Crowdfunding Friday: horror, Siberia and anime witches

Feature Ryan Lambie
12 Jul 2013 - 05:37

There's an international theme to this week's Crowdfunding Friday, with a captivating anime project from Japan among the selection...

It's hard to believe now, but there was a time when anime and manga were extremely difficult to get hold of. Japanese culture was a distant, exotic and exciting thing in the 80s and 90s, occasionally glimpsed on children's television or in magazines, but largely on the cultural periphery , at least in the UK. The arrival of Akira and Manga Entertainment began the trickle of Japanese comics and animation into the UK, but the internet has since unleashed a flood.

All of this is a means of introducing the first offering in this week's crowdfunding selection - 20-minute film from the Japanese animation house, Studio TRIGGER. It's proof that, not only does the internet give us ready aspect to all sorts of wonderful things from all over the world, but also allows us to actively support their growth and survival.

Little Witch Academia 2

Our usual Crowdfunding Friday policy is to choose projects that haven't yet reached their minimum funding goal, but Little Witch Academia 2 looks so great - and fits so well with our rather loose international theme this week - that we decided to bend our own rule a little bit.

The original Little Witch Academia was a 25-minute fantasy anime short created by Yoh Yoshinari and his team at Studio TRIGGER. Colourful and beautifully designed and animated, its brief tale of trainee witches, magic and monsters is a true delight - you can see it for yourself on YouTube here.

Yoshinari's since turned to Kickstarter to fund the next instalment in the series, which has proven so popular that it's already broken through its goal of $150,000 within three days of its opening. Flushed with this initial burst of success, a more ambitious stretch goal has been added: $500,000, which will pay for the production of a Blu-ray edition of the film, complete with a commentary track and a making-of documentary.

The state of traditional hand-drawn animation in Japan is a common point of discussion of late, and backing this project is one way of showing your support for a unique and captivating artform.

House Of VHS

The V/H/S found-footage horror anthologies made us shudder to a series of tape-based nightmares, and this crowdfunding project aims to bring a touch of 80s nostalgia to a story about a curse in a haunted house. With an international cast hailing from Australia, Germany, America and the UK, House Of VHS will be shot here in good old Blighty, with filmmakers Gautier Cazenave and Jean-Noel Georgel at the helm.

About six students terrorised by a cursed old top-loading video recorder in a remote British house, it harks back to a golden age of horror - the project's IndieGoGo page even references two classic genre touchstones, Evil Dead and Videodrome. How these curses will play out isn't yet clear - if it's anything like the haunted VCR we owned back in the 80s, the damned machine will probably just devour every 10th tape put in it, like an occasional sacrifice to the ancient gods.

The filmmakers are asking for an absurdly lean €3000 for House Of VHS, though the more they raise, the more they'll have to spend on stuff like gore and prosthetic effects, production expenses, and small details like lunch and dinner. If Cazenave and Georgel's previous collaboration's anything to go by - a short teaser film called Sherlock Holmes Vs Frankenstein - House Of VHS could be lots of atmospheric, schlocky fun.

Frozen State

Whether it's HP Lovecraft's At The Mountains Of Madness or John Carpenter's The Thing, there's something compelling about horror in cold places. S.T.A.L.K.E.R and Metro 2033 are but two examples of videogames that create a similarly chilly, terrifying atmosphere, and Moscow-based studio Snow Arc's Kickstarter project, Frozen State, appears to follow in the footsteps of those titles.

Described as a survival horror RPG, Frozen State's set in a post-apocalyptic Siberia. Early footage from the game hints at a mixture of tactics and action, and like the S.T.A.L.K.E.R series, exploration and scavenging appear to be the order of the day. Although it's early days for the game yet, what's caught our attention is Frozen State's back story. The pitch video above places its events in the context of real-world events, such as the mysterious Tunguska event in the early 20th century, which, according to the game's version of history, was the moment mankind accidentally thawed out something alien and very nasty from that remote crash site.

Unlike many games on Kickstarter, Frozen State isn't a spiritual successor to a familiar game, or the product of relatively well-known designers. But its premise is compelling, and early signs look promising, so this could be one project worthy of your consideration.

You can read last week's Crowdfunding Friday here.

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