Friday, February 28, 2014

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: La maison en petits cubes

La maison en petits cubes

Official Site: Japanese
Additional Links: ANN Entry, MAL Entry
Video: Crunchyroll (Subscribers only)

For a while, I had planned on spotlighting the 2009 Academy Award winner for Best Animated Short Film, La maison en petits cubes (Tsumiki no Ie), as this month's Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick, as the 2014 Academy Awards are this weekend. Unexpected, however, were the nominations of Hayao Miyazaki's final(?) film, The Wind Rises, and Shuhei Morita's Possessions for Best Animated Feature and Best Animated Short, respectively, which makes this selection all the more timely.

La maison en petits cubes does not look like your typical anime, or perhaps like "anime", at all. A few sticklers have tried to disregard it as such, but did Red Garden, Tekkonkinkreet, Cannon Fodder, or even Gatchaman, Steamboy, or Le Chevalier D'Eon look any more like "anime"? In any case, the circa-12 1/2 min. short centers on an elderly widower who spends his days alone and building his house up ever higher to ward off the ever-increasing water levels. As he is moving his belongings above, he loses his pipe and watches it float down below. In the midst of his dive for it, he passes by each former level of his home, stirring up memories of bygone times…

"Anime" or not, it is, it is not hard at all to see why it was honored with the award and such praise. Beyond it being superbly-produced on every front and -directed is that it possesses a great richness to it, formed from that labor and the entire concept of the film being fully-realized. La maison en petits cubes was also the last anime to win an Academy Award (the first being Miyazaki's masterpiece, Spirited Away, in 2001) and you can view it exclusively at Crunchyroll if you are a subscriber. Unlike most Picks, this one is not "free", per se, but the site does have a free two-week trial that should allow you to watch it if you do not have a subscription already. The short is worth a watch, either way…

P.S.: And as you would have it, Sentai Filmworks just announced their home video licensing of the short film anthology that "Possessions" belongs to, Short Peace. Additionally, the video game that was also part of the mulitmedia project, Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day, will be released along with Short Peace on the PS3 via the PlayStation Network this spring.

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