Puparia

Puparia

A Modern Classic

Puparia (PUPARIA) is an original anime film by Shingo Tamagawa that released on November 20, 2020. It’s 3 minutes long, and the video embedded above is from his official YouTube channel if you’re interested in checking it out before continuing on with this review.

Before watching this short film, I had no idea who Shingo Tamagawa was. But after looking through his previous anime positions, I saw that he was actually a key animator for episode 4 of March comes in like a lion 2nd Season. That’s the only other anime I’ve seen that he’s worked on, but I think it’s a 10/10 so that’s not bad.

Puparia is very different from March comes in like a lion though, or any other anime I’ve seen for that matter. There’s no dialogue, and as far as I can tell there’s no story either. Maybe Shingo had some sort of story he was trying to tell when he was making this. But I have no idea what it is.

A girl and a giant moth from the short anime film Puparia
A girl and a giant moth

However, despite the fact that it’s only 3 minutes long, has no dialogue, and has no discernible plot, it feels good to watch. I watched through it a few times and sat thinking about it for about 40 minutes before I began writing this review. There’s a lot to digest despite how it may appear.

It actually reminded me of some classic anime, which is why I chose the title “A Modern Classic” for this section. My first impression was that it has a similar vibe to Serial Experiments Lain and Texhnolyze despite the subject matter being vastly different.

The music reminds me of Akira for some reason. Maybe there was a similar track in that, but I don’t remember. What I do remember though is that it’s similar to the song “Those Everyday Feels” from Made in Abyss.

Renaissance Art Animated

My favorite part of this short anime film is the art. I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of people who watch it will agree with me on that. At first, I was thinking that it looks like a colored manga, but animated. Not an anime adaptation of a colored manga, but as if the manga itself was animated.

But on my second watch through, I decided that comparison wasn’t quite right. There are plenty of manga that look amazing, but the art in this series is on another level. It was during the scene of the man looking down the hall that I realized what the art reminded me of — Renaissance art.

The character art is definitely good in Puparia. But the background art is where I think it really shines. There’s just so much detail that it really is like you’re looking at a Renaissance painting that happens to have characters moving through it.

A man looking down a hall in a house from the short anime film Puparia
A man looking down a hall in a house

I’m a huge fan of stylized and detailed art in anime. It can be on the tamer side, like Monogatari, or even on the more extreme side, like Mononoke. But as long as an anime looks different from the usual batch of seasonal shows, I’ll tend to like it a bit more.

The problem is that making a stylized anime is a risk. There are a lot of people who see an anime that doesn’t fit the standard, generic art style they’re accustomed to and write it off without giving it a chance. Ping Pong the Animation is one such series that I think probably suffers from this.

So, unfortunately, there aren’t all that many full-length anime out there that have art styles as unique and detailed as Puparia does. In This Corner of the World is one that stands out to me. But even that doesn’t have the same art style. That one looks like watercolors while this one looks like colored pencils.

Uncanny Eyes

One thing I didn’t really like about this short film is the lack of facial expressions on the various characters. The only time we saw a character without a blank expression was when the moth girl smiles at the very end. Though, I will say that I still felt like I understood the feelings of the man in the house even without any expression.

Anyway, the part of the faces that were focused on the most were the eyes, which is something I enjoy. Whenever there’s a cool shot of a character’s eyes, I’m a fan. And despite what I’m about to say about a particular pair of eyes in this film, I’m still a fan of them.

For the most part, I enjoyed the eyes in Puparia simply because they were highly detailed. But the movement of the moth girl’s eyes at the end was extremely unsettling. I’m not sure why exactly it was, but there are a few possible explanations I can think of.

Some sort of alien moth girl from the short anime film Puparia
Some sort of alien moth girl

I’m not sure if this is actually the case or not, because I’m no animation expert, but the moth girl’s eyes being averted looked like the smoothest animation of the film to me. So perhaps the uncanny movement had to do with it appearing smoother than everything else.

Another possible explanation is that it’s connected to the widening of her eyes when her pupils move. It looks like a primal response to her hearing something off in the distance. Not like she heard something and turned towards it out of interest. More like she instinctively reacted in that way.

And I think the fact that we don’t know what she was reacting to adds to it. What elicited that kind of response out of her? Is something bad coming? Maybe, but at the same time, her smile was reassuring.

Conclusion

If you’ve made it this far, I’m going to assume you’ve watched Puparia since it’s embedded at the top of this review. So what do you think of it? Let me know in the comments. To me, I think it’s a 7/10. It’s very artistic, and I like that, but I’d also like a bit more identifiable substance.

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Finally, I’d like to thank HeavyROMAN for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month and for recommending Puparia to me. And I’d also like to thank Key Mochi~ for supporting at the Senpai tier this month. To learn more about how you too can become a supporter of this blog, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

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