Film creator SEGAWA Thirty-Seven is garnering attention from the world with the “moving ukiyo-e” series, which adds modern accent and  unique humor to traditional Japanese “ukiyo-e” paintings.

His works, which add modern elements and update historic “ukiyo-e” paintings as GIF animations, can be said to be the “ukiyo-e” of the social network world.

By updating the original to be modern while respecting tradition, he makes the essential charm of the original shine even more vividly.


How did you get started with the “moving ukiyo-e” series?

It started when I thought about entering into a GIF animation contest called “the GIFs 2015.”  I am not particularly good at drawing, so I thought about utilizing existing pictures.  I decided to make clips using ukiyo-e, for which the copyrights have expired.

In creating your works, was there anything that you were focused on?

Ukiyo-e are paintings of people’s lives, so I put a lot of effort in expressing the background and story that is there but can’t be seen.

How do you select which ukiyo-e to use for a motif?

Many times, I select paintings with compositions where I can make ideas that come to mind happen, but recently, I have been trying to draw ukiyo-e from scratch.

How do you construct your work?  Do you decide on a motif based on an idea, or do the ideas expand from the motif?

There are both times when a drawing is decided first and times when a motif or idea is decided first.  The motif or idea comes as a pair, so I can’t really decided which comes first.


For example, for the animation I made for April Fools’ 2016, the idea, “athletes playing the ancient Japanese sport kemari,” came first.


In contrast, for this piece, the drawing came first, where I started from thinking about “what would be interesting to have pass through this street?”

When I make a piece from a request, mainly the idea comes first.  The piece with the DeLorean driving through is an independent work.

Your works are also admired overseas.  When you create your

work, do you consider that people overseas also see your work?

I don’t think about it particularly that much, but I try to make my works so that even if the language is different, they can be more or less understood just from the visuals.


I feel that there a consistent humor in your works.  Do you think about that in particular?  What are the roots of that humor?

I make a conscious effort to leave an opening that makes it easy to comment on.  I’ve always liked comedy, so I think that is reflected in my work.

Is there anything that you’d like to challenge from now on other than the “moving ukiyo-e” series?

I’d like to make live action short films.

I’d like to make a unique film series that, even if it’s live action, can be quickly recognized as my own work just from watching.

瀬川三十七 / SEGAWA Thirty-Seven on GIFMAGAZINE