Mizu no Kotoba (Aquatic Language) is a nine-minute short and the first completed work of Yoshiura Yasuhiro. It’s almost impossible to describe its plot: essentially it’s a collection of conversations in a cafe that may all be connected in a weird way. Definitely deserves the title Aquatic Language as the power of words and images are definitely a theme here, or at least I think they are. It’s a very abstract work, but that adds to its charm. It’s lighly philosophical in a way that raises more questions than it even tries to answer, but that feels deliberate as it’s really trying to get the viewer to think more than anything else. The animation is good for an amateur work and the character designs just scream artsy to me; they’re not wholly realistic like Eve no Jikan and feature rounded, almost cartoonish characters. The only version I could find was a dubbed version on youtube, which is passable but oh so amateur. It doesn’t stop this from being a marvelously quirky and intelligent piece of art.
Pale Cocoon is a half-hour OVA that has been compared to Shinkai’s Voices of a Distant Star, as both feature homemade CG and beautiful animation. The story is that years in the future humanity has been forced to leave Earth and live in giant metallic structures. In one of these structures is the Archive, a massive collection of all information, including critical pieces from before Earth was destroyed that must be decoded and analyzed. Ura is one of the few analysts left in the archive, as the menial and ultimately depressing act drives everyone away. His only companions are a nameless coworker who voices similar disillusionment with his work and Riko, a pretty girl who has completely abandoned her job and instead lies for hours staring at the dark void where her grandmother fell to her death. Ura’s discovery of a video fragment provides a chance to break out of the melancholic cycle and discover the true nature of the world.
Pale Cocoon saves no expense to assail you with pessimism and darkness. The characters live in a barely lit world of metal walkways and pipes, narrow spaces and no freedom. This is similarly reflected in the characters’s mindsets as they wonder what is the purpose of discovering things that no longer exist. That Ura and Riko ultimately find hope in what is essentially a music video is a very interesting, and somehow very Japanese, twist as the information that had so depressed them shows them a way out. I can’t say I fully understand the revelation at the end because I’m unclear on what the characters’s original perceptions were, but it’s definitely a brilliant climax to the story in both our viewing and the characters’s feelings. Pale Cacoon is a dark sci-fi tale, but in the way that all good sci-fi is it’s essentially a very human tale about loneliness and hope. Both these works are great in their own way and anyone who wants to look at the artistic side of anime should definitely view all of Yoshiura Yasuhiro’s works.