Miss Puff’s Goldfish Bowl: Commercial or Existentialist Art?

A popular video currently being watched on the internet in China right now is the animated “Miss Puff’s Goldfish Bowl”, a philosophical art video made by a collective called “The Bright Eleven” and sponsored by Chevrolet. It tells the story of the eponymous Miss Puff, a modern-day Beijinger who admits to searching for true love, [spoiler] and yet when she accidentally encounters a man with ideal qualities who falls in love with her, she ultimately rejects him after a series of passionate encounters depicting implied nudity and public sex.  Although this man does everything possible to please Miss Puff including fulfilling her greatest spoken wish, it is still not enough to grant Miss Puff her happiness.

What at first seems nonsensical becomes an artistic statement when this video is treated as a existentialist work.  [spoiler] Miss Puff’s greatest wish is to keep a fish in its natural state forever; however, in reality she doesn’t want that but instead what it represents: her ideals that have over time become her illusions.  When the “bubble” finally bursts she then also rejects her boyfriend, the ideal man that she never asked for in the first place.  While it may be interpreted that Miss Puff is choosing to be unhappy, by looking at it from an existentialist’s world view we see that from making this her rational choice in an irrational world, Miss Puff is empowered by the ability to choose; put simply, she is “not choosing to be unhappy, but happy to be choosing.” And by rejecting a ideal man who is rich, caring and attentive and who has a car, a house and a good career it appears Miss Puff is not choosing the materialism and traditional ideals he represents.

[spoiler] By having her illusions destroyed, Miss Puff experiences absolute freedom but also horror and anguish in the void that remains.  What prevents this video from veering off into bleak nihilism is the video’s parting message of hope: “Actually, in this city many people are just like Miss [Puff], looking for true love, between possessing someone and being free of restraints.”  Also spoken at the end is “Miss Puff’s goldfish bowl is empty, waiting for love”; if this were to be examined from the point of view of existentialism, we see that Miss Puff has gotten rid of all external values in order to find the happiness that lay within; if true love does exist, she must first love herself, and for that her bowl must be empty.

A Chevrolet Cruze, the new model from the video’s corporate sponsor, can be seen throughout the video driven by the male character.  If the video is taken as a commercial to promote their new product, it can be seen that this car isn’t used in a positive fashion.  [spoiler] Rather, the Cruze is ignored when a police officer is ticketing it to show the man’s attention to Miss Puff; as well, the Cruze is used as a place where it is implied Miss Puff and the man have sex in public; also, the video advocates the use of public transit as shown in the scene where Miss Puff and the man have sex on the subway.

The short film (~18 minutes):

From PC Auto:

The Best Adult Erotic Animation In China: Miss Puff’s Goldfish Bowl

“To learn what kind of thing love is is to teach someone how to live and die under the consensual agreement of a love contract [ie to hand one’s fate over to whom you love].” [A passage from a poem by Yuan Haowen (aka Yuan Yishan)] It is believed that at present time there is already no one who would adopt these words as their own motto for love. That was one period of time, just as this is one perspective of romantic love. At the present time, even more people than before are likely asking: what is romantic love? How do the concepts of freedom and possession mutually exist in romantic love? How do we seize it? After watching “Miss Puff’s Goldfish Bowl”, I have found the solution!

Actually, in this city [Beijing] there are many people like Miss Puff who are caught somewhere  in-between freedom and possession and are searching for real love.

I’d like to say for once that genuine romantic love is just like how an ordinary woman would act: during times of loneliness, they will always believe that sometime and from somewhere he [an ideal man] will always appear.

Confronting an icy cold room, I hope that there is a fish inside my goldfish bowl.

By chance, she meets him, a [Chevrolet] Cruze driver.

This is fate, one little accident, bringing them slowly together.

For two single people, it appears to be easy to become a couple.

~This, you already understand. Falling in love like lightning.

This, you also already understand… this is what is convenient about having a car.

The goldfish, it swims freely. Can it always be like this, happily swimming, free and unrestrained?

While in love, you will discover that around you, there is only him, that in life, you will have already lost yourself, and that the freedom of romance has gradually disappeared.

As if to resemble oneself, this goldfish preserved in formalin [a clear solution of 40% formaldehyde that includes a small amount of methanol], is just like how I am right now.

Miss Puff’s goldfish bowl is empty waiting for love.

The content [of the video] is very daring, there are a lot of passionate scenes… even car shaking and subway shaking [the sex scenes]. However, after watching it, it generated a deep, sympathetic response in me. We are all searching for love, but all along we have forgotten the essence of love. Only when we are lonely do we see what is wonderful about love, yet when we have it we yearn for the freedom of being single. Fortunately, however, I still believe in the existence of love. It may be at waiting for me at the next street corner. Perhaps the many experiences we have had are all to prepare us for the next one. Opening QQ [a popular Chinese instant messaging service], double-clicking her avatar photo, I’ve begun my next act of searching [for love]. Just posting my feelings after watching “Miss Puff’s Goldfish Bowl”, so everybody go easy with the bricks [go easy on your criticism]~~ Also, did anyone notice that the main female character looks like [pop icon/singer] Faye Wong?

Comments from PC Auto:


Relations between men and women are apparently this way; this film is very realistic and I praise it!


Casual [relationships]~that move very quickly [towards sex] is too common.


The [Chevrolet] Cruze [car] became the most important part of this cartoon. [implying it is a commercial]


This cartoon is done pretty well, I like it.

Comments from Youku:


So Category III [an adult-only classification in Hong Kong] but so boring/pointless.


Quite well made; after watching it my heart felt saddened. I’ve heard the subway scene was Line 4.


I feel rather strange, I feel that it isn’t that realistic, that it is rather abstract, and also life isn’t so one-sided.


[This is] very representative of the white collar life: debaucherous, no goals, daydreaming, self-absorbed.


To be honest, I didn’t really get [the film]………..


This indeed was shot on location in Beijing… not bad, I can see the neighborhood of Guomao as well as the “Big Pants” building [CCTV Headquarters], just as I can see the area where my work is located.


This looks like a Category III film no matter how I look at it.


Very good [film].


Really not bad, the fusion of reality with animation is not bad, and the story is very good.


Clearly is a Chevrolet commercial~~~


Why is it I feel that Miss Puff’s appearance is very similar to [pop icon/singer] Faye Wong?


And I thought I was the only one who thought that [Miss Puff looked like Faye Wong], ha ha!


This animation is NB, the idea and mood very skillfully uses the technology…


Be like that living fish then! Don’t need a reason! Don’t need to greet [people]! Don’t have any possessions! No definitely destination! No worries! No looking back! Just have to leave behind two checks for swimming! If you have water, then swim!


Extremely disgusting.

Comments from Tudou:


When all is said and done, what is true love? This kind of feeling is completely lost. Today’s society has changed, people have changed, everything has changed.
I once pursued true love until I was left with nothing in the end, women are often realistic/practical.
Just like that sentence: “These topics are more suitable when discussed inside a BMW.” [inferring an infamous line said by model Ma Nuo on reality/dating show Fei Chang Wu Rao aka “If You Are The One” in English, in which she said “I’d rather be crying in a BMW than to be riding on the back of your bike laughing”]
A man who doesn’t have financial capital can’t find his own ideal of true love.
Unless you are that kind of person who is content to be ordinary, often those with dreams and ideals will long to find something even better.


I extremely like this kind of feeling.

Comments from Sina:

Anonymous User from Guangzhou, Guangdong:

The feeling is very good.

Anonymous User from Heze, Shandong:

A beautiful story and plot.

Anonymous User from Xi’an, Shanxi:

Exceptionally creative, and is well thought out.

Anonymous User from Yinchuan, Ningxia:

[The protagonists] look very similar to Faye Wong and her husband.

Comments from Flash 8:


I won’t comment on the artistry/technique,
but from the scenes to the story, it’s all greasy and oily.
I personally feel that greasy and oily colors applied to a dark story will necessarily result in a dirty color.
The impression it gave me was that it is not clean, and it turns out that was the case.


I feel that the imagery is very beautiful, the story very complicated, and the technique employed here is very original, even with a bit South Korean illustration style. If I may write honestly to the commenter before me, if you are going to state your opinion, you need to state your individual feelings first. Don’t improperly/recklessly criticize from your own perspective, [because] every story’s style is not the same. You can say [this is made by a] specialized department for making commercial advertisements but that is its most commercial portrayal. Don’t only accept traditional animation, that is just a foundation. The grease and the oil [you may see] is in pursuit of portraying life in the city. You can say Picasso’s art is good but can you say why it is good? Can you say in what way he is abstract? Don’t Baidu [a popular Chinese search engine] it, it’s just like that; I feel [this film is] very good, its various aspects all very satisfactory, and matches life in the city.

Your ideal man. chinaSMACK personals.


Written by terroir

Terroir is a gentle soul who doesn't enjoy sunsets but does like the company of those who do. He says no to Tia Carrera, yes to Bruce Lee, and walks the thin line between the top of a still, calm lake and below it, where it looks even calmer.