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A short film featuring children playing a game of Hide in Seek in a deserted city full of dangerous robots hunting after them. The film won the Tokyo International Anime Fair, where it won the award for Notable Entry in the General Category.
A short but often chilling showcase for modern computer graphics, as masked children play a game of tag in Tokyo's heretofore unknown "Demon City" district, and seemingly informed by Japanese folklorist Kunio Yanagida's claim (quoted at its beginning) that one should never play hide-and-seek at night, lest it awaken demons in the shadows.
Hikora's sister Sorincha is missing. At night in the Demon City the lamps flare of their own accord and dangerous beings stalk the shadows. Masked children play "otokoyo," or hide-and-seek, and every child who has ever played has vanished forever. Hikora and his best friend Yaimao don fox masks and join the gang waiting outside the city gate to reach the seven players required before the gate opens and the game begins. The seekers are monsters, half-machine and half-animal, and the clever ending reveals why the game is played. The short run-time doesn't allow much time for characterization, and this is echoed in the animation, with the characters showing no emotion in their faces or movements; the voice actors have to work extra hard. Director Morita also makes clever use of dim backgrounds, atmospheric lighting and fade-outs to save on actual animation without losing too much impact. He is well supported by the music, which uses unusual sounds to enhance the eerie atmosphere, and employs that rarest of soundtrack elements, silence, very skillfully. Creator-writer-director-producer Morita also did storyboards, CGI animation, and editing, although he shares several credits with the obviously pseudonymous Kuro (Shiro/Kuro = White/Black).
Morita wanted to make a movie merging the old traditions of ghosts and ghouls stalking the darkness with the cities of modern Asia, where children play outside in dark, mazelike streets under flickering neon lights without a second thought, and reinstill that ancient fear of the dark. He succeeds very well, but his influences are just as much from older anime as from tradition. Hikora dresses like Dragon Ball's Son Goku with the addition of a priest's beads, Sorincha is a funky shrine maiden, and the atmosphere of fashionable ennui shares much with Boogiepop Phantom. An intriguing and rewarding exploration of the dark side of Japanese Fairy Tales, taking the eery elements of Spirited Away much further toward the horrific. Morita has also spun off a manga from the movie, starting in October 2005 in the quarterly Magazine Zero. V