Monday, December 15, 2014

Anime Review: The 2014 Young Animator Training Project shorts

In case anyone is wondering what happened to Friday's book review, hi, I've had a headache on and off for the past four days and that has made it near impossible to assemble my notes into a full review, just pushing the whole thing back until Friday and investing in even stronger pain medicine.

It's almost the end of the fall season for anime and thank goodness, I'm really starting to run out of things to talk about since I simply don't have the free time to watch a full series right now, even a short one. However, I did remember that I didn't talk about this year's Anime Mirai shorts (if I recall correctly, one or more of them was taking forever to be fansubbed so I gave up waiting on it), one of them I was flat out uninterested in (the anthro one) but I was able to find the rest of them on youtube easily enough. Unlike 2013's Little Witch Academia, none of these are legally streaming anywhere so if you want to watch you'll also have to resort to less than savory means.


Harmonie
Everyone has their own inner world and it's easiest to get along with those people who have a similar world than you do, at least that's how high school student Akio sees the world. This was my least favorite of the shorts since I felt like the execution was lacking and that the pacing was awkward, I actually wondered if it was not only animated by newbies but also written by one. ANN doesn't list a writer but it does say that the director was the same man who did Time of Eve which blew my mind since I've seen his shorts before and he knows how to make those work, what happened here?! And it felt weird to think of this as a training project for animators since none of the animation stood out to me or even seemed particularly hard, there was one or two moments when the short looked interesting but that was it, I would've expected a training project to give them a more difficult or at least varied task.


The Big First Year Student and the Small Second Year Student
This short was clearly aimed at kids, not families but kids, so I also didn't like it as much since material for five year olds just isn't that interesting these days. It feels like an afternoon special with a bunch of cute kids, a conflict that would tense and scary to a five year old, and a happy resolution, nothing wrong but nothing interesting either. There were a few questionable cuts and bits of animation early on but this project actually seemed like a real learning project. The character designs and color schemes also seemed rather fun, they're a bit different from what I'm used to but considering how much of the staff seems to work on all of the Doraeman movies I suppose this must have felt like a rather familiar project.


Kaze no Sorashita ~Chronus~
My favorite of the bunch and the one that is the hardest to find any information on, ANN seems to have a page for it under the name Kuro no Su-Chronus and I have no idea why since they spell it Kaze no Sorashita in the article on the shorts (without the word Chronus). Regardless, I am amazed by this short since this was very good and the director has only done character design, animation, and animation direction before (yet again no writer is listed so I must assume that they were the main creative force behind the idea). Like Death Billiards last year, this short feels like it could either stand on it's own or be the pilot to a larger series (I am looking forward to Death Parade in January), narrator Makoto has always been able to see grim reapers following people around and it's understandably made him rather nervous when they appear nearby. The story escalates and manages to have a plot-based conflict introduced and resolved while also providing Makoto character growth which on it's own is amazing for just 30 minutes and the story manages to provide a bit of background to several side characters as well. Not only was this the most interesting of the shorts but I thought it was by far the strongest as well, plus it had the characters do everything from talking to fighting, now that must've been a challenge for the animators and I applaud them since everything looked just fine. The character designs were a tad on the simple side but after I saw how they were animated it made perfect sense. 

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