Old but good.
Studio: GONZO, Production I.G, GAINAX, Studio 4°C, MADHOUSE, Comix Wave Film, Satelight
Directors: MAEDA Mahiro, YABUTA Tatsuya (with Murata Range), TAKEUCHI Atsushi, HAYASHI Akemi, OSHII Mamoru, Michael Arias, KON Satoshi, ODA Tobira and SHIMIZU Yasuyuki, SHINKAI Makoto, NISHIMI Shoujirou, NAKAZAWA Kazuto, KAWAMORI Shoji, SOEJIMA Yasufumi, KIMURA Shinji, and KOBAYASHI Osamu.
Genre: Short experimental animation
Status: Completed, not licensed
My Rating: 9.0/10
Ani*Kuri 15 was a short animation series which aired on NHK from 2007 to 2008. Each episode was one minute and was directed and animated by different directors and studios. There were a total of three seasons, with 5 episodes each. These shorts have no recurring theme due to the differences in producers, but they were all meant to showcase a sample of the variety of styles and themes found in Japanese animation.
Review: This covers all fifteen episodes, but some “reviews” are shorter than others. Majority of reviews do not include summaries. The episodes and main producers are listed as “director name” x “production studio name”. Click on the title to see a frame from the short. Recommended ones are asterisked.
I (highly) recommend this series to anyone interested in exploring the different styles present in the Japanese animation scene, and it’s a very good starting point for getting to know all the studios and directors showcased here.
1. おんみつ☆姫* (Onmitsu☆Hime/Secret☆Princess) – 前田真宏/MAEDA Mahiro x GONZO
One of my top favourites in this series. The number of frames this short has is amazing, and although it doesn’t have a thought-provoking theme, Maeda was really able to make full use of his one minute, adding in non-stop action and a billion of other things one can only catch after several viewings. Very colourful and fun, and cute Maeda-style characters too.
2. ジャイロソプター – MURATA Range & 藪田達也/YABUTA Tatsuya x GONZO
A full-CG work with designs by Murata Range and directed by Yabuta Tatsuya. Intriguing world view and mechanical structure designs, but the CG used here, especially in rendering a human face, makes the age of this short apparent.
3. ワンダバキッス* – 竹内敦志/TAKEUCHI Atsushi x Production I.G
One of my favourites. Wandaba Kiss is a lively and charming short involving two children and some interesting contraptions. Wonderful and faintly intricate succession of events and mechanics make this a joy to rewatch. Animation work is impeccable and fluid, and is reminiscent of the textured Production I.G style.
4. ナミダの向こう・・ (Namida no Mukou../Beyond the tears..) – 林明美/HAYASHI Akemi x GAINAX
A short with a melancholic atmosphere set to a ballad with vocals. The music and sequence matches well, but little seems to actually happen in it. The animation is not detailed and there is little action, but the style and character designs fits the theme of the title and song well.
5. PROJECT_MERMAID – OSHII Mamoru x Production I.G
Sequence with images segmented and “animated” to look as if they’re moving through something like a shimmering tunnel. The point and theme isn’t too apparent, which gives one some food for thought. Not much actual traditional animation, and consists mostly textures and effects.
6. おっかけっこ (Okkakekko) – Michael Arias x Studio 4°C
Interesting but odd short from the director of Tekkon Kinkreet. It strongly reminded me of Laputa. The children’s faces look slightly eerie, but I liked the atmosphere and setting of the whole thing. Good sound effects, voices, and background music as well.
7. オハヨウ* (OHAYOU/Good Morning) – KON Satoshi x MADHOUSE
My favourite. The animation and artwork are exquisite and incredibly detailed, and every frame is impeccable. Pretty cool premise as well. Totally flawless and deserves at least 2-3 rewatches to catch all the details in the backgrounds. Good thing it’s only one minute!
8. スポーツ大佐 第18話 「刺客が山狩りに来た！！」* (Sports Taisa Dai 18 wa “Shikaku ga Yamagari ni Kita!!”/Sports Colonel Episode 18: The assassin has come on a mountain hunt!!” – ODA Tobira/小田扉 & SHIMIZU Yasuyuki/清水保行 x Studio 4°C
Whimsical, fun, and mostly black-and-white short with a very bold and distinctive art style which I’d like to see more anime done in. The faces are wonderful, and that voice is awesome.
9. 猫の集会* (Neko no Shuukai/Cats’ Meeting) – SHINKAI Makoto x Comix Wave Film
Great animation and story coupled with a compelling theme and well-matched music make this one of the best shorts in Ani*Kuri15. Fun and cute premise that is a welcome departure from Shinkai’s usual serious stories of love and distance (though perhaps it is only because his usual theme cannot be fully realized in a mere minute). As with his other work, the art and lighting in this is excellent and very detailed. Wonderful conclusion as well.
10. 宇宙人襲来 ヒロシの場合 (Uchuujin Shuurai Hiroshi no Baai/Alien Invasion: The Case of Hiroshi) – NISHIMI Shoujirou/西見祥示郎 x Studio 4°C
An entertaining peek at the case of Hiroshi, which deals with an act of mischievousness. Interesting and fitting style for the theme.
11. 「ゆルルル」～日常編～* (“Yurururu”~Nichijou Hen~/”Yurururu”~Daily Life Arc~) – NAKAZAWA Kazuto/中澤一登 x Studio 4°C
Another one of my favourites because it’s both charming and cool. Talks about a day in the life of an animator at the studio, and is set to fun and fitting music.
12. プロジェクトΩ* (Project Omega) – KAWAMORI Shoji/河森正治 x Satelight
Incredibly high quality animation and epic setting and progression. Wish there was more to it at the end, but the one minute was full of action and passed by extremely quickly. Top notch!
13. ヒョットコ (HYOTTOKO/Blaze Man) – SOEJIMA Yasufumi/ソエジマヤスフミ x GONZO
Interesting setting that I don’t see in Japanese animation much. The CG’s not too bad, and actually reminds me of PS2-era 3D CG. Quite a bit of action but not much of a story.
14. アタックオブ東町２丁目 (Attack of Higashimachi 2nd District) – KIMURA Shinji/木村真二 x Studio 4°C
Cool mix of art styles and a good but small twist on the regular alien invasion theme. Love the cardboard buildings.
15. 三茶ブルース (Sancha Blues) – KOBAYASHI Osamu/小林治 x MADHOUSE
A short drawn and animated in Kobayashi’s usual and very distinctive style. The animation may seem choppy, but that actually enhances the style of the short. Every frame is detailed and complete (MADHOUSE quality), and the theme is silly but entertaining in a way.