Anime legend Shinichiro Watanabe is the latest Japanese creator to lend visuals to the urban sounds of America, joining the likes of 'lord of superflat' Takashi Murakami and his recent music video for Billie Eilish.
Spacey hip-hop artist Flying Lotus is back, dropping a promo this week for his Anderson.Pakk collaboration More, which you can watch in all its Forbidden Planet-infused glory below.
The animated video comes directed by none other than Shinichirō Watanabe, the Japanese anime film and TV director behind classic cartoon Cowboy Bebop, and is the latest example of American hip-hop getting that Japanese Midas touch of gold.
Recently we had Takashi Murakami lend his distinctive 'superflat' style to the urban emo-beats of Billie Eilish's you should see me in a crown, while anime-influenced videos from XXXTENTACION, Jaden Smith and Cardi B have been hard to miss. That's before you even acknowledge that one of last year's most viral sensations was the looping Ghibli gif & Youtube mix of 'Lofi hip hop radio'.
While the Flying Lotus MV is Shinchiro's first music video to date, Takashi has long crossed over into the music field, and arguably helped anime and hip-hop become cultural bedfellows with his artwork for the Kanye West Graduation LP. He also directed the promo for Good Morning off the rap masterpiece.
Since then Takashi has designed the sleeve for underrated Kanye side project Kids See Ghosts, ComplexCon's 12on12 rap compilation, and lent visuals for not one but two Pharrell Williams videos to date.
The latter video is for a Pharrell remix of Last Night, Good Night, which was originally 'performed' by virtual idol Hatsune Miku and real-life musicians Livetune, whose collaborative single Redial also got the Takashi touch for its video.
Five years later and the postmodern pop represented by the holographic singer arguably gets an urban edge in the work of Eilish, who's turned by Takashi into a virtual idol for the 3D animation of ...crown (we look forward to seeing both Billie Eilish and Takashi talk at Adobe MAX 2019 in LA.)
Takashi has also designed artwork for actual idols AKB48, and his non-hip hop animations so far have also included a video for Kirsten Dunst, one for indie duo Yuzu and another for wonktronica musician Nobukazu Takemura's 2001 single Sign (plus artwork for an earlier EP).
If you're curious what musical projects Shinichiro Watanabe has been involved in, there's only his jazz student anime saga called Kids on the Slope - but the director has worked with Flying Lotus before, with Lotus providing the music for Watanabe's 2017 Blade Runner 2049 prequel Black Out 2022 (embedded below).