Film Review: Pigtails

In association with Scotland Loves Anime


In the three years and counting since Hayao Miyazaki’s retirement, one may be forgiven for believing that the anime film industry has entered something of a dark age. However Pigtails, the directorial debut of Yoshimi Itazu (who himself worked under Miyazaki on the director’s final film, The Wind Rises) proves that this is quite simply not the case. With gentle pacing, gorgeous artwork, and superb choices of music, Itazu crafts a haunting, poignant tale that examines the melancholic nature of a world where objects and people are left to ponder the purpose of their own existence.

Objects themselves play an integral role in the film, since Itazu makes the interesting choice of giving them voices while keeping the human characters silent. The result is that Pigtails is a film which relies on physical expression, more so than dialogue, to create meaning. Although inanimate objects do ‘speak’ and provide needed context to the audience by commenting on the actions of human characters, it is primarily through their gestures and body language, as well as those of the human characters, that Itazu conveys emotion. Every single action in the film carries a different meaning, and Itazu uses these different meanings to lead the audience to their own conclusion, without telling them exactly what the right answer is.

It is this ambiguity, open to all kinds of interpretation, that is the main strength of the film – but it could also be considered as a weakness. Some may feel that Pigtails, in its aim to let the audience come to their own conclusion by withholding information, leaves too much unsaid. Others may feel perturbed by the film’s stylistic experimentations, such as its silent protagonists, its short length, or its lack of overt conflict. But ultimately, these things combine to make Pigtails something different, something new, and thus something interesting. The film is a bold first step into the world of animation for a first-time director, but it is a move which has paid off for Yoshimi Itazu, and which bodes well for his future projects.

[Luke McWilliams – @luxxybee]                

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