Director Misaki Uwabo (who goes by the name NuQ) has described his student film New Tokyo Ondo as “nonsensical,” and I guess that’s fair enough. The plot, as near as I can piece it together, involves a (father/daughter?) duo finding a giant coin, imagining what they could spend it on in a futuristic Tokyo, and then making their way to the city in a really unique way.
But the story isn’t what sells New Tokyo Ondo. This is animation at its most exuberant, a whirlwind of camera movements, neon colours and non-stop energy. Uwabo kept the art style deliberately primitive, drawing everything with a pencil tool, but the animation is actually incredibly sophisticated, and some of the individual images are still quite breathtaking.
The most impressive thing about New Tokyo Ondo is the movement. The characters travel in completely unexpected ways, and the camera does the same, rarely lingering for more than a second or two before whipping around to reveal a new perspective, or just for the sheer thrill of it. I’ve returned to this film quite a bit in the five years since it came out, and every time I leave grinning. It is animation for the joy of animation, and it’s absolutely infectious.