Japanese Animated Short Film Wins Oscar

"Tsumiki no Ie" (House of Blocks) caught even its director by surprise when it won the Short Film (Animated) Oscar last Sunday at the 81st annual Academy Awards. The 12-minute animated short  film by director, creator and now Oscar winner Kunio Kato had already won a slew of awards over the past year but the gleaming gold Oscar award statue, Kunio's first, was the icing on the cake.

Now I'm not a fan of the Oscars or award shows in general, but they do have one very important purpose: shining the spotlight on good, un-publicized films. Box-office blockbusters don't need the extra attention but previously unknown Oscar nominated movies need all the help they can get.

Kunio's acceptance speech made while hoisting his Oscar says it all: "So heavy. Thank you very much. Thank you, my supporters. Thank you, all my staff. Thank you, my producer. Thank you, Academy. Thank you, animation. Thank you my company, Robot. Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto!"

"Tsumiki no Ie" features an old man whose house is constantly threatened by the rising water that surrounds it - a consequence of global warming. To keep the house above sea level, the old man must carefully add stone blocks to the house's foundation. Who will finally triumph, the old man or the sea?



It's the visual style of "Tsumiki no Ie" that stands out, however. Those accustomed to typical Japanese animation art images of big-eyed girls and transforming robots are in for an attitude adjustment.

Kunio's 2-dimensional amimation style takes an about-face from the expected, instead using soft tones and subtle movement to bring his characters - and ultimately our hearts - to vibrant life. (via Robot Communications)