The objective of an anime short (OVA) is to test the waters of a film or series. The Japan Animator Expo is part of a collaboration between Hideaki Anno’s (Neon Genesis Evangelion director) Studio Khara and Dwango. The website features mostly 10-minute long ONA (original net animations) from young, aspiring Japanese animators. The goal of this project is to give creators the chance to do projects that they love regardless of the genre.
In August, Japan Animator Expo announced that their first short The Dragon Dentist is inspiring a feature-length version that will air in February 2017. So, we’re looking at some more hidden gems that we’d love to see as a full-fledged season.
Hammerhead – Episode 25
Written and directed by Outarou Maijou (Biorg Trinity, Jorge Joestar) with art direction by Mahiro Maeda (Neon Genesis Evangelion, The Animatrix, One Punch Man), the NSFW short tells the antihero tale from the perspective of the daughter whose father is a criminal with superpowers. But, with his new abilities came the burden that no one can beat him — much like One Punch Man‘s Saitama. All he wants is to find peace through death.
While Hammerhead concentrates on gruesome action scenes, it also has some touching scenes, especially the father-daughter moments. On top of that, the spectacular background imagery flying at your face will without a doubt make this short an excellent candidate for a full season.
Ragnarok – Episode 33
During an international exhibition of giant robots, something goes very wrong, and the robots end up fighting each other. A Hideaki Anno project is not complete without mecha. Directed by Kazuyoshi Katayama (Appleseed, The Big O), Ragnarok is a mecha anime short that has everything to do with explosions and, of course, giant robots fighting each other. However, there isn’t much plot to review. With Hideaki Anno’s input, Ragnarok could easily be a feature-length anime.
I Can Friday by Day! – Episode 19
Many consider the average high school girl as emotional, energetic, and downright weird, however, what a lot of us don’t know is that little aliens pilot them. Their goal is to obtain rare crystals from hot boys. Director Kazuya Tsurumaki (FLCL) returns after more than 16 years with I Can Friday by Day! Having another full-fledged Tsurumaki work will sure fall greatly with his FLCL sequel.
Carnage – Episode 4
Making his directorial debut is Akira Honma with his NSFW revenge Western short, Carnage. The anime follows a one-armed woman with a dark past seeking revenge against a man. The plot itself can be the basis of a pilot and continue after the events of the short. While the animation may not be every fan’s cup of tea, it, however, goes hand-in-hand with the plot. And who knows, maybe this will be the future of animation after CGI.
BUREAU OF PROTO SOCIETY – Episode 29
Director Yasuhiro Yoshiura (Time of Eve, Pale Cocoon, Harmonie) comes with a post-apocalyptic short where a committee tries to decipher what happened to the world. While BUREAU OF PROTO SOCIETY is a parody, it would, however, make a good basis for an anthology series where every episode focuses on how the earth got destroyed, whether by war, aliens or lolli.
Three Fallen Witnesses – Episode 17
The detective/mystery short follows a law enforcement duo who are looking for incriminating evidence in a homicide case, using a time traveling device similar to that in Minority Report. Animators in this Expo get free reign on how they want to bring their vision to life, even if it may not be fans favorite animation style. But, seeing the lack of comedic detective/mystery anime out there, Three Fallen Witnesses will definitely make us mystery buffs happy.
POWER PLANT No. 33 – Episode 11
Another Yasuhiro Yoshiura graces the list, but this time around he crafted a world where humanity exploits Kaiju — a monster that attacks a major city or battles another monster — as a source of energy. But, as luck would have it, something goes wrong, and the Kaiju escapes its electric chains. While POWER PLANT No. 33 is a great short, it could also work as a prelude. The series could answer questions that come up after seeing this short, like how did humans catch the Kaiju and harness its powers in the first place.
On a Gloomy night – Episode 22
First things first, this Japan Animator Expo short is NSFW. Opening with “Auld Lang Syn”, director Tadashi Hiramatsu (Yuri!!! on Ice), tells the very realistic downfall of a prominent society. Through the eyes of Susumu, we see how the Japanese people put all their hope and faith in a political candidate only to be disappointed. The series can take many routes in telling this political drama. Consequently, it could work as a 12-episode season or film.
Japan Animator Expo is a great opportunity for young animators to showcase their talents. Not only on the directorial stage, but also on script development, and above all, animation. Programs like these really develop the new animation trend for the coming years.