Apr 19, 2015
For a ten minute long short, this really packs a punch. Right to the gut. By punch I mean a stab and by gut I mean your heart. Really. It still hurts when I think about this.

It starts off simply enough. Two abandoned robot boys and a surly professor who has taken them in. 'What is love?' Haru asks. Immediately the phrase 'baby don't hurt me...don't hurt more' pops into your head.

Goodness how you wish that came true and that this OVA did not totally destroy you in the most painful way possible.

It's a common enough premise for a story, an AI who wants to feel love and be a human (see: Pinocchio). But usually, it's as Haru says; robots who want to feel love and happiness. But what about Natsu? Yamamoto tackles the negative emotions that accompany the loneliness and futility of human emotions by having Natsu. Natsu does not ask what love is. Instead he is held down by negative emotions. It's a stark realisation; would robots in these stories want to become human because of all of these negative emotions?

It's at the end that we receive our answer, and at that point would also be nice to receive a bucket of ice cream and a kitten to soothe the pain.

It's at the end that Haru realises what love is. It's then when Natsu realises that not all emotions are bad, and that Haru and Masa are worth the pain that he has suffered both emotionally and physically.

Haru's childlike naivety grated on me until the climax of the animation. That's the only thing I would mark down on, really. There was no real character development/heavy insight into their pasts, and Masa still remains a mystery, but seeing as it's a ten minute short, I'm willing to overlook this. However, Haru's naivety was what got me the most. His realisation at the end of the film of what love is to him; simple, comfortable, happiness, and the way that he simply states it caused something to well up in my from the inside and spill out of my eyes in the form of tears and from my mouth in the form of a sound more akin to a dying whale.

The art was beautiful, as usual from Soubi Yamamoto. As one of her earlier works, her proportions are still a bit skewed, and angles too sharp, but she retains her charming style of art and quirky animation through the captions littered across the short and patterns and real life photography contrasting with the exaggerated cartoon motion.

When I speak about the track played at the end of the short, I have to speak about that scene. All of that scene.

The music played is a quiet and slow piano piece, a simple arrangement of chords which lets the dialogue between Haru and Natsu shine through. The piece maintains its quiet melancholy even through the violent event that rips through the climax of the short, and maintains it still through choked out sobs and a simple realisation of what love is. When it started playing, it really did sound like a finality. Haru and Natsu, lit by the sun, walking hand-in-hand and that track emphasises their comfortable happiness that they share in that moment. Haru grieving, that track just emphasises his loss and his emotion. And finally, with the appearance of Masa, the notion of a 'home' and the realisation of love; a bittersweet relief that their search for the meaning of love had ended.

At the end, I did not cry from grief. I cried from happiness that finally, two cruelly abandoned robots had a loving home. From the happiness that at last, they knew the despair and joy of human emotion.

Perhaps you watch it, fully invested in this fictional world, but it will hit you. Seeing what were two empty shells filled up with human emotions when they were not programmed to do so did something to me.

You finish watching and you ask yourself; 'what is love?'

The entire short was a reminder of being human. Of feeling. And that's what I love about Yamamoto's scriptwriting. Her take on the human condition and the philosophies adopted by her characters is thought provoking and touching, and you'll find yourself thinking about that question long after you have watched this short.

'What is love?' you think.

Thinking about it makes you cry more, so you quickly abandon the thought in favour of a family sized bucket of ice-cream and a blanket in an attempt to stop your tears.
Reviewer’s Rating: 9
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