After a number of Asian animation reviews, the time to deal with Japanese anime time was due, although “Cocolors” is not exactly the average production of the category, as Shibuya-based animators Kamikaze Douga use a signature skill of animation, that we will discuss further ahead in the article. The film is the second entry in the “Gasoline Mask” project, after the homonymous, first part.
“Cocolors” screened at Fantasia International Film Festival
The story takes place in a world where the eruption of Mt Fuji has filled with a dark ash, which can burn human flesh and is even deadly to breath. Humanity, in order to survive, has retreated deep underground, where everyone is wearing astronaut-like suits and masks, in order to survive the ash. In this awful setting, Aki, a not so brave boy, tries to protect his sickly, mute friend Fuyu, as he joins a team that is to venture outside in search of sources.
Toshihisa Yokoshima directs a very dark anime in a techno-dystopian environment, filled with drama, death, pain, sorrow, despair and occasionally violence, where the happy moments are very few and very brief. Even the slightest hope is taken away from the two kids who struggle to believe that there is something beyond the dark world they live in. Ecological messages about the destruction of the environment and some minor comments about the impact of religion on people add depth to the story, while the few violent scenes are truly shocking, since the protagonists are all kids. Occasionally though, I felt that Yokoshima had a lot more to say than what would fit in the 46 minutes of the short, with some of his messages left incomplete. Due to that, I would love for this to become a feature eventually.
Yoshihiko Ishiguro’s animation serves these aesthetics perfectly, through a trademark technique of Kamikaze Douga that combines cel-shaded 3D CG with the traditional Japanese printmaking technique, which is applied to every detail, from the character expression to the background art. This technique results in a visually impressive production, where every aspect is presented as realistically as possible, as the level of detail is very high. Lastly, some impressive tracks, particularly the ones featuring percussion, and the elaborate use of lights heighten the artistry of the production even more.
“Cocolors” highlights the abilities of its creators, and is one of those titles that could benefit the most from some funding, in order for them to create full features. The material for that is certainly there.