Water Brain: Monsters, Runny Noses, & Paper Airplanes

Comments from KDS:

I watched the domestic film “Water Brain” and cried, it is 100 times better than McDull

Amongst Japanese cartoons, the one I like the most is Hayao Miyazaki

Recently I saw this domestic short film “Water Brain”…and suddenly discovered that it is favorably comparable to Miyazaki…I did not know our highest level of Chinese cartoons and animation were this close to Japan…

Here is a high quality version:

Comments from KDS:

疯癫世间行:

The style is very good!

哈打八打:

It resonated with me, not like McDull which requires you to be a Hong Kong person to completely understand.

哈打八打:

To speak truthfully, Miyazaki’s impression/impact is stronger, but it is still very good.
I saw my own childhood.
When that child with the hanging mucus threw the airplane in the middle of all those heavy backpacks, I thought of William Wallace screaming “Freedom!”

红烧狼:

The style emulates Miyazaki.
And what more, the self-expression is too strange. It may even seem immature.
Experimental work.

It is okay.

哈打八打:

This was a student’s graduation work. It is very praiseworthy as it is.

Japan is indeed the best.

Within China there are many companies that outsource animation to Japan, do you not know?…Making something is one thing, creating something is another, and commercialization is even more another thing.

哈打八打:

When I saw that child strapped on that monster (book bag, backpack) and hobble along, tears really came out…MD, back then, my book bag was also that heavy…

Again and again.

Dreams?

Once I did not care if I have them, did not care if I did not.

Today’s dreams, even if I can realize them, I feel I do no thave the ability to protect them~

胡子小鸡:

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Amongst the domestic films at present, this is absolutely a work of the highest level, whether it is the composition, characters, art. It is so many times better than any average domestic animation/cartoon!

Comments from Youku:

随风F:

We must believe in the power of dreams.

scanjojo:

The cartoon was done really well~~~ Those CCTV-broadcasted garbage cartoons cannot even compare.
The musical score was exceedingly good~~~
I hope these paper airplanes that bear our dreams can fly further and further…

无主之影:

If this is really an original domestic creation, then China’s animation has hope. 赞赞赞

walestalon:

Is this really from Guangmei [Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts]? No matter how I look at it, it still looks like it was made in Taiwan? The [text in the] books are printed vertically? Also the child’s tie style at the end. It was really done well. It would be great if it was really made by a Guangmei student. Sigh, just afraid it is stolen work…

NiTaiShaBi:

As long as there is the Radio and TV Bureau, no matter how good you guys make it you will not have any prospects!!! You must believe this point!

烈阳芒:

There will be a day, paper airplanes are not that fragile…

夢,骳淚淋醒:

Honestly, this is the very first, very first domestic animation that I have ever finished in my life.
It is also the very first animation to resonate with me.
I have now seen the first light [first hope] of domestic animation.
The future of domestic animation will now depend on you guys~
I crazily ding you guys~!!!

Templates:

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Moving!
When will children finally have a free and happy childhood…

princess3707:

Excellent!!!
This was done really well, and the airplane in the end is the dream that everyone has in their hearts.

bibebibe:

In the end, he still was not able to escape the restraints…
Although restrained, he just wanted to let fly the last paper airplane.
But the paper airplane is still reduced to ashes by this world…
This is the reality…
Not only was the art pretty, the message was also very deep, at present the deepest of domestic animation!

哟乖孩子:

I am a student who just took the gaokao examination this year, and seeing this made me touched me.
That path of gates resonates with us.
That paper airplane, is a person’s dreams.

What do you think of this short animated film?

water-brain-runny-nose

Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

  • Relative Truth

    Wow…

    Fuck……

    I’m gonna be easier on my students from now on…

  • Maxim

    What a beautiful and inspiring film. Every teacher and every parent should teach their children that there’s more to life than becoming a machine that works, makes money, makes more machines and dies.

  • G.

    Graphically beautiful… but cannot compare to Miyazaki though…

  • krdr

    Actually, technical level is on par with Japanese, or any other world renowned animation studio in the world. Thank God it isn’t made in Flash, moving Photoshoped pics.

    The story is somewhat dull, and I didn’t got a point with that thing from kids nose.

    Animation has some errors (like book’s falling from monsters mouth or burning of airplane).

    People think that Anime is some requires high skill to reproduce, but that is not true. Anime unique style comes from idea of cheap production. Classical, west cartoon production is much more expensive than anime kind.

    G. is right. The biggest difference is a story. Miyazaki’s movies have deep, multilayered stories. This story is shallow.

    The best parts of this short is crayon-styled ones. They have human touch.

    • Kai

      krdr, what do you mean by “the animation has some errors”? For example, the books falling from the monsters’ mouths was because the monsters are backpacks. Or do you mean the physics of the animation?

      I thought this story was pretty multi-layered, with plenty of symbolism that definitely easily resonates with a lot of Chinese people who have been through the Chinese education system.

      The short film was indeed very impressive and I think the comparisons to Japanese work are apt. It’s also nice that the Chinese commenters were so forthright in acknowledging Japanese superiority in this field, and they couldn’t have chosen a better role model in animation to learn from and aspire to.

      • krdr

        krdr, what do you mean by “the animation has some errors”? For example, the books falling from the monsters’ mouths was because the monsters are backpacks. Or do you mean the physics of the animation

        You can say it is physics. Some stuff just does not look natural, not real or realistic, but natural. Just didn’t feel right.

        The short film was indeed very impressive and I think the comparisons to Japanese work are apt

        As I said, technically, this short is on par with top notch animation studios in the world. Mastery of Japanese animation artist lays in making something from nothing. Cheap production is overshadowed (in good sense) with nice stories, characters, “soul”, their pure drawing skills.

        I didn’t understand story as 没找到 copied from vimeo site. There’s to much old folks also doing “homework”. I quite understand child’s will to play, to have freedom. Paper airplanes, flying, Sun over clouds, these are “old news”.

        Story needs polish, and animation needs a polish. I would give 9.5/10 for animation and 6/10 for story.

        Also, I don’t understand why is so strange that Chinese are good in animation? One of my favorite animated movie is famous “Monkey king”. It is influenced by Russian school of animation, but that animation is superb. Chinese people have everything what they need for good animation. People (lot of them), good storytellers and writers, directors, skill, technology and passion. Passion is most important thing. I meet a Bulgarian guy that spend 3 years making stunning 7 minute short. Every frame was masterpiece.

        Biggest problem with Chinese animation is tendency to be pathetic and to make errors, not to stick to standards and to make bad copies of others people work, which is shame.

        • Kai

          krdr,

          You can say it is physics. Some stuff just does not look natural, not real or realistic, but natural. Just didn’t feel right.

          Ah, okay, yeah, I understand what you mean. I wonder if it was lack of skill or stylistic.

          I didn’t understand story as 没找到 copied from vimeo site. There’s to much old folks also doing “homework”.

          I interpreted this as not just the education system, but the stages in life. For example, the numbers that were shown, it looked like they could represent “age”, with everyone in this contraption being at different ages all doing roughly the same thing to support the society (contraption).

          Also, I don’t understand why is so strange that Chinese are good in animation?

          I think many Chinese humbly see a lot of their work to be inferior to better foriegn examples. You also kinda answered your own question later:

          Biggest problem with Chinese animation is tendency to be pathetic and to make errors, not to stick to standards and to make bad copies of others people work, which is shame.

          • krdr

            I interpreted this as not just the education system, but the stages in life. For example, the numbers that were shown, it looked like they could represent “age”, with everyone in this contraption being at different ages all doing roughly the same thing to support the society (contraption).

            It has a sense. Thanks, Kai.

  • Ming

    If this is really Chinese make… I am really impress. 8/10 for the animation.

    But the content and the metaphor…it gets 10/10

  • Joe #2

    And here I thought that “McDull” was some kind of McDonalds-related insult until I read the Wikipedia link…

  • jeff

    lol, the ending song is a jap song. I think from eruka 7. But nice video!

    • Strangerland

      Nooo, the ending song is sung by a Chinese singer in Chinese words, unless you’re trying to say that you mistaken Chinese language with Japanese. That’s okay, because the way the singer sing in mumbles, foreigners will find it difficult to decipher what language she is using(I know, I’ve been there myself). But if you listen it closely, then it’s clear the singer is singing in Chinese butonghua. Maybe the tune is also a bit typical of Japanese animes, so it’s easy to associate it with Japanese.
      Anyway, the song is translated to “Grow up” in English, which is ironic when you understand what the video is about.

  • z0pht

    great short clip!
    i hope the chinese animation industry is finally moving on creativity and start exploring themes that relate to their society.

    kudos!

  • skydiggity

    good film, love how china is evolving exponentially (although still no reliable sources confirming its chinese origin.)

    @jeff – I could be wrong, but I find it odd that a “japanese song” is sung in 汉语

  • 没找到

    The video is downloadable from Ani7ime Studio’s blog

    http://ani7ime.blog.163.com/

    For non-Chinese reader, the download link is (104MB)

    http://www.neovfx.com/movie/A7/Water_Brain.wmv

    “Water Brain” is a graduation work by students from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts:

    “This is a story about mental pressure.In this story,the kids are constantly forced to bury themselves into their endless homework by those giant monsters behind them.The children’s brains are filled with water that can be heated by tension.If a kid is overstressed,the water in their brain would boil and produce steam,which becomes the food of the greedy monsters and the energy of the whole city.Thus,those poor children repeat their lives day after day, serving as the powerplant of their world,spending their childhood in tragic misery…… ” (from vimeo)

    • Kai

      Great links! Thanks!

  • 没找到

    And the ending song is not original, as credited at the end in Chinese (but I don’t know which is which).

    • 没找到

      then I checked again, as shown in the end, the name of ending song is ‘Grow Up’ (成长) and it has a composer and lyricist so it’s probably original but I’m not sure.

  • sofa_king

    Where did they get the money to put this thing together? I wonder if a party member’s spoiled son or daughter was involved in the project?

    It’s good to see Chinese people actually creating something and not just making something.

  • whatever

    Hey…I have some interest in computer graphic and it looks like it is a combination of 3d rendering and 2d animation (I only watched 1/3 through I need to sleep 4 work). But I don’t think he was going for the photo-realism with this piece. I’m guessing as someone who went to a digital art school he must be doing most of his work in some sort of package. Most of these 3d packages do offer off the shelf physics solutions, so one could easily do pleasing looking physics, since numerical accuracy is not the issue with most animations (however, you do need to know how to use the tools effectively). I have some knowledge about digital graphics but it is really towards the technical-side of things. The artistic-side, not so much.

    Digital art/computer graphics has two sides to it: there is the artistic side and then there is the technical side. I have a little bit knowledge regarding the technical side of things (I know at least the theories behind the tech). One can be trained to do either, or both. With digital animation you can’t do it without either (packaged tools for the artists to express themselves fully for most cases? I don’t think one needs to know how to implement a physics system in order to do 3d animation)

    So yeah, “nerds” win biaytch.

    • FangYao

      sorry are you looking for jobs????
      i know you are very capable now , but here isn’t the right place….hahaha

      • whatever

        Are you asking me if I’m looking for jobs. Perhaps. Please contact me for further inquiries at the following address:

        graphixjobsyeah****gmail.com

        **** replace with “at” sign.

        Perhaps we can work something out.

        BTW, I’m currently living on the East Coast of United States.

  • whatever

    what that made no sense. I’m such a loser. I need to work harder!!!

  • krdr

    You need more sleep!

  • ran

    the Global Times published this story yesterday
    http://life.globaltimes.cn/entertainment/2009-07/451142.html

  • Professor Sillypants

    Yeah… this is pretty good!

    But why all the fuss about comparing yourselves to Japan? Let it go.

    • Ming

      Because Japan hold the standard for animation.

      Very few western companies can compare to Japanese animation.

      • krdr

        Actually they don’t. They just have biggest production. Great studios from France, Russia and Italy cannot get focus. Even Croatia, Hungary and Czech have respectable studios and authors.

  • bs dog

    This was only made by a student, yet some people are judging it like it’s up for an Academy Awards or something – get real.

  • whatever

    BTW, I don’t understand the comparison with Miyazaki’s work. NO WAY. Not to take away anything from dude’s great work but the piece is just a short.

    And really, technically it is NO WHERE near what a real production studio can accomplish, i.e. with multiple teams with years of experience…on the cutting edge of computer graphics. This piece looks good, is good, but technical-wise it is so so (that is, without the latest bells and whistles seen in Hollywood animations/films. I would go so far to say ALL the bells and whistles I’ve seen in other ‘hobby’ animations). But I really don’t believe that you need the latest and the greatest in order to have a great animation–and that don’t mean an animation has to look shitty compared to a major production–it is just it is almost impossible to beat an Hollywood studio in production values pound 4 pound. To me, art is art and it is about the soul–in the end.

    Also the thing with Japanese animation, i can’t say I’m uber-fan, although I do love watching and reading them on occasions. I also think Manga style is not the best, not the best kind of animation. There are different styles which I enjoy, like Western style comics. Again, I’m really a big comic geek who has been into this shit for years, I just enjoy whatever entertainment I can get. It is art too! I just like exploring and expanding, mentally, by all possible means.

  • whatever

    I mean *NOT* a comic geek who has been into this shit for years.

    • Kai

      LoL, don’t worry, I was a big comic geek too.

      • krdr

        I’m still big comic and animation fan. I wrote comics as teen (not good one, though) and made about 3,5 hours of animation total (not good, but commercial successful).

  • Jen in NY

    Isn’t some of the music is from the recent Disney movie “Enchanted”? I recognize the orchestrations from “Happy Working Song,” which itself lends itself to irony in the context of this short….

    I see the monster/backpack as life’s responsibilities, which we begin to acquire early in life and continue to carry with us until we die, except for moments when we are free in our hopes.

    I liked this short, but I found the hero’s runny nose repulsive — I don’t think it’s good to have a repulsive main character!

    Also, Miyazaki uses mostly traditional animation processes, and this is clearly computer-generated animation. Miyazaki is a genuine genius who should not be compared to a student work!

  • bleah
    • krdr

      So, you think they copied character?

    • Icedew

      Big head with snot coming out has been used in so many Jap animes, that concept cannot be considered copying.

    • bleah

      that’s from HK

  • Chen

    Great film! Reminds me of Shaun Tan’s The lost thing.
    http://www.shauntan.net/books.html

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  • American

    This is a very very touching story. I almost cried in the end. I did recognize one of the songs, when the children were playing with the airplanes the background song was from a movie I watched called “Enchanted”

  • rchan

    For a graduate in a country with little animation heritage (of note that is) this is incredible! The animator has considerable flair but needs to work on making the style and characters more original. I could see ‘influences’ all the way through, Miyazaki an obvious one, I also picked out Pikmin and ‘9’. I can definitely see why kids in China can relate to the story though. Chinese animation is definately on the up!

  • blake

    just letting people know that by far the best animation quality i have ever seen (ive seen all miyazaki movies barring student films)

    is the unfinished canadian made classic The thief and the cobbler
    it has been repeiced together by a fan since the theatrical release butchered the original movie in mostly sub dvd qaulity but the impressiveness shines through

    look for a torrent “the thief and the cobbler :the uncobbled cut”

  • BillBo

    Personally I think the animation is good, the story is shallow really but certainly resonates with the average adult in the world. I am not sure of why the Chinese are so obsessed with comparisons, but I think this just looks ripped off from Western artists. Like pretty much everything in China, there is no true world class creativity here.