Both shorts will be set in Saga prefecture, and will highlight the prefecture's culture.
"Yakusoku no Utsuwa - Arita no Hatsukoi" will be set in the town of Arita, and will be a youth story highlighting the scenery of Arita.
"Fuyu no Chikai, Natsu no Matsuri - Takeoshi no Dai-Kusunoki" is set in the city of Takeoshi, and will center on two characters, a boy and a girl, who grow up watched over by a large camphor tree that endures the time and seasons.
The poster images and PVs for these "movies" caught my attention even though I wasn't able to find out much during my initial search. Recently (as in two days prior to me typing this), chasing the UToob link for the PV turned up two long-ish video segments in the "Play Next" column on the page. Curious, I chased those links… and was able to watch both "episodes"/"movies"/"short films". As in both full short movies are available, with English subtitles. Just do a search for "SagaKouhouMovie" and check the "Videos" tab. You can find them at the bottom of the page.
Watching one made me want to watch the next. And then I wondered if that was all. Not necessarily in a Bad Way. And not to imply I found either unsatisfying or a waste of my time. So I did some more digging online.
If, like me, you're wondering if those two "shorts", neither more than 15 minutes, constitute the absolute entirety of "Sagaken wo Meguru Animation", the answer seems to be: "Yep. 'Fraid so."
Taken as a pair of promotional videos for a prefecture in Northwest Kyushu, these struck me as absolutely amazing.
Taken as a pair of animé shorts in general, they were… adequate. And definitely better than some things I've made myself sit through. (Definitely not "Totoro" or "Kiki", but what is…?)
Art, animation, and sound are all definitely at least as good as I've seen lately from broadcast animé, if not quite up to the standard I expect for big-budget, full-length features.
But let's get to the important aspects: Story and Characters.
Both shorts do a good job of featuring a distinctive aspect of the part of Saga Prefecture they're set in, but not in an overly intrusive way. They do provide a foundation the characters are built upon, though, so in that respect the pottery of Arita in one and… what I'm guessing is a famous camphor tree in Takeo play fairly significant roles in shaping the plots and characters both. Although, to be honest, the tree was notable but not nearly as important a part of the story as the pottery in the other. (They even used the name of an actual, famous pottery company.)
While ten to twelve minutes isn't much time to get a good idea of how well characters are written, and certainly not enough time for much of an arc, there was a bit of crossover between the two that I thought added a tiny bit more depth to the heroines of each piece. For the heroes of both, the writer(s?) seemed to be going for quiet strength and determination. Which is fine, I guess, but left me thinking "Again?" But the heroines were cute and offered some minor complexity. Especially in their interactions with the supporting characters.
Overall, I did enjoy watching both and wouldn't hesitate to watch them again.read more