Shelter: A Different Way of Anime Storytelling


Anime can be distinguished in many ways, whether it be in film and series, or genre. There is another type of anime, one that’s not as commonly produced as your typical series, and that is music videos. The idea might sound strange, but it works in the same way as animated short films, with the exception of music in the background for most of the duration.  A striking example of such anime is the music video of Porter Robinson song ‘Shelter’, which was made in collaboration with Madeon. It is a six-minute clip that was created by the anime studio, A-1 Pictures, and was released by Crunchyroll. The plot of the animation is based on an original story written by Robinson, who frequently travelled to Japan to work with the studio.

In the music video, the story begins before the music, and it follows seventeen-year-old Rin, a girl who lives by herself in a computerised simulation. In her virtual reality, Rin has the ability to draw and design the world around her, creating different artistic environments. As time goes on, her loneliness increases, until she suddenly experiences visions of her life before she entered the simulation. In these visions, Rin sees her seven-year-old-self living in Tokyo with her father. During these observations, we find out that a large planet was going to collide with earth, and Rin’s father was building a space capsule for her to escape. Just before the collision, he uploads Rin’s consciousness in a simulator within the capsule, wipes her memory of her life on earth, and launches the machine into space.

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The anime holds an emotionally-stirring narrative that touches on the theme of loneliness, and how a prolonged time of isolation from others will have us yearning for human contact. Shelter also highlights the theme of hope for a better future, and how we must hold on to it for strength to face the next day. The story and themes are illustrated through stunning animation, with almost every scene captivating the enchantment of Rin’s ‘realities’, while also portraying realistic details of the character’s emotional struggle. The anime is further complimented by the song ‘Shelter’, with Madeon being the lead vocalist for the track. Robinson’s electronic composition and Madeon’s voice worked to create a captivating track, one that sings the narrative in the anime. There are moments in the music video when the song is paused, allowing us to hear Rin’s inner thoughts which is voiced by Sachika Misawa. Overall, Shelter is a beautiful music video that works as an excellent short anime.

It is not often that something like Shelter is made, but the anime proves that music videos can serve as an excellent form of animated storytelling. However, for music videos to become a genre in Japanese animation, it requires a lot more people like Porter Robinson who are passionate about anime, and are willing to combine their musical talents to help tell a story in this form of art. The music video for Shelter was released in October last year, and has since received positive reviews from critics.

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Check out the music video for Shelter here:

Check out the making of the music video here:

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