The works which deserve honourable mentions are:
The Death Vendor – When a young unkempt boy may well be the next gatekeeper to the great beyond, everyone better be careful! Jeon Jinkyu‘s work stands out as he’s simply animating pencil sketches. Juxtaposed on top are visions in red; the colour symbolizes death. The kid sees the corpses of young birds in crimson. The skeletons of those he sees are also tainted vermillion. It’s all the same colour to him, and that’s worrisome.
The grim reaper he sees standing in the chicken coup brings to mind Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal.
The haunting soundtrack expresses more than simple melancholy. No dialogue is offered and the visual narrative is enough to hint at what the boy represents.
Goldfish – This Chinese work by Taiwanese picture-maker Fish Wang and it’s perhaps the wildest of this bunch in its hyperactive look at a dystopian future where dreams are consumed and nobody bothers to do a thing about it! One child does. he tries to help others keep their soul, but ultimately, his attempts feel fruitless.
There were many times I hoped GeGeGe no Kitarō would appear. The art style looks heavily inspired by Shigeru Mizuki’s work. The difference lays in whether or not these two worlds can coexist. Probably not, as the humans are the minority species and the monsters love feeding on their fears. Dante would have a field day trying to describe the hell which exists here.
Anyone who has seen Ujicha‘s The Burning Buddha Man (Youtube link to trailer here) will know what his next work, Tempura, follows up on. It’s a bizarre and outright surreal work. This filmmaker uses gekimation (using paper cutouts and moving them in real time in front of a camera); while the style works, it’s like watching a very tripped up version of South Park! One reason I was curious about this piece is because the summary mentioned plenty of B-movie and pop culture references to make Rick and Morty look tame.
True to the namesake of this short, I’m tempted to believe this animator actually dipped his works of art (the details on those cutouts are exquisite) in batter and deep fry them fast enough to get those textures. Imagine my eyes bulging out in surprise when Masashi and Takeshi, in search of their dog, encounter the tempura monster! All they have are their squirt guns and no bukkake jokes are required here. This work is not recommended for tender young minds, but for the Adult Swim crowd, it’s a must!
The dangers they encounter are a popcorn rated wonder. The weirdness going on has my brain hurting. I love the dialogue, and subtitles to understand the chaos going on is required. This work must be seen to be believed. Just when fans of animation has thought they have seen it all, no they haven’t. Ujicha is pioneering a new world!