Jan 11, 2017
Once in a while you may come across an anime which you'd literally understand nothing about. Either it may be too complex for your brain to grasp at face value, or it may offer little to zero substance at all that you do not really know where to extract the essence of maybe the characters, the plot, or the premise to begin with. You may watch the thing again, adjust the brightness and sounds just a little bit, still understand nothing, wonder if this shit is some sort of a joke or a failed attempt to boggle the mind of the viewers, rate it with
the lowest possible score on MAL and carry on with your boring life.
Let's cut to the chase. This short animation can legitimately count as one of those aforementioned moments in the entire lifetime of a casual anime viewer. Ai, as it was entitled, features a 7-second animation of nothing but the roughly presented face of what is apparent to be a woman, as she seemingly changes facial expressions until the scene eventually fades into nothingness (The screen becomes black at like half of the entire 7 seconds, which I think is wasted time and could have been exploited better to add "plot" or symbolism or whatever. Either way I don't think it would be enough to make sense of the story though.) It could've even been possible that the creator never made any serious intent in crafting the animation, or it even appears to be a part of a bigger anime perhaps.
I believe that giving it a score of 1 is obvious, if not necessarily imperative. This is precisely because it does not offer any sort of unique identifiable plot, nor even a distinguishable premise at the very least. Like it could be any story about some woman. It wasn't even enough to make it look like an identifiable scene in a bigger story. Because of this, it could be said that the amount of effort put in Ai that the average reasonable viewer can most likely see is very underwhelming compared to other shorts. A defense of this can be attributed to the time frame of mere 7 seconds to wrap things up, which of course is not enough to create an understandable story, but from what the animation offers, I could feel a lazy attempt to even prolong what isn't supposed to be. I felt like the transition of the woman changing gestures into fading away was even poorly paced, if pacing even existed in the anime short. The problem is that every scene frame does not make a significant difference from the other scene frames. In short, Ai can take out the changing of gestures of the woman, condense it into a single scene and automatically transition into black and still make no difference. In essence therefore, 7 seconds can still be shortened and basically retell the same story, proving that the effort to make wise usage of the time allotment was at best mediocre. Another problem I see in the transition is that the changes in the facial gesture of the woman do not really make sense. They weren't progressive, like you do not know whether the woman is gradually showing positive affect or gradually bursting into tears. It does not tell a clear story, really.
But the actual reason why I wrote this review, aside from my justification of giving it a very low score (the lowest, obviously), is that I found several interesting things in the 7-second short. This definitely does not make the animation more entertaining to watch, nor argue a higher rating for Ai. What it does tell me is that the animation is still worth watching and pondering about. This is based on an idea that making a particular anime very, very vague allows viewers to some extent to craft the story themselves, take note of the significance of minute plot details and take a deeper level of thinking, far beyond what an anime actually offers to begin with. Although it may not be primarily intended by the writers, but somehow taking such role yourself to make sense of it and probably fill in gaps in the plot makes your time spent watching it more or less fulfilling in a way.
One of the interesting things I'd like to point out is the title, and might as well include the genre. The animation is entitled "Ai", which means love, and it is in the romance genre. So people may actually question, "Why the fuck is this anime entitled love? Where the fuck is love shown there?" Usually, when people want to connect the title and the actual plot, we utilize the plot to make sense of the title. Like we ensure that the title fits the plot by making certain that the plot dedicates itself to expounding what the title is actually all about. When for example the title is Fullmetal Alchemist, the plot instinctively becomes faithful to justifying that the anime is all about the Fullmetal Alchemist. What's interesting with Ai, in my opinion, is that the plot cannot justify the title, primarily because number one, the plot does not make sense, and second thing is that even when we viewers try to make sense of the story it does not uniquely fit the title because it could be just any other story - story about pain, depression and not necessarily connected to love. I believe, thus, that it is more appealing to use the title to justify the plot. Like here we are presented with the plot and we use the title to try and make essence of the story. So the slow transition of the woman's facial expressions is about love. What kind of love could it be? Judging from the seemingly pained expression, the woman might be a lover, suffering from pain probably attributed to the failure of having her love reciprocated. So in a sense the transition might be to show us how the woman suffered until she died, with the feelings probably slowly fading away as well. It could be any other story, but considering that it was entitled to be about romance, it could necessarily paint a picture relying heavily on instinctive symbolism to become understandable to the viewer.
Another thing that interested me as well is the two seemingly skin-toned stuff diagonally situated at both sides of the screen, because it provides an additional insight to the possible story the short is trying to convey. At best, what I apparently view them are the woman's legs (And yes I am not intentionally imagining things). This may split into two different possible plot routes. They may sound absurd, but if you actually believe in the significance of every plot detail, surely things could probably be plausible in either route. The first thing, which makes sense of the title "Ai" or love, is that the woman could possibly be having sex. It's not in a perverted way but somehow, it could reveal story of a woman being so in love that she is ready to give up even for instance her virginity for the sake of the person she loves. And what is interesting is that her facial expressions somehow makes sense, and the rough transition in a way jives with this premise. The second possible story line, which I personally prefer, is a picture of childbirth. Similar to the first premise, the pain of childbirth coincides with the facial expressions of the mother, and what's even more interesting is how the transition into nothingness reveals a nice argument for the plot. She probably died in the process. It shows how great the love mothers have towards their children, and at what cost they have to pay. Of course mothers do not normally die because of childbirth, but the effort to bear the pain, even at the face of impending death is something commendable and worthy of salute to mothers.
Ai - So what does it basically talk about? It could probably show anything but clarity. But that ambiguity enables the viewers to reflect beyond what the story delivers, even possibly far beyond what the writer intended to begin with. Ai - A demonstration of love beyond the realm of pain, and how much a certain woman is willing to suffer, all for the sake of people who matter.
What did you think of this review?