a.k.a. Sero Hiki no Goushu
Gauche plays the cello for the local town orchestra. With just mere days away from a concert, the group has yet to gel completely and play in unison, and Gauche is singled out as the weakest link. He is determined not to give up and plays tirelessly into the night, perhaps to seek some divine intervention. Little was he prepared for the help that came knocking on his door.
summary by Kain
Highs: Simple yet entertaining; high feel-good factor
Lows: Not visually appealing
Based on a much-beloved fairy tale by Miyazawa Kenji and brought to the big screen by a pre-Ghibli Takahata Isao, Gauche the Cellist is a simple telling of how one man overcomes his shortcomings when he realizes how important his work is to others.
Staying true to the original story must have been some task since there probably was a strong desire to fill Gauche’s world with grandiose, superfluous detail. Instead, Takahata keeps things as basic as an anime can get; there are only three settings throughout this short movie, the bulk of which is Gauche’s Spartan, cottage dwelling. Character designs are done in a very minimalist manner, as well as the music which only seems to make itself known when the characters in the anime are playing their instruments. Camera angles and shots are utilitarian in nature, not overly elaborate nor excessive in approach. This truly is in stark contrast to two of Takahata’s next premieres: Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind and Laputa: Castle in the Sky.
It’s because this movie is so free of excess that the viewer can concentrate on Gauche’s maturation as a cellist and as a man. My one major complaint is that the art and animation, perhaps as a result of the unembellished intentions of its director, really leaves much to be desired. Some will say that this allows the anime to remain rooted in the homegrown, folklore origins of the story it’s based on, but I feel that it could have looked prettier and still gotten its point across.
While not a well-known title among Western otaku (and likely will not be for quite a long time, since there isn’t a strong push to import this anime officially), Japanese audiences are acquainted with Miyazawa’s story, and most say that Takahata did a nice job adapting it to the anime medium. I tend to agree.
Gauche the Cellist can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.