Welcome back to another long overdue installment of Short Romance Animations Worth Watching (I probably need a better name for this) where I pull a few animated shorts out of the internet that I think are a good representation of the genre. This series has always been about broadening my view of animation, and below I’ve found four animations that captured my attention from across cultures and styles, all within the romance genre. One of them is from one of the seasons of Japan Animators Expo, and if you haven’t checked out the creations that came out of that, I highly suggest you do. What makes a good short for me though, is the ability to compress a meaningful story into a small window of time using skilled directing and art style. In some instances, the draw of the short for me will be its visuals, but beautiful animation without a solid plot can still be frustrating to watch. So without further ado, look below to find my four animated shorts I think you should watch.
Hill Climb Girl is an animation that focuses on the story of a young high school girl who races a boy to school every day on her bicycle but keeps losing. She is highly passionate about cycling, and with a little encouragement from her pro-cycling hero, she finally manages to beat her rival. This short is presented by Dwango and Hideaki Anno’s studio Khara, and features voice acting by Koichi Yamadera and Megumi Hayashibara (interestingly enough Cowboy Bebop’s Spike and Faye). What really makes this short stand out is the fact that the 3D animation can put a lot of full-length animes to shame. It is highly detailed, right down to the chain on her bike and the staff managed to style it in such a way that it looks almost like 2D animation. You can really tell that the animators went all out for this short.
The story is cute as well, centering around one girl’s determination to beat her rival in a friendly race. She derives motivation from her hero, a pro-cyclist and pushes herself to new levels of skill to finally achieve her goal. It makes you think that in a few years, she might become a pro-athlete herself. The romance itself is kind of secondary to the overall story, but I think it plays in well with the theme of gaining confidence in yourself and following your passion. It almost seems like her rival saw her as a different person in the end because of her new-found confidence, or perhaps he had always had feelings for her and the excitement of the match prompted him to finally speak up. Overall, definitely worth checking out.
Bacchus follows the story of a woman who is stuck in a stifling routine: get up, go to work, go out to drink, and come home. One night, while her friends are absorbed in their phones as usual, she has a chance encounter with a tantalizing woman. She follows her out of the bar and into a vibrant universe of desire and freedom from social constraints. The short was created as a third year project by students under the direction of Rikke Planeta at VIA University College’s Animation Workshop in Denmark. The animation itself is interesting because it presents us with two distinct styles: a more solid 3D animation and then a looser and more vibrant 2D. This separation allows for the feel that the woman is stepping into an alternate universe and allows the animators free reign to use symbolism however they want in a creative fashion.
The story itself is something that is fairly common, but what sets this apart is the way the animation and the story combine to give us a short that is definitely worth watching. There is no voice acting throughout the video, but with animators that know how to accurately depict expressions and symbolism, it all seems to fall into place. It becomes a story about finding the time to appreciate our bodies, human interaction, and sex in a way that becomes invigorating for the woman. Her journey into the world of Bacchus presents her with an escape from her reality that is filled with people pretending to be having fun and with a routine that presents no excitement. Sex then presents a way to inject excitement into her life and gives her the sense of human interaction she’s been missing. It also presents us with a theme of celebrating our animal selves and baser instincts, coming to appreciate our bodies for what they are.
Requiem for Romance follows a phone call that ends a long-standing love affair between two people while two martial art masters duel in this romantic drama animated short. This short film was directed and produced by Jonathan Ng in 2012 and was put on the Oscar shortlist shortly thereafter in 2014. It features an amazing animation style that combines Asian aesthetics and vibrant colors to produce something that is both simple and captivating. I am a sucker for watercolor art and seeing the way the colors in the background swirl together, matching the mood of the scene, just makes me want to keep watching. It’s almost like they over-layed the animation on a video, with each background in constant motion. The colors move from one to the next, following the tone of the conversation in the background as the couple finally comes to accept that they are in fact breaking up. The animation of the fighters is fluid, with thick brush lines that are reminiscent of Chinese and Japanese watercolor paintings or calligraphy.
One of the reasons this short works so well is how the phone conversation in the background matches with the body language of the characters in the foreground. It becomes a dance of emotion, with sword swings hitting at moments when one of them says something particularly emotional. The couple speaks of the clash of tradition and love, of how her parents don’t approve of him, of arranged dates with someone more “fitting”. The foreground features traditional Asian styles that help give support to the themes being discussed. It’s a short that seeks to incorporate all of its story into every facet, creating a tight-knit film that deserves to be praised.
A Kiss Deferred is from a segment of the New York Times where they take stories of love and turn them into short animations. This particular story is about a childhood love that gets put on hold by the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina until she finally meets up with her fifth-grade boyfriend again sixteen years later. The story has a longer written version but I think the animation produced by Moth Collective does a great job capturing not only her history but also the feelings she must have been going through. Their style is fairly simplified, certainly not as involved as many of the ones I’ve discussed above, but I think it does the job. It speaks to the style of the documentary genre, making sure that the visuals don’t outweigh the the person’s words. They give a little life to her as a child, using symbolism and simple body language to express the emotions of that moment in the story.
The story itself presents us with the history of children and young love separated by war and their subsequent reuniting. The romantic appeal of the story revolves around our wonderment that these two people managed to reconnect and still have feelings for one another. You would think that time apart for that long would have lessened their feelings, but it creates this what-if moment where we begin to ponder if fate is actually real in a sense. Real-life stories, I think, create an even deeper sense of wonderment than fictional because of the fact that we begin to think that there is the potential for something like this to happen in our lives too. I’ll definitely be checking out more of the Modern Love series in the future.
Let me know what you thought about these animations in the comments below and if you have any suggestions for future posts, I would love to hear them!
~~ Thanks for Reading!~~
<<< Part 1
Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter (links in the sidebar) for all Bloom Reviews content updates and news and here on WordPress so you don’t miss a thing!