Anime Affect: Neo-Giallo Aesthetics of Masaaki Yuasa

a video essay by David Mai



Animated bodies reflect the essence of movement and the affective relationship is of the movement of bodies. If cinema is the production of motion pictures, then animation then is the production of motion. As Norman McLaren states: “Animation is not the art of drawings that move, but the art of movements that are drawn … Animation is therefore the art of manipulating the invisible interstices that lie between frames.” And if we consider affect, it too is the art of manipulating the invisible interstices, but ones that lie between bodies. Neo-giallo utilizes highly stylized aesthetics, with color and sound design pushed to their cinematic limits. Animation is not constrained by the fabric of reality, with exaggerated visuals on screen and plastic bodies. The animation of Masaaki Yuasa is known for its excessive visual movements, rhythmic editing, and kaleidoscopic use of color. While Yuasa’s narratives don’t fall in the traditional giallo formula, his films are a tempest of bodily expressions from the violent to the sexual. Moreover, his films do not lack bodily fluids and it can even be argued that the animated bodies themselves are always in a state of fluidity. Anime affect is then the affective force that emerges from the ways in which Yuasa’s work is an embodied event in which all five senses are stimulated.


David Mai is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies at the University of Kansas. As a visual artist and animator, his creative work in films and interactive media is centered on experimental forms of aesthetics. His research examines affective sensations through cinematic movements and the audio haptics. His practice is rooted in his identity as an Asian American filmmaker as he explores approaches to representations of memory, culture, and identity. His notable programs include San Francisco’s Chinatown Community Development Center, SF’s historic Roxie, and the Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive.

Also in this issue:

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All the Colors of the Affect

The Experience of the Beautiful in Luca Guadagnino’s 2018 Suspiria

Aaron Kerner

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All the Colors of the Affect

In What Tongue Do Gialli Speak? Dubbing, Language and the Affective Experience in Giallo

Ashkan Forouhi

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All the Colors of the Affect

All the Colors of Lady Avengers: Giallo, Pinku Eiga and “Taiwan Pulp Films”

Birdy Wei-ting Hung