12 Jun 2012

Peace Eco Smile: A Toyota Advertisement by Studio 4°C

It's hard to explain what makes Studio 4°C such an interesting animation studio to follow. Their most famous works range from commercials to arty short films. If you want to get yourself acquainted with this studio, my recommendation would be to watch PES and Attraction, followed by the series Tweeny Witches, then the OVA The Animatrix - "Kid's Story" and the movie Tekkon Kinkreet, and lastly the OVAs Memories, Mind Game, Genius Party, and Genius Party Beyond. But I digress! This isn't a post about Studio 4°C (though it would be interesting to do one). This is a post to talk about Studio 4°C's latest work: A mini-series in collaboration with Toyota. Yes, Toyota the car company.

This isn't the first time a car company has collaborated with a studio to produce an anime mini-series. Subaru and Gainax did that last year to some degree of success (the plot was laughable, but the art, character designs, and animation were all superb!). Toyota also worked with Hatsune Miku to advertise their cars both in Japan and overseas, so they aren't exactly new to the otaku car market. So far, 2 episodes have been released on their Youtube channel.

My impression of the series so far isn't very good. Their art style, though still colourful and vibrant, is a bit restrained here. It feels like a series that would be better tackled by Madhouse or Gainax. The animation still feels good though, and the plot progression and character development is already better than Gainax's Subaru series. But these short episodes have to capture the audiences' attention quickly in order to sell their message. In that regard, Gainax did a much better job by have a more consistent style and faster pacing.

Regardless, this is an interesting evolution in the way anime is being used to directly advertise a product. It's not a new practice (it has been done for DECADES), but the direct and upfront involvement of these companies is quite new. Studio 4°C is a very unique and creative studio so I hope they get more creative freedom or choose better projects in the future. That anti-smoking interactive animation Attraction was definitely the right direction for them to take.

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