Anime Review: Rain Town

Anime Review:
Rain Town

What this is about: Watching all of the anime shows so you don’t have to! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.

Series Premise: Rain Town is a nine-minute long short film produced by Hiroyasu Ishida, who spent two years working on it as part of his graduation project at Kyoto Seika University. In a town where it never stops raining, a young girl befriends a robot, and she reminds it of another girl from long ago. The wordless video has been available on the web since March 2011.

Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:

ep. tl;dr review: Lots and lots and lots of rain; little girl finds a robot.

Spoiler-free set-up: An old lady rests quietly in her home full of mementos, including a metal disk on a table that sprouts a pair of eyes. The scene then flashes back to when she was just a little child heading outside into the neverending rain, splashing around town in her bright yellow raincoat. Along the way, she meets up with a spindly-legged robot on a bench and she quickly befriends him. For the robot, the little girl reminds it of another little girl from long ago when the sky was bright, who left the town a long time past.

My Impressions: I am supposed to love this. Apparently everyone else online loves this. It has earned great praise and even won awards. Therefore, by extension, I should love this, right?

And yet, I don’t find it very interesting at all. This is entirely a mood piece, trying to convey a feeling through the slow, plaintive piano background music and the somber, sullen blue backgrounds. With a slow, leisurely pace, this short animated feature paints the town in near monochrome shades of deep blue, expressing a feeling of sadness and loss, inactivity and suppression.

…And that’s pretty much all it’s got. Sure, it may be achingly beautiful. But as far as any semblance of story goes, there’s nothing there. Girl meets robot. Robot breaks. Uh, the end?

This animator’s sophomore effort (he also won praise for his first short, the slapstick Fumiko’s Confession) certainly has the chops to lay down some mean visual work. But pretty pictures don’t really mean much unless they exist to convey a message or a story. Otherwise, they are nothing more than pretty pictures.

Ishida has established himself as someone to keep an eye on for the future (and given the notable dearth of fresh talent out there, that’s a good thing), but taking this as a single, stand-alone work is a bit lacking. This may have been nothing more than a graduation project to show his talent, but I hopes he chooses to actually use his skills to tell a comprehensible story next time.

The verdict: – Yes, I am fully aware I am going against the grain of virtually every other opinion on this. Call me crazy.

For more information:

Sampling of Online Reviews:

  • “Despite its length, Rain Town is an amazing piece of cinema that delivers more than many films that run 90-minutes are able to.” – Strange Kids Club
  • “I have become a big fan of his not only because of his work or drawing talent and style, but because of his openness with his creation process.” – Hard Door
  • “The animation of the rain and puddles of water is simply amazing, and I have no doubt this is what he spent the most time on. Not only is he a master animator, he also knows how to tell a heart-warming story with just visuals, soft music, and ambient sounds. If Makoto Shinkai was “the next Hayao Miyazaki”, Hiroyasu Ishida is “the next Makoto Shinkai”.” – The Visual Medium

Miscellaneous Odds and Ends from 2010 left to review: Gag Manga Biyori+, Eden of the East Movie: Paradise Lost, Hana Kappa, Crayon Shin-chan Movie 18, Ashiaraiyashiki no Junin-tachi, Kakko-kawaii Sengen, Shokupan Mimi, Mardock Scramble, Bleach: Hell Verse Movie, Votoms: Case;Irvine, Votoms: Finder, Pokemon: Best Wishes, Heartcatch Precure Movie

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