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AKA: 水のコトバ (Mizu no Kotoba)
Genre: Slice-of-life Featurette
Length: Web release, 9 minutes
Distributor: Currently available on crunchyroll.
Content Rating: G (Appropriate for All Ages, Though Geared Towards Adults)
Related Series: Time of Eve (Descendent Series)
Also Recommended: Time of Eve, Pale Cocoon, Daicon III and IV Opening Animations (To see anime greatness at a similar work-in-progress stage)
Notes: This was the first released work of director and screenwriter Yasuhiro Yoshiura, who is best known for creating Pale Cocoon and, most recently, Time of Eve. Elements from this film, which first aired on NHK in its "10-Minute Theater" slot, later resurfaced in those works.
Rating:
 

Aquatic Language

Synopsis

Several people are spending their evening in a cafe, including two gossiping girls, two debating men, a bookworm, and a boy who just broke up with his girlfriend. The cafe's waitress starts a chat with him, persuading him to take a look at certain easel, while other customers begin to make philosophical conversation and notice unusual occurences. (Adapted from ANN)

Review

It's always quite interesting for me to see where famous animators got their start. Makoto Shinkai, for example, began his career as a game designer, and Hayao Miyazaki was doing in-between animation at Toei years and years before the phrase "Studio Ghibli" was even thought of. The very first effort of director Yasuhiro Yoshiura was this vignette, and while it's a bit more of historical artifact akin to, say, Picasso's preliminary sketches than a full-fledged work, fans of his recent efforts will no doubt find it interesting as a stepping stone.

Aquatic Language, which is set in a cafe very similar to that seen in Time of Eve, doesn't really have much of a plot. It's simply one scene, broken up only slightly by a series of viewpoint shifts, in which the few, mostly nameless characters discuss such topics as gender dynamics, Isaac Asimov's three laws of robots, and even a fish framed in one of the cafe's pictures that one patron is convinced can move. The experience, in fact, is something like reading a rough draft, the kind in which the author throws down every conceivable idea with the plan of eventually removing what doesn't work and honing the rest. While there is one nifty surprise at the ending and a few amusing moments, it's not all that entertaining of a piece, and very little that we see is tied up properly or explored beyond the most basic questions. Those expecting a self-contained story, unfortunately, will most likely come away feeling disappointed.

That said, the groundwork on which Yoshiura has built his later successes is evident all over, down to the cafe setting, the color scheme, his trademark of using technical graphs as a plot device, the questions regarding the laws of robotics, and even a prototype of Nagi, Time of Eve's spunky barista. Thus, if you're at all interested in seeing how his style came to be as it was, I would highly recommend this little prototype As it stands, it's unpolished: the animation is crude and nowhere near as smooth as his later efforts, there's very little narrative resolution, and the short, really, doesn't maintain much of a storyline besides a general theme of language and communication. If treated as a final work, it's unsatisfying; if treated as a work-in-progress, however, it proves to be quite illuminating.

To make an analogy, Aquatic Language is to Yasuhiro Yoshiura as The Adventures of Andre and Wally B is to Pixar's animators. Each master's acclaimed career began with a single, shaky step, one that, in hindsight, may seem comparatively unrefined. And yet that step is still essential to understanding every bit of the greatness they've achieved since then.

Not that interesting taken on its own terms, but quite fascinating as a starting point. Those who aren't fans of Yoshiura's later work probably shouldn't bother.Nick Browne

Recommended Audience: Nothing objectionable here, although it's not really the sort of thing children will enjoy.



Version(s) Viewed: Stream courtesy of crunchyroll.com
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Aquatic Language © 2002 Studio Rikka/Yasuhiro Yoshiura