Along with Oujisan no Lamp, Tansuwarashi was the offering from the “Young Animator Training Project” that had substantial appeal for me. Ironically, while “Lamp” had a somewhat Production I.G. look to it, it was this short that was actually produced by them. The director – first-time, naturally – is Kazuya Kise, who has worked on an interesting range of projects from Rurouni Kenshin, and Evangelion to Blood: The Last Vampire.
As with “Lamp” this is a story that’s effective as a result of its simplicity and heart. Single call center worker Mamiko is given an old wardrobe her her mother. Turns out the wardrobe is possessed by some sort of Kami who exist to serve the female heads of the Mamiko Clan. Kami, hobs (the literal translation), youkai, underpants gnomes – whatever you want to call them, they’re cute little buggers – and they act as a sort of brood of kids for Mamiko while at the same time giving her life a makeover. One fellow is a wonderful cook, another a common-sense minded safety expert, one girl a makeup whiz and another something like an underaged mini-matron. Two of the sprites appear to be toddlers, and serve so function other than eating, causing mischief and looking adorable.
There’s no explanation for any of this, of course, but that’s fine – watching Mamiko interact with the magical bunch is quite enjoyable and the whole enterprise had an unpretentious charm to it. The animation is extremely simple and the character designs childishly basic, and the overall package doesn’t have the heft of Oujisan no Lamp – but it’s quite good nonetheless, and hard not to like.