When we talk about animation as a storytelling medium, it is often assumed that the aim of animation is to make as fluid movement as possible. While that assumption is not entirely wrong, that does not mean limited animation cannot convey what they are supposed to tell. As an audio visual medium, how many frames used in a second is not the only thing that determines how good an animated work is. Normal Japanese anime rarely use full animation, but rather, they use limited animation to convey their message. Some anime even push it further by creating really limited animation that use only a few frames in each second, and then flex their creative muscle to create a unique experience for viewers and tell the story in their own way. One of them is Tabi Machi Late Show, a short anime series that was aired in the winter 2016 season.
Written and directed by Yuu Numata, Tabi Machi Late Show is a series of 4 episodes short anime that play around themes of “goodbyes” and “journeys”. The series is animated by CoMix Wave Film, a studio well known as the studio where director Makoto Shinkai create his feature films and animated commercials. While Shinkai’s works best known for his photo-realistic looks and feels, not many knows that CoMix Wave Film is also involved in some aesthetically unique short anime like Peeping Life series or even Inferno Cop. Tabi Machi Late Show is Yuu Numata’s directorial debut and, interestingly, is storyboarded by Mateusz Urbanowicz, a Polish background artist who usually works for Shinkai in his animated commercial works and in the upcoming CoMix Wave feature film, Your Name (Japanese title: Kimi no Na Wa).
For the most part, animation in Tabi Machi Late Show looks really limited. The characters are not really moving on screen. If a usual anime nowadays can use about 8 or 12 frames per each second, in this anime, a frame can lasts more than a second. When the frame changes, it uses simple fading transition to make it smooth. Viewers can see that Tabi Machi Late Show do not aim for fluid animation. Instead, they create a simple but unique art to make them interested in the first place.
This unconventional approach influences the way Tabi Machi Late Show presents its story. Very limited animation makes the pace feels really slow. While it seems to inhibit viewers’ interest, it also allows viewers to subconsciously be more aware of the sound aspect. This is where Tabi Machi Late Show excels. Both the background music and sound effects suit this show perfectly. The sound effects especially play a significant part in this anime. It gives the sense of “life” in the characters. Very limited animation leads to many still frames, which normally will lead viewers into confusion because characters are not doing anything on screen. But the sound effects fill that part. Instead of making the viewers see what happened on screen, Tabi Machi Late Show let them hear. While the animation is limited, this does not come as a restriction as the other details get the polish.
The background music also gives more impact to the viewers. As a show that plays with the theme of “goodbyes,” music helps Tabi Machi Late Show to set the mood. In each episode, Tabi Machi Late Show tells the story of two persons who would later will be separated. All of them use the same theme, but each story also gives different message and feel. In an episode, Tabi Machi Late Show treats goodbyes as a source of sadness, where the two characters regret their separation. In another episode however, goodbyes can be treated as an inspirational moment that have to be experienced so we can move forward. The music successfully capture those feelings, whether they are serious, relaxed, or melancholic. The simple art also helps to make the music shine. Without any complicated movement on screen, the viewers can focus themselves into the music and let it guide their feelings.
Tabi Machi Late Show is not a show that aims for fluid animation. The animation is very limited and every episode only have 8 minutes to tell their stories. But despite that, Tabi Machi Late Show still able to convey not only the stories, but also how they are supposed to feel. By using very limited animation, Tabi Machi Late Show directs the viewers’ attention to the sound aspect, letting the viewers to feel what actually happened between the characters. Tabi Machi Late Show excels because the staff chose not to take limited animation as a disadvantage, and concentrate on the other aspect that can make this show shines. Tabi Machi Late Shows is recommended for viewers who are looking for a show that plays around with the themes of goodbyes, and also more interested on how the staff execute that theme.
The Indonesian Anime Times | by Dany Muhammad