Title: Pale Cocoon
Director: Yasuhiro Yoshiura
Writer: Yasuhiro Yoshiura
Year Released: 2006
Run Time: 23 minutes
Pale Cocoon is an OVA written and directed by Yasuhiro Yoshiura. This being the first Yoshiura film I ever watched, I had no idea what to expect from it. I was as surprised by the short 23-minute length of the animation, as I was with its dark and artificial underground setting. Admittedly, I didn’t read the synopsis beforehand, and was anticipating lots of nature, butterflies, and such.
Pale Cocoon is set in the distant future, where the environment has been so badly damaged that the earth’s surface has become unlivable for humanity. To survive, humans dig themselves an underground sanctuary deep within the earth’s core.
Ura and Riko, this story’s protagonists, were born inside this underground world. They both work for the The Bureau of Record Excavation, in charge of gathering, restoring, and segregating the last remaining records of humanity’s past.
“It was better not to understand. About the green world… and that humans destroyed that world.” – Riko, Pale Cocoon
More people leave the bureau each year, as fewer of them are interested in learning about their ancestor’s mistakes. Riko is staring to have doubts about her work. She questions Ura about his overzealous dedication to studying all the materials he uncovers at work. Despite this, Ura continues searching for more truths. Until one day he discovers a strange video.
The concept of the archives—of gathering, studying, and cataloging materials from before the world’s surface became unlivable—drew me into this film. I admired Ura for his dedication to his job, his fascination with records of the past. Like him, I was dismayed by the fact that less and less people wanted to learn more about the original green and blue earth because all the information they uncovered was so depressing.
How could their ancestors have been so stupid? How could they let the environment be destroyed?
And so the present-day humans in this film are essentially trapping themselves in a monochrome world where they are protected from the horrors of their past and the present state of the earth’s surface. Perhaps this apathy towards learning the truth is understandable. It’s not like they can do anything to reverse earth’s degradation anyway.
But what will Ura find in pursuit of the truth? What secrets does the mysterious video he discovers hold? What will be revealed when he rides up to the planet’s surface? When he breaks out of his pale cocoon? Perhaps, he rushes towards his inevitable death? But what if he discovers something else?
I believe that humans are meant to live on earth as it is today, not in enclosed tunnels underneath the earth’s surface, nor other similar accommodations. So it is natural for Ura to search for his real home, while refusing to accept his present reality. That most of humanity seems resigned to living in a box is just sad.
And it is Ura’s struggle for truth and freedom that makes Yoshiura’s animated short so gripping and exciting, if a bit simple and rushed…and that music video was just weird.
Looks-wise, the sepia and monochromatic tones used throughout the film were perfect in conveying a mood of loneliness. It also portrays a detachment from the earth and all its colors. It may not have the hyper realistic pastel imagery we’re used to seeing in modern anime films, but Pale Coon has its own understated beauty nonetheless.
Coffee Bean and Tea Reads Rating:
4 out of 5