From the creator of Popee the Performer was all I needed to know about Mr. Stain on Junk Alley to give it a shot. The more time passes, the more I realise how truly original, inspired and deeply traumatising Popee was. Mr. Stain has a lot of the same stylistic choices. It’s entirely CG animated with rather creepy shiny faced character models. There’s no spoken dialogue, with only the odd musical cue and recycled sound bites used. Each episode is only 5 minutes long and features some truly bizarre imagery. The big difference between the two is while Popee is about the darker side of
humanity with jealousy, sadism and hatred, Mr. Stain is about compassion and love, albeit sometimes a rather creepy desperate form of love involving paintings and flowers.
The story is about Stain, a homeless dude living in an alleyway full of rubbish and follows his escapades as he rifles through the seemingly endless piles of junk to find strange artefacts. As a general rule, the weirder the item Stain finds, the better the episode will turn out, which isn’t as often as I would like it. A big part of this comes from the animation not really working if you’re not going to go properly surreal. The characters look vaguely nightmarish with their bug-eyes and unreal movements, which is used intentionally in Popee to make you feel uneasy while Stain tries to tug on your heartstrings. While Stain’s grasp on reality is loose at best, unless it goes truly bizarre the episode rarely leaves much of an impact.
When it does go truly strange though, it works magnificently. I prefer the idea that Stain doesn’t actually have any of the adventures the episodes show him having. He’ll find a dead bird and them in his hunger-driven state will concoct a story involving him tending to this bird’s ailments and building it a shelter. When taking this in mind, the formula works better when some of the darker desires of Stain comes through in the stories. My personal favourite was the one where he grew his own plant lady and spent their nights dancing on the rooftop as aliens flew in overhead and blew up the city. Or where sentient clay takes over the body of his cat and now Stain has a friend in the same shape as himself. These reflect his desires for romance but seen through his equally strong desire for some form of life and green in his dingy alley, or alternatively his desire for friendship but with someone much like himself instead of with his cat.
Mr Stain 2As I said before though, Stain is not nearly weird enough. Apart from one truly strange scene involving a black hole forming in the centre of a cat’s face, the show never made me truly pull a 0_0 face while Popee managed this reaction at least once per episode, usually more. They’re obviously different types of shows. Popee uses the weirdness for dark comedy, while Mr. Stain uses it to show the main character’s compassion. But the weirder it got, the more impactful the compassion through this bizarre view of the world became. It could have been even better than Popee because Stain has heart that does manage to get to you. Well OK, Popee has heart too, but it’s a blackened dead heart while Stain gives you feels.
That said, this director still has a great grasp of storytelling, and there’s a huge amount of imagination on show. The voiceless characters means they over-exagurate everything, but what’s great is how it shows emotion in the non-human characters. The glove that’s trying to rescue the lost little girl, or the robot who just wants people to dance with him. It’s that same Pixar style of emotion through non-human characters that makes it work, even when the character is a flower with very long attractive legs that is merely the concoction of a homeless man’s longing sex-drive mixed deliriously with his gardening hobby. I did enjoy the show quite a bit, and it’s certainly an easier starting point to this man’s style than Popee is, which is like introducing you to swimming by throwing you into the mouth of a basking shark. It’s very short and I would recommend you give it a shot, especially as preparation for the true masterpiece that is Popee.
Mr. Stain on Junk Alley consists of 14 stand-alone episodes that each tell a short story entirely through action. Each story generally revolves something that Stain finds in the said junk alley and how it affects everyone within the junk alley. The stories are all told clearly and are quite inventive and fun to watch play out.
Art will most likely be a love it or hate it relationship as it is entirely in CGI. The CGI is clear and the series knows exactly what it wants to do with it's graphics, but sometimes they also come off as a tad creepy (particularly in the final
episode). The animation is completely smooth and clean however, always a plus. It doesn't have tons of detail like we've come to expect from movies like Shrek, but it didn't bite off more than it could chew either. There is some god-awful CGI out there, luckily, this clearly avoids that category. Sound fits and there's not too much in the way of music, but nothing feels out of place for the sake of having pretty music, it all fits the tone of the series pretty well. There isn't any voice acting except for occasional laughs or other basic noises so there's not much to critique there. For the series it works well, but it's nothing special either and it certainly wouldn't work so well elsewhere.
Mr. Stain is not a series afraid of injuring its own characters and it does so quite often in a mix of slapstick and entirely deserved pitch black humor. In some cases, you do feel a little bad for the characters when they've been injured a little too much or for unfair reasons. In fact, the presence of the pitch black humor added to my enjoyment, as it is one of my favorite types of humor. Mr. Stain is not a series that takes itself too seriously and spends its time trying to shove preachy lessons in your face, it's there for entertainment. It's a short if not completely fun series that doesn't overstay its welcome by being far too long either. The enjoyment value is quite high if you know what to expect (which is not a long string of anvils falling on head comedy). Mr. Stain has its touching moments and uses them quite well, it actually hits a good mix between comedy and making you curious about what will happen to the plot and characters, more so than you'd initially expect. One episode honestly almost had me to tears, so it has a little bit of everything.
If you want something short, sweet, and completely off the beaten path, consider checking it out. It's on hulu
Wow is all i have to say, never would i have thought fourteen episodes of 7 minutes in length could be so enjoyable. It tells the story of Stain a man who lives like a homeless man and each episode he finds a different unique item in the pile of junk in the alley. Anything can happen from magic crayons that bring drawings into reality to robots that want to fly. The creator really did do a good job in making each unique object into something that can tell a story because you never know what will happen.
The show itself can be rather violent, pretty
much every episode feature Stain being hurt in some way giving him various bruises and cuts and there is always blood, this is a touch that might make you go 'what the fuck' because you simply don't expect it to happen in this type of show, granted you get used to it, but it all adds to the uniqueness that makes it all the more enjoyable.
It's created solely in CG but all the characters are cartoonified so they don't look too realistic but it does make the show quirky and the CG allows for great animation. What will become apparent is it seems the creators like dancing, there is a lot of dancing whether its just the ending credits or part of the episode, the dances are pretty cool and funky and the music that accompanied the credits is brilliant and catchy.
Stain lives in a room but its not a house, im not really shore what it is and lives off eating doh nuts or what ever he kills, he also falls in love multiple times throughout the series with various things, a painting, a flower, a real girl, he gives off that feeling that makes you want to see him succeed in anything he does as he gets the short end of the stick a rather lot. Palvan is a cat, i think, he also likes doh nuts and is the most seen recurring side character and often helps Stain with whatever. Other characters barely make appearances unless its an episode they only feature in, then they are likely to get plenty of screen time. Masked Monkey a masked monkey, Rings a lizard thing, they're all weird.
Fourteen episodes seven minutes long with a 30 minute finale you can hardly find better time, this show should be enjoyed for its daring uniqueness and its lovable characters. Oh and there is not a single word spoken in the shows entirety, don't let this put you off because it simply doesn't need words, that how well it tells each story. It is a comedy but a dark one as its jokes come from its characters suffering with amusing injuries. You can never guess what's going to happen next or what Stain will find.