Ink & Paint VI: Hanamushi

Hanamushi is a flash animation and game site created by Akira Noyama, a Japanese computer programmer and artist. It defies description, but I’m going to try anyhow.

Hmm, let’s see…imagine Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Peter Max on heavy medication after reading Where the Wild Things Are a few dozen times. Translated into animation by Bill Gates at his nerdiest. In Japan.

Nah, still doesn’t quite make it.

When you arrive at Hanamushi, you’re confronted with a surrealistic picture of a little girl’s silhouette standing in a field of melting lollipops. Or something. Several items on the ground wiggle enticingly as you mouse over them. Once you click, you’ll enter a strange world of discarded junk and phantasmagorical creatures. Hint: click on the “Language” button on the lower right hand corner for English, if you don’t read Japanese. And don’t expect many more hints.

It’s a game. It’s art. It’s art in game form. It’s an artistic game. Or something.

You direct the little girl through this world, confronting obstacles and puzzles that require a moderate amount of imagination and ingenuity to solve. Some are classic logic problems, some are original, all are challenging and fun. Along the way, you’ll have opportunities to sample more of Noyama’s work (and that of a few friends): drawings, YouTube videos, and flash animation. You can go directly to this material via the buttons at the bottom of the screen. Click around, and be thankful you don’t have Mr. Noyama’s nightmares.

There is method to this madness. If you persevere to the end of the game, you’ll figure out what all the weirdness is about. Or most of it. Or some of it. Maybe.

It’s cute, it’s creepy, it’s creepy-cute. It’s Hanamushi. Or something.

Check it out. I dare you.

(Thanks to Damon Shaw for the tip)

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