By now you've probably seen the enigmatic short
that I posted on May 2nd, but just what IS the story behind it? Unless you speak Japanese, or have a really patient translator, you had to get everything visually and since the project doesn't even have its own Wikipedia entry (as of this writing), I thought I'd do a little digging and see what I could find out.
I think I played bass for "Motorized Unicycle" in high school...
It was created and is being directed by Ushio Tazawa, at Nomad Studios, who handled character design and animation directing on the much-acclaimed " The Place Promised in Our Early Days
" series by Makoto Shinkai. The name of the short literally translates to "unicycle," which refers to the masked fellow's quirky, motorized ride, but is also his title in the movie.
The most vibrant post-Apocalypse you're likely to see.
This man, called Shaleen, is one of the last of his kind traveling a dystopic not-quite-Earth on which a race
of mechanized missile-like creatures have nearly wiped out every trace of humankind. He comes upon a strange girl living alone in the ruins of one of the cities who is being targeted very specifically by the genocidal missile-bots and he takes it upon himself to save her. She's not too thrilled about this decision as she chose a life of isolation to spare anyone else the dangers that she daily faced, and so has no interest in traveling with the hyperactive man, but he's quite persistent, particularly after she reveals the ability to generate an impenetrable barrier around herself. This turns out to be only one of her abilities and unfortunately another ability causes one of the mechanized monsters to become titanic, forcing the two to form an alliance to fight off the newly grown menace. The battle climaxes and ends with the two riding off together, fleeing from a different kind of robot, as TO BE CONTINUED flashes across the screen and the credits roll.
The quality of the animation is absolutely stellar and, while I can't speak to the voice acting since I couldn't understand it, the two characters seem to share a good chemistry. The character designs are very reminiscent of Lupin III
, particularly the extremely tall and angular Shaleen, and I really dig the hyper-stylized art, particularly as it juxtaposes the two characters and makes him stand out even more than he already does, being one of the only humans left. As for the mysterious girl, she has a good, slightly spaced-out feel, and the style eschews the the vivacious, overly busty/leggy cliché. Her look and her expressions communicate the feeling of someone who's experienced more years than they've lived. I'm also a big fan of the tone and color palette on display, as this isn't the usual dismal, desperate, grey and brown post-apocalyptic but an uplifting, colorful explosion of color and kinetic personality. Even the killer robots are brightly colored! I'm intrigued to see how the rest of the story unfolds, so the short has definitely done its job. Check it out below and judge for yourself.