Last year 16 companies applied to JAniCA for 38 million yen in order to create their own 23-minute original animation using their young animators. Earlier this year the 4 winners released their animations and I've finally gotten around to watching all of them.
Ojiisan no Lamp
This first one recounted the life of a boy's grandfather who used to sell lamps. The story basically revolves around how the westernisation of his small Japanese village initially made him rich before leading to his ruin. The animation was excellent, the simplicity of it's plot was one of it's most appealing points and their were simply no flaws I could see.
Kizuna Ichigeki - One-Hit Kizuna
This one's much simpler than Ojiisan no Lamp in terms of character design and to some extent even story. This one is about a young girl called Kizuna who lives with her father and grandfather at a martial arts school. Due to her upbringing Kizuna is very talented and the show begins with her winning a championship and it's 100 million yen prize, allowing her grandfather to pay off his debts. The man she beats in the finals is obviously not pleased with his loss and it comes to light that Kizuna was in fact ineligible for the prize as she was still 2 days away from her 13th birthday. Due to this several other martial artists try and challenge her within those two days in order to become champion. This was a fun 23 minutes with some nice comedy every now and then and good enough characters, but it's certainly not anything special.
Bannou Yasai Ninninman - Super Veggie Torracman
Young Mari is the centre of attention for this show, along with her hatred for carrots, peppers and milk, and fear of crossing a certain bridge after a childhood incident, a fear that also causes problems with her friend after she gets a new dog, which means she is unable to go the long way to school with Mari in order to avoid the bridge because her parents say it isn't safe to walk the dog near the road. After being forced the eat her dreaded carrots, peppers and milk at school for dinner she collapses, waking up in the nurses office to find that the ghosts of those three foods have come to life and are now speaking to her, much to her annoyance. Without giving away the story, these three end up helping her towards the end of the show, although she is still unable to cross the bridge as the 23 minutes end. I liked this one quite a bit, the backgrounds were nice and the character animations were quite good too. The story was very good for something that was only 23 minutes long and I even found my self getting a little teary-eyed at one point.
Tansu Warashi - Wardrobe Dwellers
The rather basic premise for this one is of a wardrobe that has been passed from 'mistress to 'mistress' down the main characters family which contains a number of spirits to help them in their daily life. The animation was nothing special, but nor was it particularly bad, it was just... in the middle, something which I feel added to the charm of it's already very charming array of characters. Each of the spirits have their own unique personalities and skills with which they help the very normal female office worker who finds herself the be their latest 'mistress'. The attractiveness of all of the characters led me to grow to them very quickly within the short 23 minutes, leading to a heart-warming yet sad ending.
Overall, I very much enjoyed these four and the latter three provided me with a very pleasant Sunday morning (which is perhaps why I gave Ojiisan no Lamp such a small paragraph as I watched it a good week or two ago) and all of them except for Ojiisan no Lamp could very easily becoming fully fledged series that I'd very happily watch. I'd recommend you watch all of these if you are a fan of anime or perhaps just want something inoffensive and enjoyable to watch for 23 minutes on a weekend. All four can be downloaded from here.
In other anime news, the final two episodes of Madoka Magica have finally been given dates after the disruption caused by the earthquake and tsunami and will be airing on April 22nd, so there's still more anime posts to come before my Spring 2011 Mid-Season Impressions (which looks to be packed with shows as I'm already watching 6 and won't be surprised if I end up picking up a couple more by then).