HIDARI: An Epic Wooden Puppet Samurai Stop-Motion Film

a still from the stop-motion film HIDARI made from wooden puppets

HIDARI is an ambitious, upcoming stop-motion film from director Masashi Kawamura (previously) that tells the epic tale of legendary sculptor “Jingoro Hidari,” portrayed by wooden puppets. Working with a team of animators and sculptors, Kawamura is bringing to life an ambitious “Japanimation meets stop-motion” film.


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wooden carvings said to have been made by Jingoro Hidari

The film is an epic retelling of Jingoro Hidari, a legendary sculptor who is said to have existed in the Edo period (17th century) of Japan. According to legend, Hidari could literally breathe life into the puppets he carved, with stories of cat and tiger sculptures coming to life. Today, there are nearly 100 locations around Japan where you can find sculptures and relief carvings said to be Jingoro’s work, such as The Sleeping Cat in Nikko Toshogu Shrine (above, center). 

His name “Hidari” means “left” in Japanese. Some historians say it’s because he was left handed, while others say that he only had a left arm because his right arm was chopped off by his jealous rival, anecdotes which go on to inspire the original story. And to honor the legend, the animators are “breathing life” into wooden puppets using the magic of stop-motion. The result is a wonderfully textured ambience that takes advantage of the look and feel of wood.

Check out the awe-inspiring pilot below:

And if you’re curious about the sheer amount of wood carvings that are going into this film, have a look behind the scenes video below. You can almost smell the wonderful smells that are likely emanating on this set.

The eventual completion of this full-length film is still a few years out and the creators need your help bringing it to life. If you’re interested, check out their Kickstarter page which has more details about tthe film and what they are looking to accomplish.


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1 Comment

  1. Fantastic little film! I wonder how many hours it took to produce? Thank you-most enjoyable. Doumo.

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