Back in 2017, the Marui chain of department stores announced that they would begin investing in the anime industry. This has resulted in exclusive collaboration stores and events taking place within Marui. However, with their new anime connections, they have also worked with outside companies to produce their own animated short films.
For the last two years, they’ve worked together with Yokohama Animation Lab on a series of ads that follow a working woman evaluating the different parts of her life. Whilst these commercials don’t explicitly seem to be advertising Marui stores, they are part of an initiative to have ideas of “happiness” associated with Marui in consumers’ minds. This is the strategy yet again when Marui teamed up with Toho Animation to create an incredibly polished animated short film.
The short film is directed by Toshimaru Ishii who joined Mamoru Hosoda’s Mirai film as assistant director last year. The animation itself is produced at CG studio Orange with CG direction by studio founder Eiji Inomoto. Orange has gotten so competent at developing a style that combines 3D animation with 2D expressions that there are many shots in this short film that could be mistaken as being from a well-produced 2D anime.
As with most modern CG productions, it relies on motion capture to accurately depict human movement, but the staff has clearly worked to deliver that in a way that still seems fantastical to make it seem like the girl is gliding along the pavement. Multiple staff members on both Mirai and Land of the Lustrous contributed to this, like character designer Ayako Hata, who worked on Mirai as animation director, and background director Hisako Akagi who’d also directed the backgrounds for Land of the Lustrous.
This is all brought together with a great score by Liz and the Blue Bird composer Kensuke Ushio. The short film not only serves as an example of what Orange can achieve in 2019 but also the strength of short films as a medium in general. Maybe we might even be able to see more independent productions in the future that are able to find a market without corporate sponsors.