By Daniel Baysa
Chalk Campus Correspondent
When we look at films and TV shows today that rely on exposition dumps or great speeches, it’s rather ironic to consider that when the film industry began, speaking was impossible. Old cartoons and silent films had to rely on nothing but music, character expressions, and motion to tell a story. And with the rise of hype culture and the use of famous voice actors and stars to sell a film, the silent film isn’t in the mainstream anymore.
The independent scene on the other hand flourishes with it. Looking for any way to save money and increase their artistic credentials, some indie animators choose to forgo as much voice acting as possible and rely on their animations to speak for themselves, leading to unique and materful animated pieces. Here are six that will blow your mind without talking your ears off.
1. Wishgranter (2016)
Ever wondered how wishing fountains grant our wishes? Wishgranter is here to do just that. Here, wishing fountains are run by underground gnomes that maintain wish-granting machines under fountains once people throw coins. Hilarity ensues when a boy and a girl both seeking love clog up the magic pipes, forcing the gnome to interfere personally. With gorgeous 3D animation of an ethereal night and clever, funny scenarios, Wishgranter is a beautiful, funny short.
2. Monsterbox (2012)
A bright, warm and fluffy little short, Monsterbox tells the story of a little girl who visits an old man to get houses for her pets, with the catch being her pets are all monsters. The story isn’t anything deep, but it’s adorable without a doubt. It’s also the most colorful, with jaw-dropping visuals on par with big-screen works. Anytime you need your daily dose of cuteness, have a look at Monsterbox.
3. Draw With Me (2009)
There have been many romances that all dealt with using signs. Whether drawing them on boards or walls, communicating by drawing and writing is an old romantic trope. It becomes less fun if that’s your only way of talking. Draw With Me has two animals, a boy and a girl, stuck on opposite sides of a glass wall. They can’t cross over or talk to each other, but at least they can write. You can finish the entire thing in less time than it takes to read this list, so I won’t say anymore, but its brevity doesn’t make it any less beautiful.
4. Mystery Skulls Animated: Ghost (2014)
When real-life band Mystery Skulls saw a fan animate a music video for one of their songs, the band decided to hire him to make another. So was born this dark homage to Scooby Doo. The tropes are all there: teenage investigators and their unusually smart and ravenous dog take a look at a haunted mansion in search of ghosts, with all the funny antics that Scooby Doo is known for. If you think you know how this will end though, that's just what the story wants you to think, and the twists lead to a masterful ending. It’s amazing how much detail is put into this animation, with little hints towards the story hidden in the background and matching up with the funky music perfectly. With a huge fandom created just from two different episodes, Mystery Skulls Animated is an example of why you should cherish your fans.
5. Song of Rain (2017)
This is one animation for when you want to get hit in the feels. Song of Rain chronicles the lifelong romance of a couple in China. Things go rather badly when the boy enlists as a soldier in World War 2. Based on a true story in China that happened over 80 years ago, Song of Rain has mesmerizing animation and equally captivating music, but both only emphasize the heart-rending story they portray. If you want something heavier and sadder than your usual fare, take a look at Song of Rain.
6. There She Is! (2004 Orig./2017 Remastered HD)
Hailing from before the days of YouTube and yet still regarded as one of the best web animations ever created, There She Is! is a piece of internet history. It’s a story of a peppy bunny that falls in love with a cat in a society where that’s forbidden. The animation is simple 2D, and the five “Steps” all together take less time than an average anime episode, but they’re five episodes set to K-pop hits of the day, and go from adorable to tragic to triumphantly awesome. With the creators having remastered in HD with English subtitles for the songs, and a sixth Step coming up a decade since the series ended, there’s no better time to watch There She Is!
These films show that good animation doesn’t just come about from big budgets. It came from a few individuals who were creative, resourceful and passionate. If you want to add a few more to the list, comment on them down below!
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