In two short minutes of animation, "Egao" tells a short love story that begins with heart-wrenching melancholy and ends with head-scratching confusion. I suppose Makoto Shinkai has always been a master at manipulating emotion.
Egao certainly does not evoke this confusion through deep or complex storytelling, however; it falls very much on the opposite side of the spectrum. The problem, rather, is that Shinkai just does not say or do much of anything with it. The story starts on a happy note, the unnamed protagonist enjoying the company of her new hamster, and then it decides to suddenly turn things into a story of unrequited
love-- Shinkai's trademark, the same theme that has been present in his stories from the beginning and likely until the day he retires from animation.
To be fair, watching Egao without being able to understand the lyrics would be something of a disservice, as the lyrics are half the story, and, if a bit trite (how many times have we heard Japanese people sing and praise the beauty of the blue sky?), the most emotionally evocative aspect of the anime. The lyrics make it clear that it is not a story about the hamster, but rather about the protagonist being separated from her lover and, by the end, resolving herself to "never give up" again, seemingly ready to give another go with whoever it is she's thinking about.
But so what? Why are we supposed to care? We have no idea why she even decided to change her mind in the first place. It's unreasonable to expect deep characters and storytelling from a two-minute music video, but the least it could have done is use its visuals to detail the protagonist in a deeper way than "I'm sad-- now I'm happy". It comes from nowhere, with her crying in bed and reminiscing about her lover, and somehow ending with a smile on her face despite nothing actually happening. I suppose the hamster lifted her spirits? Or maybe she's just an emotionally unstable and perhaps bipolar person who switches from extreme depression to happiness with the snap of a finger? Your guess is as good as mine.
Even with the song itself being as emotional as it is, it's hard to come away with the feeling that Shinkai was actually trying to say anything of importance with this animation. There's nothing to think about, nothing to consider by the end-- it's just two minutes of nothingness with a sad song playing in the background. It could have been something more if it decided to ditch the whole unrequited love theme and focus solely on the company of the hamster, as a way perhaps of encouraging the audience to appreciate the simple things in life. But there is nothing of the sort here. Not even close. It is an admittedly talented artist playing masturbation, content with just being his usual self rather than saying something to his audience. And that's fine to an extent (maybe his friends enjoyed it or something), but the world of criticism isn't always so forgiving.
Still, it's nice to see the talent of the industry attempting to tell simple, emotional stories with less tools than the typical film or TV series, even if it doesn't always work out so well.
Maybe I'm just silly for expecting quality storytelling from a music video. Hm.
First off this isn't really a proper "anime anime" really. It's actually simply a kind of music video for which the art was constructed by Shinkai-san :) . It's a very short special item so there isn't really much to review for it but it is a fairly entertaining item to simply add to your list.
Story: Well, it is basically as mentioned above and is about a women and her hamster.
Art and Sound: The music itself to which the anime is set is pretty decent. It to me sounds a bit like it could be an opening theme to a
tv series of some sorts possibly. The art though is pretty gorgeous within the context of the style. Everything is nice and crisp and the hamster looks really cute (although strangely huge for a hamster).
Character: Not much to say, not really a 'character-based' anime since it's a music video but the they seem cute enough.
Overall: I would say if you've got 2 minutes spare or you fancy a complete collection on your anime list of Shinkai Makoto works then this is something certainly to watch. What have you got to lose? (Plus, it's probably taken the same amount of time to read this review as you would watching the anime :D)
Shhhh... And listen to the feels. The story was about a woman getting a hamster and him becoming her companion. It's not really an anime but more of a music short. The melody is calming and I listen to this when I'm sad. It's worth a look at and definitely worth your time.