Sep 6, 2013
Gazoinks (All reviews)
Legitimately one of my favorite anime, although really not for everyone.

The Diary of Tortov Roddle is a series of wonderful, beautiful, surreal, wordless (aside from text from Tortov's diary) shorts, starring the traveler Tortov Roddle and his strange long-legged pig mount and companion. There's not really a story to speak of; the series is essentially a series of short vignettes. Tortov goes somewhere, experiences something odd, and then moves on.

What somethings they are, though. The series is surreal, but unlike most uses of surrealism, it's not really symbolic. The surrealism doesn't represent the mind of a character, or the author's opinion of the Vietnam War, it's simply a weird, wondrous world that Tortov is exploring. The series has a very Japanese focus on fleeting moments. The events Tortov encounters aren't big, they're things like a fish jumping out of his coffee cup in a cafe, or watching a cartoon projected on the back of a bear, and once Tortov moves on, they're not mentioned again. This sense of transience, along with the quiet, contemplative nature of the series gives everything a slight feel of melancholy that adds a bit of weight to the wonder.

The art is gorgeous, and perfectly suits the series. It really doesn't look like your average anime, instead going for a painterly story book look that's really nice to look at, and suits the dream-like nature of the show. The use of color is also very well done, there's a lot of unified color palettes in the episodes to give things certain atmospheres. It really does feel like a moving story book at times.

The music is very nice. It has a kind of French feel, with liberal use of accordion. It's suitably whimsical, and again slightly sad. It doesn't feel particularly prominent, but it's not really meant to.

If you don't appreciate an effectively storyless series, or this sort of simplistic wonder, you probably won't like Tortov Roddle. If you do though, you'll probably find it wonderful.