#Review: Book-Paper-Scissors (Japanese Film Festival Ireland)

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Books. They are filled with knowledge, countless worlds both real and imaginary and with them, there is an old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover”. In all honesty though, how often do you do that? When you walk into a bookstore, what first catches your eyes? It can’t be the story unless you’ve done research beforehand. This is where people like Nobuyoshi Kikuchi come in. Kikuchi is a book designer. Perhaps one of the most celebrated and revered in the world. He’s designed over 15,000 books over his long career and in Book-Paper-Scissors we learn about him and his fascinating profession.

The body of the novel

Book-Paper-Scissors is a documentary about the process that goes into designing books. It is perhaps one of the most interesting films I have seen in the past year. Director Nanako Hirose in her three-year journey documenting Kikuchi has encapsulated the beauty and the romance of building a book.

With the intimate shots of Kikuchi and his contemporaries designing their respective works accompanied by an adventurous and warm score you feel enthralled and you understand why they love doing what they do.

Kikuchi and others of his field understand that they are basically marketers but rather than stay at that base level they all rise above it and elevate their work. They all try and compliment the authors work and give the book they are working on it’s best foot forward. Where Kikuchi goes and many of his contemporaries try and follow him is a place that is emotional and resonates on many different layers of connectivity. He pours himself, body and soul into all his work.

Designing something memorable

Hanako spent three years with Kikuchi and it shows. She may be a fly on the wall, but he is clearly at ease around her and before you know it has occurred this documentary about book design organically becomes a celebration about one man and the book industry and its place in the modern world and it will resonate with you.

This isn’t just a film about books and the people behind their design. It is a film about art, the artists and their passion for this particular passion and it is palpable.

Book-Paper-Scissors is a fascinating film about a topic I didn’t know I would be so engaged by. If you are in any way interested in books and the artistry that accompanies their design this is a must-see.

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