Masaaki Yuasa (Cat Soup, Mind Game, Kaiba) creates bizarre worlds and characters to explore human nature. Happy Machine is a part of Genius Party anime anthology and, much like the opening by Atsuko Fukushima, has no dialog and open to interpretation. The main theme of Genius Party is energy, and Masaaki Yuasa depicted it quite well exploring the circle of life. I encourage you to see the film before reading the rest of the post.
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A child in a room with artificial environment is happy.
However, the energy runs low and the objects crumble.
The floor collapses, child falls and sees the real world.
We see two old shoes on the floor and a mysterious doorway. Their purpose is not clear, but it will be revealed later.
This is how child’s house looks from the outside.
His adventure begins now. First encounter is fire. Fire a good friend of humans: it can provide warmth and help cook the food, but it can also destroy. Naive child generously shares his food, but fire, akin to some people you might have met, keeps taking without giving anything in return and completely takes advantage of the child.
The child runs away and takes refuge in a drop of water, the opposite of fire. Water is a source of life and the child explores various forms that occupy huge water drops.
In the morning, the child sees the remains of the fire who wanted to swim and join the child.
The child is in despair – it is the first time he’s seen someone die. He cries, but finds an interesting animal that feeds on butterflies.
They start a journey together.
Soon a little creature joins them. It consumes the excretions of other animals and produces plants with its own.
During their travel, whey stumble upon a wonderful flying animal.
A few days later they find its corpse… The animal with long legs that transported the child also gets eaten by a sand wurm.
Now only the child and green creature remain. This green creature reminds me of Hyo Hyo from Kaiba. The child takes the wings of the creature and tries to fly, but his attempts are futile.
Green creature takes root and flies up to the flesh eating plant. Perhaps, this creature was a seed of that plant and now it returned to its creator after accumulating energy and experience and giving it back.
The child wants to save his friend and tries very hard to fly. He manages to get inside the mouth of the plant, but it spews the child out.
Now we see the same child as an old man. He carries a cart with toys and memories of his life. His body is scarred, and he can barely see. Masaaki Yuasa really has a thing for patched creatures 😛 We see similar characters in Kaiba.
The old man goes to the house he fell from as a boy and finds a crying child.
He gives the toys and milk to the baby, passing his memory and experience to the next generation.
Now it is his time to return. He enters the mysterious door, energy level of the building surges, and the baby is happy again.
The film ends with an encircled word tsugi (next), representing the next circle of life.
That Which Fuels Our Happiness by Hoshi