Plassein – a wonderful, wordless visual ride

Joji Koyama’s new book takes the reader on a surreal journey via a series of interwoven visual stories – each one like a short scene from an animated film

Published via his own Berlin-based Toupée imprint, Plassein is essentially a series of short, purely visual stories.

At one image per page, the book reads a bit like a storyboard (Koyama is a filmmaker and animator) and, aside from changes in shapes and colours, there’s no distinct beginning or end to any of the narratives.

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In fact, there are no words in the book at all – aside from a colophon and acknowledgements – but Koyama says the stories “observe the forms and textures of the built world and trace their strange, melancholic entanglements”.

This is certainly true – though who is providing the observations via these weird and wonderful frames is not made clear.

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Landscapes merge into abstract patterns, which in turn reveal other scenes and settings. In one section, paddling kayakers give way to a wintry landscape, for example, before the view zooms in closer and pulls back out to reveal a character drawing at a table in front of a mirror. (Plassein comes from the Greek ‘to mould’.)

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Koyama’s talents are such that he employs a huge variety of visual styles throughout the book, from painting to pen scribbles, via close-up illustrations and strange, intensely-detailed drawings. There are bleak sequences that almost turn the pages white, alongside others full of vibrant and patterned colour.

With no guidance outside of the imagery itself, Plassein also reminds us that sometimes it’s just fun to be lost in a book for a while.

Plassein is available now from Toupée; €25, toupe-e.com. It is distributed in the UK by Central Books (£18.99). Joji Koyama’s site is at jojikoyama.com. (Images via jojikoyama.com/plassein)

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What's the story?

The Storytelling issue, Oct/Nov 2017, is out now.
We invited writers to respond to our cover image
this month: read their stories inside.
PLUS: Tom Gauld, Oliver Jeffers, Giphy & S-Town

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