Production IG Shorts
Michael Potts | 6/12/2020
Production IG is best known for helming series such as Ghost in the Shell and Psycho Pass, however JFF has put together five of their shorter pieces, namely:
Li’l Spider Girl (2012);
Drawer Hobs (2011); and
The Girl from the Other Side (2019).
Each is created with a wholly distinct visual style from the others and all are self-contained stories.
Pigtails is follows a girl living alone in a cottage where inanimate objects like pegs, toothbrushes and umbrellas can speak to each other. She is visited by mysterious figures in full hazmat suits, who conduct tests on and examine her, and the only other human she ever sees is a boy her age who also acts as her postman. The colour scheme utilised here is desaturated and the character designs slender with round facial features. This serves a dual purpose of making the unconcealed characters more familiar and likeable whilst maintaining an air of unease, assisting the bleakness of the story as more of the world is revealed. Of note, the conclusion may leave you scratching your head somewhat, but the commentary of the objects around the house provides some contemplative clarity.
Kick-Heart is the most unique of the collection. It tells the bizarre love story of two pro-wrestlers, with some quite cheeky sexual humour baked in. The art style appears to take inspiration more from Western comic and cartoon styles than it does from more conventional anime aesthetics and it is the stronger for it. That said, the visuals are not for everyone, and the design could be described as ugly depending on the tastes of the individual viewer.
Li’l Spider Girl is probably the most conventionally ‘anime’ short of the bunch. It uses the Japanese folklore creature, Jurogumo (half spider, half woman) and has two human characters, a man who runs an antique bookstore and a teenage girl who he employs as his assistant, who discover and look after the a young Jorogumo. The design for this piece is essentially industry standard with little that stands out. In hindsight it is clear that the whole 25 minute production is anchored completely in the ending twist. Without revealing what that is, there is a good chance it will catch its viewer off-guard, but in doing so it reveals that the rest of the story is quite hollow.
Drawer Hobs follows a young single woman who receives a chest of drawers from her mother, which she comes to find houses six child-like figures, each with a skill or quality to teach her. The character designs here are generally more rounded and less angular (even though most characters are quite slim), which lends more of a cutesy, light-hearted feel to the short. The story is founded in fairly traditional values and is not particularly unique. Indeed it feels as though what is actually scripted is really a much condensed version of longer story, though were it feature length it likely would not work quite so well. Still, Drawer Hobs is a charming little journey which is a nice contrast to the four other shorts in this collection.
Lastly the shortest entry, The Girl from the Other Side, is perhaps the best offering. At ten minutes it relies wholly on visual storytelling, without a single line of dialogue. A tale of a demonic other and a little girl, the shaded dark tones and sheer whites contrast beautifully with only a modicum of colour. Foreboding is balanced well with warmth as the odd relationship between the two characters is played out. It is a lovely little gem that is best saved to the end.
An eclectic collection of animated shorts compiled for JFF 2020 Plus, fans of animation will no doubt find something to like amongst this cavalcade from the famed anime production house.