- animated gifs / APO / cyberpunk / Illustrator / japanese illustrator / pixel art / Science Fiction / Ultimate Pixel Crew / videographer
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Pixel artist, illustrator and videographer APO depicts worlds both familiar and strange in his pixel artworks. Influenced by works like Blade Runner and Ghibli movies he watched in his youth, APO's subjects range from realistic urban landscapes and beautiful natural scenery, to cyberpunk and science-fiction vignettes. His GIF animations often feature a lone female character, sometimes two characters in his more recent work, caught in moments of contemplation. There's a sense of loneliness at times, but the characters often seem at ease in their environments. APO+ is capable of capturing serene moments just as adeptly as he can create incredibly dynamic action scenes.
Many of his works are part of a common world setting. For example, his "Future Lantern" series is set in a future where alien invaders halfway between organic and machine threaten humanity. Only girls with a very rare gene are capable of damaging them, so an organization recruits them, trains them and sends them to do battle against the alien threat.
APO+ was awarded the GIFs2018 Award of Excellence prize for his sci-fi animated GIF "SPHD" (see below). He has also collaborated with companies such as sake maker Takara Shuzo Co., Ltd. and financial service Sumitomo Mitsui Card Co., Ltd. on original art.
In addition to his solo work, APO+ is part of a team together with fellow pixel artists Motocross Saito and Setamo called Ultimate Pixel Crew. Among other projects, they contributed video for avex recording artist SKY-HI's song "Role Playing Soldier." APO+ has also collaborated with chiptunes artist NekomeP on the video for his track: "PixelSkyrocket" (see beow).
Let's take a look at some of his works:
(Click on the title in the caption to view the work on its original page)
One of the features distinguishing his GIF animations with natural settings is the way he captures the shimmering movements of water and his masterful handling of color gradations.
YACHT (05/31/17) | © APO
UMI (ocean) (02/12/18) | © APO
BoatPack (11/01/18) | © APO
Alone in the city
In a work called "Party," we see a female character smoking a cigarette as she stares into the city, a table set for four with dishes all prepared yet empty of people, as her smartphone rings without her noticing it. Are the guests late? Did they ever show up? The GIF elicits questions and stimulates the viewer's curiosity.
PARTY (06/09/18) | © APO
APO also uses small particles such as dust or snow to bring quiet scenes to life and convey a sense of a living, breathing environment.
ASA (morning) (01/13/18) | © APO
Untitled (10/21/17) | © APO
UNL (03/14/19) | © APO
Science-fiction and cyberpunk
The titular image of his Future Lantern series, this animated GIF, in spite of its small format, succeeds in conveying a sense of danger represented by the enormous scale and the enigmatic appearance of the alien threat, as red particles ominously drip from it into the river below. Is this an invasion? Is it the aftermath of an attack?
FUTURE LANTERN (01/09/18) | © APO
Just like Ghost in the Shell, his "SENTOU" (battle) is set in an urban setting inspired by Hong Kong. In a side street devoid of people, a sword-wielding warrior faces off against an alien threat.
SENTOU (battle) (04/29/18) | © APO
In his award-winning "SPHD," the camera is caught in a time loop capturing a moment of intense action as a double-gun wielding character shoots at a monstrous mechanical enemy. The attention to detail in the scene is remarkable. Even lens flare is captured.
SPHD (06/23/18) | © APO
Other works such as "SUPER HIGH" and "CP" are set in a cyberpunk world.
SUPER HIGH (10/01/18) | © APO
CP (04/03/19) | © APO
"SHIMA" is a bright and pop animated GIF probably inspired by a visit to Sakushima island off the coast of Aichi Prefecture.
SHIMA (island) (08/07/18) | © APO
APO also draws his inspiration from ancient sources, such as this animated vignette of Egyptian cat goddess Bastet (or a mortal dressed as her) in a private moment of rest.
BASTET (island) (03/16/18) | © APO
APO's collaboration with chiptunes artist NekomeP, and the original animated GIF used in the background:
PixelSkyrocket MV Illust. (08/11/18) | © APO
As a member of Ultimate Pixel Crew, APO contributed to the pixel art animation in this exciting video by rap artist SKY-HI for his song "Role Playing Soldier (prod. starRO)" on his new album "JAPRISON"
APO created this beautiful and iconic animated greeting card of a typical Japanese summer at a fireworks festival for financial service Sumitomo Mitsui Card Co., Ltd.:
for © Sumitomo Mitsui Card Co., Ltd.| © APO
Link to official site
Another example is his collaboration with Takara Shuzo Co., Ltd. for their popular Mio sparkling sake:
for GIFMAGAZINE and © Takara Shuzo Co., Ltd.| © APO
Link to campaign page on GIFMAGAZINE
If you'd like to see more of APO's work, you can following him here:
Although he is unable to reveal the details just yet, mark your calendars for October 15th to 20th when APO will be exhibiting his works in the Yotsuya neighborhood of Tokyo together with his Ultimate Pixel Crew crewmates Motocross Saito and Setamo.