Why do you watch anime? Is it to passively waste away the spare hours of your life, or is it in the faint hope that the next anime you watch will actually make you feel something meaningful? At twelve minutes, La Maison en Petits Cubes will not waste much of your time, but it will move you on a profound and emotional level.
Even at face value, the story is a clever and innovative science-fiction tale, involving a rising sea level that forces our protagonist to build his house higher and higher. When he inadvertently drops a precious item into the sea, he's forced to explore the now sunken buildings of his youth. However, what makes the short touching and universal is not the inventive premise, but the strong metaphorical undercurrent that runs through the work. As the hero rediscovers the ruined remnants of his past, La Maison becomes a wistful meditation on nostalgia and old age, and a potent one at that.
Considering the anime's length, the emotional impact of the story speaks to the deftness with which it is executed. Short films are usually mere passing diversions: an interesting snapshot and nothing more. La Maison en Petits Cubes is the one in a million exception - the rare short film that not only tickles the mind, but challenges the soul.
A primary advantage of animated shorts is that they allow for more artistic freedom than in more profit-minded television series and movies. La Maison is no exception; the visual style is far removed from traditional anime, but is wonderful as a result. With hand drawn backgrounds and a carefully muted color palette, the short is able to exude a warmth and personality that would have been impossible for a more conventional, computer-aided approach.
La Maison has no spoken dialogue, but to call it “silent” would be to ignore the amazing music. Understated and wistful, Kenji Kondo’s soundtrack is a beautiful fit to the bittersweet work.
The only major character in the film is the unnamed protagonist: an old man living in solitude. At first, he is merely an object of curiosity, an obsolete relic to study and decipher. However, as he begins to relive his past life, the man's half-forgotten memories gradually breathe warmth and life into his character. By the time the anime finishes, he becomes both a sympathetic character and a powerful symbol; one sees not the nostalgic loneliness of the protagonist, but of all humanity.
In spite of the pretentious French title, La Maison en Petits Cubes is a gem with universal appeal. This is the second anime to ever win an Academy Award after Spirited Away, and it deserves the accolade. Don’t miss it.
La Maison en Petits Cubes
I didn't see this coming. Even though it won an Academy Award, I have been living in an utter darkness until vivafruit switched the lights on with his review.
First thing you will notice is the distinctive style. La Maison en Petits Cubes is an art piece and I mean it. I would spend a whole day in a gallery featuring scenes from it. It is not using that cheap way of some recent shows who regard beauty only as smooth hd lines. I tip my hat to all the artists who breathed a life into this beautiful work.
As the whole thing is without voice acting, music is really important. Fortunately it is on par with the visuals. Little guitar accords joyfully hopping around, flutes running like a fresh breeze and piano gently touching our skin. Music is skillfully connected to the visuals and together it creates unforgettable atmosphere.
And then there is the story. It is like a classic poetry, embracing memories we have deep inside us and often forget about. It is very lyrical and won't appeal to everyone, but you should give it a try. La Maison en Petits Cubes is the finest example of storytelling without words.
Such gems are quite rare, it is definitely worth your time.
Lucky number seven. My lucky number isn't seven though but it might be for someone else around here. It was only poignant to make this anime short my seventh review as it is one of my favorite shorts and the fact that I've gotten particularly lazy lately but the show and reviews must go on. Anyway, no spoilers or cursing as usual for my reviews. Comments and review the reviewer, please! I appreciate it. Do not forget to check out my other reviews. Now onto the Le Maison en Petits Cubes review!
Story; There is not much I can write about a ten minute short film. It's clear to me that the story of this short is reflecting on the cycle of life and love. I am going to go out on a limb and say that Disney's Up borrowed heavily from this short or vice-versa. Although it is worth noting that I didn't care for Up either. Just so you know I'm not implying anything. There were many similarities. It was an enjoyable ten minutes but I just did not feel it was particularly special or moved by it.
Animation; Warm, attention grabbing, beautiful and unique. It was clear going into this that this was going to be something special and an achievement in animation. It was a correct feeling because it raised the bar for what animation should be and look like. It's a shame that the rest of the industry (except maybe France, go figure) did not take this style and use it more often. What a crime, what a crime.
Sound; The soundtrack, which is composed by Kenji Kondo, is a touching piece but that really all you can say about it. It did not succeed at much but setting the tone of the short film. I hoped for something better perhaps? It could have been worse, do not get me wrong. It's by no means awful or else I would not have given it the second highest score in this review. There was something redeemable about it.
Characters; Clocking in about 12 minutes, we do not know anything about this man, but we see the glimpses of his past and how happy he was. He doesn't seem nearly as happy as he used to be. He has to keep on rebuilding his home to beat the waters. His wife is deceased and his children have moved on without him. He is pretty lonely and that is really all we understand about him. If only it expanded further on who the old man is.
Overall; Le Maison en Petits Cubes was an enjoyable way to spend ten or so minutes. Nicely animated with a solid story, an appropriate tune for background music and a gentle but not very developed character. The only crime is that it is not longer, but I think its appropriate as it is. It did not move me as much as anyone else I know, but perhaps its just me being such a jaded fan of animation in general.
Although the title, La Maison en Petits Cubes, is fairly unusual for anime, I wasn't expecting anything too unusual. So I was definitely suprised to find that it was much more like a western animated film. It reminded me of the beginning of Up (and i really liked the beginning of that film).
Story - 7
This short film tells a neat story, set in the future where flooding has required people to progressively add new storeys to their homes on a regular basis. An old man goes to retrieve object bottom of his multi-storey home, as he passes each storey it brings back a story from his past. Although, the start is interesting, the rest of the film is somewhat predictable. The story is well told but not particularly unique.
Animation - 9
The animation of this film is arguably what makes this film special. The hand drawn feel of this film heightens the nostalgia this film evokes. The color scheme really adds to the atmosphere of the film.
Characters - 7
There is only one character in the film and the director does a great job in converying his loneliness in a changing world.
Sound - 7
Given that their is no voice acting, the music plays an important roll in making sure the film progresses smoothly. The soundtrack suited the film but didn't impress me that much.
This a neat film and a excellent example of great story telling. I only found out that this won the academy award for best short film after watching it, and to be honest I was somewhat suprised.
This is the first time I've given somethig all tens. This is a short animated film about an old man and his memoreis it will really pull your heart strings its been a long time since i cried for anything i watched but this deserves every tear I recomend this to anyone.