July 26, 2006

DAMEKKO DOUBUTSU (2005) Useless Animals - nutty anime

(2005, TV anime, Japan, "Useless Animals")
26 x 5 minute episodes

A strange, slapstick series of very short stories with a catchy theme tune.

These tales are simple, but I'm still fathoming out the premise! "Useless Animals" are people dressed as animals living in the forest, I think. Also I'm not sure whether they are adults or children. Sometimes they have grown-up, realistic faces, sometimes child-like. Each character is a different animal - there's a wolf who loves an accident-prone leopard. There's a grumpy chain-smoking rabbit, a short-sighted owl, and two brothers - a strange, effete unicorn and a shy "pegasus" (a flying horse).

They all think that they're animals, but walk around like people in costumes. As usual, part of the fun is figuring out what's going on, but the stories are concerned with how they all get along. The especially useless wolf usually tries to chat up the leopard, fails, and exhausts the patience of the rabbit. He then gets kicked over the horizon - in one spectacularly animated shot, we see his point of view as he flies a high arc over the forest!

Original, funny and infectious. Whatever next?

Episode one is on YouTube with English subtitles.

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