Lately I’ve been finding myself drawn more and more to different animation styles and animations from different countries, particularly those from different countries and cultures. I’ve been on a mission to branch out my love of animation beyond Japanese anime and so have started to compile a list of the romantic shorts I like the most. You can find these across the internet, ranging in length from 4 minutes to 12 minutes, but I generally say anything around or less than 15 minutes is what I would consider a short. Going over that amount of time and you’re getting close to a full length cartoon episode. These are animations which display story, creative animation, and great directing in a very short amount of time. Those that have made it onto this list display some or all of these features to create a well-crafted story or message in a small package. Feel free to check out any that interest you and let me know what you thought in the comments below!
This short is probably the longest one out of the list at 14 minutes, and also the only one you can find on Crunchyroll. It advertises itself as “ is a slice of life story about a young couple with an on-and-off relationship. They stumble upon a time machine that takes them back to several periods in their lives as a couple.” Produced by the Korean animation studio Goindol and released with the support of comic publisher EigoManga, this Korean short manages to present a story of two very different people who are constantly drawn to another as if by destiny. A “destiny of despair” as they call it.
In terms of animation, Goindol took a bit of a risk in going back to basics with its style and use of shading, but I think it works with the overall premise. The character design and color usage is relatively simple, lacking cell-shading on the characters while still keeping vibrant backgrounds as a main focal point. It also contrasted nicely with the moments of sci-fi where the world switches from one time-period to the next. The story itself was pretty sweet, focusing on two people who can’t seem to get along but still want to be together. It’s a story of poor communication, immaturity, and renewed understanding. We see them come to realize each other’s feelings over the course of their journey back in time. It’s really a sweet story and I recommend checking it out especially if you have Crunchyroll Premium.
In a Heartbeat
One of the shorter animations on this list, at about 5 minutes in length, it has certainly captured people’s hearts with its Pixar-quality animation and sweet message. Produced by Beth David and Esteban Bravo for a project at Ringling College of Art and Design, In a Heartbeat managed to spark overwhelming support for its message about young gay love. The story follows the premise of: “A closeted boy runs the risk of being outed by his own heart after it pops out of his chest to chase down the boy of his dreams.” It certainly captured my heart with its fantastic animation and a story that does its utmost to keep us engaged without the use of dialogue.
The fact that this animation was made by two students still amazes me as it can pretty much stand on equal ground with any Pixar or Disney animation. Not to mention that in the course of 5 minutes they managed to tell a full love story with an interesting premise. You feel through each character’s actions and expressions just how much pain, longing, and joy they are going through. For any young boy going through the process of figuring out his sexuality, this is a pretty accurate and insightful look at how difficult it can be not just to admit your feelings but also the hesitation you might feel in admitting them in front of others. The heart was certainly a nice touch in this regard as on some levels you really can’t deny or hide what you feel for long.
Created by Sean Buckelew, this animation is described as “an ode to a lost age of internet love” and is about 10 minutes long. While the animation could be described as fairly simple, I think the story itself allows for this simplification as it is supposed to take place online in the year of 2000, the early years of the internet. It follows the online relationship of two people who have never met face-to-face but have come to love one another. They craft an imaginary world through role-playing, and the animations unfold, showing them meeting at a large party, their avatars faces changing repeatedly.
Buckelew’s short animation has a lot to say about love in the time of the internet and especially internet personas. It questions the reality of getting to know someone online without meeting them in person. The questions of: Is this person really who they say they are? If it’s purely online, is the relationship real? Am I really being myself when I’m online? These are all complicated questions stemming from sociological theories about identity and personalities in context. Internet gives us a way to live how we want and project a certain image of ourselves to others who don’t know who we are behind the screen. It allows us a chance to pick and choose parts of ourselves to put out there, construct avatars, and be bold in certain actions we take. But it also means we don’t know what could be true or false from a person on the other side of the screen. Lovestreams poses all of these questions as the avatars of the characters shift and change, becoming less like themselves or even further from human
Jinxy Jenkins and Lucky Lou
This animation is about 4 minutes long and is another one to come from Ringling College of Art and Design, created by Michael Bidinger and Michelle Kwon. It’s also another one that presents both great animation and an amusing story that follows the adventure of two people: a woman who is extremely lucky and a man who has extreme bad luck. They wind up literally crashing into each other and their lives become a rollercoaster of adventure. Much like In a Heartbeat, I found the quality of animation and directing to be surprisingly good and lends itself well to the crazy atmosphere of this short romantic
The animation style is fairly close to Pixar, using 3D modeling to capture the these unique characters. Even the backgrounds are bright and detailed, looking to be modeled after some part of San Francisco, with its squished together apartments and steeply sloped streets. It was interesting to see as well how they managed to combine the personalities and levels of luck of the characters in such a short amount of time and with only actions and expressions. We see that Jinxy Jenkins is tired of his severe bad luck, resigning himself to wearing a helmet the rest of his life. Lucky Lou, while everything goes well for her, is bored of her life and is looking for some excitement. Her meeting of Jenkins mingles their luck, producing an adventure with something for each of them. How they survive their adventure rely on how both of them use their luck or lack thereof. I highly encourage you to check out this very amusing animation.
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Be sure to check out these animations and let me know what you thought in the comments below or on my Facebook page!