Ojii-san no Lamp – Young Animator Traning Project

I’m very late to the party on this, but I wanted to post a quick review of Oji-san no Lamp. It was part of the “Young Animator Training Project, an interesting exercise sponsored by the Japan Animation Creation Association. They put up about $2.25 million for four animators to get the chance to direct a feature. This was my favorite of the lot, from Telecom Animation and director Teichi Takiguchi.

This is a fairly simple story, a look at the evolution of technology in pre-war Japan. It starts with a young boy finding an old oil lamp in his grandfather’s house, and this leads to a reminiscence from the old man about his youth as an orphan, 50+ years earlier – at a time when the oil lamp (never mind electric lighting) was a startling innovation. It follows his life through hardscrabble youth, entrepreneurial success as a lamp salesman, and struggle in the face of technology.

That may not sound too exciting, but the story is told in a lovely, relaxed style. There’s a sense of nostalgia and sadness, and some truly beautiful backgrounds of life in rural Japan through simpler times. I respect simple, heartfelt storytelling and you get it in spades, here, along with some nice visuals – the look is a kind of (very) poor man’s Seirei no Moribito. This is well worth 24 minutes of your time.

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