by Eric Evans
Perhaps the success of "Departures" at the Academy Awards was no fluke. At the International Emmy Awards held Monday November 23rd, the NHK animated series based on Hoshi Shinichi's "Short Shorts" took home the trophy for best comedy. Hoshi (1926-1997) was a novelist and short-story writer known for what he termed "short-short" stories, tales no longer than 4 pages. Typically science-fiction stories with a dark comic touch, a few of these short-shorts have been adapted into animated vignettes in various styles: stop-motion animation, traditional anime, CG, whatever technique best served the story at hand. The result is a wonderful variety of work connected by the sardonic tone of the source material. That his work has been adapted to animation is particularly fitting given that Hoshi was friends with manga/anime giant Osamu Tezuka, who named a character Hoshi in his 1967 series "Amazing 3." There's no shortage of source material for more of these films going forward, as Hoshi wrote more than 1,000 of his short shorts.
Many of the short animated films have appeared in subtitled versions on stations outside Japan, and are available on YouTube. Searches for "short short" and "Hoshi Shinichi" yield plenty of results. Below is a 3-minute entry titled "Kon" while more can be found here, here, and here.