The Curator of Schlock #377 by Jeff Shuster

Short Peace

Don’t ask about the title.

I had collapsed in shock after witnessing a security guard get mauled to death by Tasmanian devils while trapped in a cage with a female kangaroo named Edwige. The devils ignored us, choosing to go after the other factory workers in the distance. Maybe it was a kinship toward Edwige and the other marsupials in this slaughterhouse for black market meats. Hours later, a team of soldiers led by Larry, a secret agent of the Canadian government bearing a striking resemblance to Don Knots, freed Edwige and myself from our cage. — To be continued.

This week’s anime extravaganza is 2013’s Short Peace, another animated anthology of short films from directors Koji Morimoto, Shuhei Morita, Katsuhiro Otomo, Hiroaki Ando, and Hajime Katoki. One of these shorts, Possessions, was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short. The movie begins with a little girl following a rabbit into a chamber filled with wondrous delights that serves as a hub for the different worlds that await the audience.

The first short is the aforementioned Possessions. It begins in old Japan. A traveler  caught in a forest during a raging storm. He enters a shrine to escape the rain, apologizes to whichever spirits reside on the sacred ground. Before he knows it, he’s in a room surrounded by fancy umbrellas, all complaining about their state of decay. The traveler marvels at their craftsmanship and proceeds to repair them with materials made available to him. He repairs garments as well, but then requests that the spirits let him out, but the spirits of the abandoned items turn violent. Will he survive the night?

The next short is titled Combustible, and as you can tell from the title, it’s about fire. The short begins with an illustrated scroll rolling out. The images spring to life and we get a tale of a bride wanting a man other than her betrothed. She’s in love with a member of the town’s fire brigade. In her despair, she accidentally starts a fire, infighting her home and the entire neighborhood.

The third short is Gambo, a tale of a bear and an ogre. The short begins with a defeated samurai asking the big, white bear Gambo if he’s a messenger from God or something to that effect. In a nearby village, a giant red ogre with a twisted face and sharp horns attacks the villagers and makes off with one of the young maidens to impregnate her with his devil spawn. Later, Gambo meets the daughter of the emperor who conveys her despair and gets him to destroy the ogre’s lair. A brutal fight between bear and ogre ensues. The samurai from the beginning of the film rushed to Gambo’s aid.

The final short is titled A Farewell to Weapons and is about a group of scavengers looking for valuables in an abandoned city after a future World War. An artificially intelligent super tank wakes up and gives chase. Realizing how deadly this weapon is, the men vow to destroy it. And that about sums up Short Peace. I liked how some of the shorts were cel animated while others incorporated CG into the traditional look of cel animation. For fans of animated anthologies, this one is not to be missed.

Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, episode 477, episode 491, episode 492, episode 493, episode 495, and episode 496) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.