Anime: KakuRenBo: Hide and Seek
It is a rare occassion when I feel compelled to write about anime as soon as I see it, but KakuRenBo is an exception in many ways. It is a 25 minute short film, and I must say one of the best pieces I’ve had the pleasure of viewing. You are immediately cast into an eerie world, very surreal, very familiar. The game is introduced. O-To-Ko-Yo. A game played in the abandoned streets of an uninhabited city, where the streets are filled with an ominous light from an unknown source.
Once seven children have gathered at the courtyard of the town, the gates will open, and the game begins. None of the children know quite what they are searching for, or what may be searching for them. All they know are the stories that they hear. Stories of demons, shadows, and other children like them who have been lost during the game. One young boy in particular, is searching for his sister, who also played the game and disappeared as the stories foretold.
With the length of this short, it is hardly surprising that the characters are not very fully developed. Fortunately, this is more of a conceptual film, the characters and their personalities hardly play a role in the story. It is what you would expect of a halloween story. The purpose is not to explain the characters, but simply to explain the situation.
The animation is incredible. The focus seems to be tying the scenery of the city to reality. The film excels in creating a familiar environment, one where you might expect the mundane, but where you will never find it. The images of the city seem to be CG, almost lifelike, while the characters are done in a fairly elementary style of animation. There is little detail to speak of in the characters, although the demons are another story entirely, with great complexity and particular attention paid to their movement.
The sound is as strong a force in this film as anything else. You are at once immersed in the city. You can feel the rumblings of the Demon’s steps. You can hear the wailing wind through the city’s hollow crevices. You can even hear the mechanical workings of the automatons in the city as their internal clockwork makes their movement possible.
I can’t stress enough how great this film is. The story far surpasses your typical scary short. The art is incredibly well done. The sound is awesome, completely immersive, and uniquely terrifying. I don’t know how else to say “THIS IS FREAKING AWESOME,” but in short this film is somehow more suited to Halloween than “A Christmas Carol” is to Christmas.
The direction, animation and sound were done so well that as soon as the show begins, you are unmistakably immersed in the world, and the game. The extras were full of content with two interviews, two galleries, and a ‘making of’ show. The ‘making of’ is the most in depth i’ve seen, with storyboard, CG outlines, and final cut being simultaneously displayed, and commentary from two members of the crew.
I was shocked at how much I enjoyed this film. I did not have high expectations, but within a few minutes, I knew that there was great potential. By the end, I was awestruck. I literally howled with delight at the end of the show. If anything deserves a 10 for entertainment, this is it.
With the eerie lack of childish innocence found in Suicide Club, and the brilliant animation of Appleseed, KakuRenBo is a shock from start to finish. Don’t let the childish facade fool you, this film is not just for kids.