Oh, heads up: Otomo new movie Short Peace is now online, if you know where to look.— James Harvey (@jamesharveytm) February 7, 2014
Oh! What a lovely anime. Also, you should be following James Harvey.
I'm coming to you as someone who saw Robot Carnival, and Neo Tokyo and Memories (I always felt bad for the rats), so you already know I'm a sucker for anthologies.
Minor caveat here: I speak no Japanese. I am watching this with no dub or sub-titles. And, even with that, I am going to recommend you buy this as soon as you can. Oh, man. This is one you are going to want to buy. I know I will. It's just so pretty. Let's get started on the spoilers:
We start with our frame-story and a little girl playing hide-and-seek. She's counting down, but her surroundings have other plans.
Hey, it's a white rabbit. There's no way this can end badly!
What follows is going to be pretty run of the mill if you've ever done ketamine or listened to an album by the Orb. Our little girl goes through a series of scenes until she encounters a disco-ball and it flies up her skirt. She morphs a few times and this anime actually gets going.
She's everything, so she's nothing.
Out of all of them, this one is my favorite. It's a simple, classical ghost story, told in the Lafcadio Hern style. It takes about 12 minutes of you life and won't leave you in regret.
It's a-storming and there's lightning and thunder. Our hero is trudging through this mess, looking for shelter.
Spot the CGI.
There's actually a very good article here about how this piece was produced. Now, I know you can tell it's CG, but do you really care? It tells the story and does so in a simple, unobtrusive manner. I'm OK with it.
Anyhow, our hero gets to a shelter, after he gets his hat blown off. He decides to stay the night. Takeshi Kusao is the voice talent is here, and he's got a nice growl and sense of import here. When he announces his presence to the little shrine, it's very polite. Anyone who knows ghost stories understands how important it is to be polite.
This is where you really start to appreciate the CGI. Our hero's coat is a lovely pattern and it moves beautifully with him. When he find himself in the umbrella room, the way he moves tells the story as well as what he says. That pinch to the cheek is a mad desire to wake up.
Toodle luma luma toodle oh lay...
Luckily, our hero is not afraid and is resourceful. He repairs the umbrellas in question.
Because white glue is your friend.
Passing this test, our hero gains admission to the second room.
This room is more feminine, and there's a female ghost here, surrounded by skeins of fabric. This one's voiced by Aoi Yabusaki and she delivers a speech that's up there with Lady Wakasa from Ugestsu. It's a hypnotic performance and it's a real pity it's going to be ruined by a dub.
I'm going to sound like a 12-yr-old cheerleader before 2014 is done!
Anyhow, she sends her skeins of sultry, silken seduction after our hero, who grabs them and patches them up. Oh, this is the problem with silk: it gets worn if it's not cared for correctly. Luckily, our hero knows how to do this.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
This, in its own way, grants admission to the third room. Sadly, the door here has to be torn down, so its contents can spill out, Fibber McGee and Molly style.
I swear to god, the roomie's room looks like this.
Oh, but there's a stench (it IS the roomie's room!). No, it's a dragon of abnormal composition. He's made of broken chairs and pots. It's like an episode of Hoarders, but without the dead kittens (that we can tell).
You can tell it's Otomo. He loves the fiddly shit.
There's nothing in the magic box that's going to fix this mess. Our hero clasps hands and prays. Crap flies past him. He maintains a level of stoicism I could not muster in a similar situation (seriously, the roomie can clean his own bathroom).
The next morning. The thunderstorm is over and the sun is out. Our hero is unharmed.
If this sequence does not make you yawn, you are a psychopath.
Our hero looks down and what has he gained for his troubles that night? A mighty fine umbrella, an excellent skein of cloth, and—woot! He got his hat back! Score. Time to trudge into town.
Oh, by the way....
Yes! Nominated for an Oscar. That's how good it is.
Tomorrow, we'll look at the second piece of Short Peace.