Perhaps you've never heard of Kodansha. But if you've loved yourself some manga in your day, raced home after school to catch an anime, or waited with bated breath for Haruki Murakami's latest surreal tome, then Japan's largest publisher has most certainly touched your life.
It has printed titles like Akira—gospel to many manga lovers—and Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (gospel to us). Once upon a time, it discovered Murakami himself.
Kodansha turns 112 this year. But maybe you don't know it by name the way you might recognize, say, Penguin. That's a damn shame. So it worked with New York branding agency Gretel to change that. "Take Flight," their sublime brand video, is one of the results.
The work, directed by Juan Cabral, is introverted, quiet, tactile—evoking not so much readers themselves but a mood of reading. It opens with a typewritten page cast out a window, like a messenger bird springing from a groomer's hands. Books, far-flung, find their people unawares, engaging us in sudden but sweeping relationships of solitude and intimacy.
Even the whispers that move through "Take Flight" evoke the rising tide of epic that can sneak up on you when immersed in a piece of literature that has descended into your lap, like a mythic creature who has chosen you.
But maybe the greatest triumph of "Take Flight" is the unpretentiousness that sits in so much beauty. Whether you read "literature" or manga, in print or on a screen, that strange magic remains the same—a synaesthesia that transforms mere marks into a universe you can live in and that can alter your emotional climate profoundly.
"You don't get to make something like that too often in a career," creative director Sue Murphy remarks to Muse, and we readily agree.
In the year and a half Gretel has worked with Kodansha, it has focused on designing a brand identity that elevates it into a global entity. This film makes for a lovely start, and the larger body of Gretel's work includes a video content mnemonic that brings it to life in motion and sound, designed with audio partner Antfood.
The rest of the graphic identity—composed of bold geometries coupled with colors that complement the publishing house's print style—can be found below.
SPOT NAME: TAKE FLIGHT
Principal & Founder: Greg Hahn
Executive Creative Director & Partner: Ryan Moore
Creative Director: Sue Murphy
Art Director: Josh Engmann
Copywriter: Thomas Kemeny
Agency Producer: Nicole Schofield
Account Director: Kerry Griner
Executive Strategy Director: Daniel Edmundson
Senior Strategist: Carter Bird
PRODUCTION COMPANY: MJZ
Director: Juan Cabral
President/Executive Producer: David Zander
Executive Producer: Emma Wilcockson
Line Producer: Natalia Mussolana
Director of Photography: Leandro Filloy
Production Designer: Sebastian Orgambide
Service Production Company: Labhouse (Argentina)
Editor: Emiliano Fardaus
Assistant Editor: Daniel Prync
Post Producer: Julieta Fernández Castagnino
MUSIC: DUOTONE AUDIO GROUP Music Executive Producer: Ross Hopman
Music Producer: Gio Lobato
Colorist: Jean-Clement Soret
VFX / FINISHING: UNTOLD STUDIOS
Creative Director: Diarmid Harrison-Murray
VFX Sups: Bruno Fukumothi & Amir Bazazi
VFX Artists: Antony Allen, Jack Fisher, Solveig Lynde, Tom Humphrey, Dave Ince, George Cressey, Platon Filimonov, Sebastian Caldwell, Philippe Moine, Joffrey Zeitouni, Daniel Longe, Florian Rigollet, Leonie Clement, Cindy Libbrecht, James Primhak, Briag Mallat, Manon Cauzid, Henrik Holmberg, Lee Matthews
VFX Executive Producer: Tomek Zietkiewicz
VFX Producer: Nathan Hoad
SOUND DESIGN / MIX: LIME STUDIOS
Sound designer & mix: Rohan Young
Audio Assistant: Jeremy Nichols
Executive Audio Producer: Susie Boyajan
Senior Audio Producer: Kayla Phungglan