Well since there has yet to have been a review written about this I guess I'll take a shot at it.
all three of the stories are written by one of the most lauded horror writers of all time, H.P Lovecraft. So the stories are automatically good, well the source material is atleast. As a result of the very, very, VERY limited animation it makes it hard sometimes to follow the story, and for someone who has never read anything by Lovecraft it may not be very enjoyable. I give the story 9/10 because they are based off of masterpieces (though I may be biased)
really enjoyed the handmade characters and sets. It's obvious the creators put a lot of effort into making the animation have a unique feel to it that contributes to Lovecraft's eerie source material. On the other hand the animation is terrible. Characters rarely move and when they do it sometimes plays out like a slide show. The majority of anything consisting of movement is just the camera panning or looking at things from a different angle. This made it really hard for me to enjoy because it was barely an animation. I give the art 9/10 and the animation 2/10
It's accompanied by a nice creepy almost ambient soundtrack consisting of a lot of acoustic guitar, this fits the art style quite well, though it's nothing special. The voice acting (what little there is) is actually surprisingly well done. I give the sound 7/10
If your a fan of Lovecraft and can look past the crappy animation it has several redeeming qualities, plus if you enjoy art specifically sculpture and stuff like that you may enjoy the art. If you are really into well done animation and have never read Lovecraft this may not be something you'll enjoy (though you really should read some of his stuff, it's fucking awesome)
Back in 2007 Toei animation decided to make a short OVA based on some short stories by well known racist Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Lovecraftian horror is quite tricky to pull off. Simply because so much of it relies on stoking the audience's imagination and adaptations usually make the mistake of showing too much of the ancient ones and other Stygian creatures. Let's see how Toei handled it.
There are three short Lovecraft stories in the OVA. We start with The Picture in the House, move to Dunwich and end with The Festival. If you're familiar with Lovecraft's work, you know what kind of content to expect.
big narrative problem this has, and first major stumbling block it faces as an adaptation, is that the pacing is a bit shite. Good horror needs quiet, slower moments to build up suspense and get the viewer tensed. The problem with the slow moments in this is that so many of them are outright full stops while we pan over a still image. That doesn't build tension, it derails the situation and bores you.
To their credit, the pacing aside, they do a decent job of adapting the scripts of the short stories. They're pretty close to faithful and will likely satisfy those fans of Lovecraftian horror.
The characters don't have any real complexity to them. The ones who are meant to be unsettling pull that off well enough. But the ones we're supposed to root for and identify with, we really don't have any reason to care about. They're just a bit boring.
This is the second major issue with this as an adaptation. The art style does not lend itself well to horror. The OVA looks like it has less of a budget and cheaper claymation than an old Gumby cartoon. And it doesn't help that Gumby also looks more like an Eldritch abomination than anything you see in this OVA. And I'm not just saying that as a joke. That's the trouble with clearly showing the creatures in Lovecraftian horror. When you see a very vague, unsettling description of the Dunwich Horror, it works. When you see a mess of walking squid ink spaghetti, it just looks silly.
The acting in this is passable. It's not good, but it's not bad either. The music is the same. It's a bit generic for horror music, but it's functional enough.
There isn't any to be sad. The characters barely have relationships to begin with, much less well enough developed relationships for that.
Areas of Improvement:
Build up the suspense properly. Don't pause and derail the plot to pan over your clay landscape.
Don't show your monsters. Take a lesson from Lovecraft in this matter. Show enough to give the idea of the monster and let your audience's imagination do the rest. Trust me, we will come up with something way more frightening than your spaghetti monster.
Do not use Claymation. There are things claymation works for. Horror is not one of them. The models and environments just look too much like a child's panorama art project.
This OVA has three fatal flaws. The first is the long pauses that derail the suspense. The second is that it shows its Lovecraftian monsters in great detail. The third is the claymation art style. I can't say it's bad, but you'd be much better off reading these stories. I'll give it a 4/10.
I've decided to review this since there seems to be only one other review for it on MAL and I have some time on my hands after watching this. But this is my first MAL review so beware!
The first and most crucial thing to note when reviewing this, is that it is definately not an anime in the conventional sense, to quote:
"This is a collection of 3 stories from the influential horror author, H.P. Lovecraft, namely 'The Dunwich Horror', 'The Picture in the House' and 'The Festival'. Done in claymation, and directed by Ryo Shinagawa as part of the Ga-nime series.
Ga-nime (画ニメ, Ga-nime?), a portmanteau
of "illustration" (画, ga?) and "anime", is a relatively recent trend in Japanese animation to create highly aesthetic short anime films using non-traditional animation techniques, often directed by artists who have limited involvement with the anime industry."
"Highly aesthetic" is correct, the claymation alone is highly unsettling, it is crude, awkward and ugly but absoloutely appropriate to the tone and atmosphere of lovecrafts stories.
The claymation in combination with the haunting background music and unsettling narrative styles together create an experience that is as creepy and horrifiying as the source material.
However, one of the few criticisms I have with this is that the claymation, although stylistically appropriate, can sometimes look noticeably cheap and almost like something that came out of a childs science fair diorama, although this was only noticeable for me in the second part of the second segment, and usually only came about with a significant lighting or angle change.
Another criticism is that there is ocassionally a sustained lack of any sort of dialogue, leaving the viewer to piece together the story only through the provided imagery, which does make the unfolding onscreen horrors more potent, but can also make it more difficult to understand what's happening, especially if you don't happen to be familiar with the source materials. However, the music used was haunting and again, very appropriate to the stories and atmosphere.
Overall, this genuinely creeped me out, there were a couple of moments where I got goosebumps or shivered. However I am somewhat interested in lovecraft and as such had some idea of what I was getting myself into.
I would recommend that unless you have some sort of interest or rudimentary knowledge of lovecraft, or happen to be interested in creepy little claymation showcases you give this a miss. If you're unsure either way it is very short and in three segments, the first segment is only a couple of minutes long and how you find that should tell you how you'll find the rest of the OVA, love it or hate it.
This short film is a collection of three stories written by the infamous H. P. Lovecraft who is considered to be the founder of modern horror. Even though this film is not done in the way we know anime to be made, Toei Animation managed to pull off a decent film using a very experimental form of stop animation that somehow fits the tone of Lovecraft's work.
The designs for the puppets strangely reminded me of Tim Burton's adaptation of the Roald Dahl children's book, James And The Giant Peach (minus the live action aspect). So, if you happen to be a fan of that movie
and you enjoy reading Lovecraft, then I have no doubt that one will enjoy this film.
People who have not read any of Lovecraft's work and have not heard of him probably won't enjoy this. But, the way the movie is directed and the way the puppets are positioned in most of the shots should be able to follow what is going on in the story, even if they haven't read any of them.
The music is calm and pleasant with an eerie edge to it which makes the viewer feel as if there is something not right with the world and the characters. Though the music usually becomes really dark towards the end of each story.
There is little to say about the voice acting since there is not much dialogue (especially in the third story). The first story only has one of the characters speaking to the silent protagonist while the second story is narrated by one of the three protagonists from the Dunwich Horror story. The final story, The Festival, only has narration for the intro before becoming a fairly silent film with just the sound effects and music. But, since I could not find any information as to who were the voice actors, all I can say is that that they did an okay job and they seemed to be having fun while making creepy and insane voices.
In conclusion, this movie is definitely not for everyone. If you really want to check this movie out then I recommend reading the three stories that make up this film, plus some of his more popular stories including The Call Of Cthulhu and The Rats In The Walls before watching this. Otherwise, if you prefer anime in the conventional sense, rather skip this.