Everyone on the internet right now is telling me to watch ‘Shelter’, the very talked about 6-minutes anime music video by Porter Robinson (am I supposed to know him by any chance?). I’ve heard from my friends that it was a tear jerking experience and their recommendation was; “It’s just SIX minutes, you’ll like it”. Okay, what do you mean? Long story short, I took a dive and watched it but it was a far cry from being a masterpiece. Normally it would take a few repeats for you to fully understand what it is they are showing so do pause and take a better look if you must.
And here comes the question, can you really tell a well-rounded story in 6-minutes? Yes, you can, that’s my belief anyways. I bet that you watch mostly 12-episodes seasons with lots of screen time to flesh the characters out or to just get a general feel of how the characters are like. In Shelter, our protagonist, Rin, doesn’t speak at all aside from the beginning of the video and at the very end. This really was the real barrier that prevented me from relating with her at all because while I do know that they were hinting at loneliness, isolation, anxiety and overcoming the loss of a loved one, the dialog was not convincing.
“Maybe I forgot how to think at all” “But I’m not lonely, it doesn’t bother me.”
“Even when I realize my loneliness” “I’m not alone because of you”
I feel like any single person could have said those lines. It’s just not that hard to come up with something that will describe what she is feeling but no, we are looking at a cry baby saying things that really don’t seem to make her situation any more special. Surely these words carry meaning but that same meaning is universally understood and didn’t have an impact on me. Fine, you’re hiding your depression and enduring it, yeah brag about it, cause I’ve heard what you’re saying again and again from a whole load of other shows.
FYI, Rin is stuck in a digital world where anything that she draws becomes reality and everything can be simulated in this world minus the physics of course. The animation as you can expect, is pretty breathtaking when you see it, one minute she’s running in a green field as wide as the eye can see and the next, she’s sitting at the edge of a huge glacier which for some strange reason glows colors…
After years of being suppressed, her subconscious begins to creep in on the simulation. One day, she notices that a swing and a big tree mysteriously appeared in her world even though she didn’t draw it. This triggers memories from her childhood to resurface. She thinks about the past for a little while but ultimately ends up suppressing these feelings again and goes back to what she usually does, creating more incredible stuff for us to awe at.
But these memories soon begin to leak onto her world but she doesn’t understand what she is seeing and she tries to ignore it. Feeling sadder in the process. Eventually, this triggers a bug and a very deep rooted memory takes hold of the simulation and she finally understands why she was put in this world in the first place.
We learn that she was the only successful candidate of a program her father created, aimed at making sure that the human race can continue on once after the apocalypse. Now for the sake of spoilers, I won’t tell you what it is. Oh and there’s a portrait of a woman holding her new born child beside the TV with a flower vase near it… Seriously, who didn’t see this coming? Safely playing by the rules huh?
To wrap up, a refreshing experience that requires a little prying open to understand it’s real worth. You really shouldn’t take anything at face value, especially if the story is cramped in a 6-minute space. Shelter was a great example of visual storytelling plus with a catchy techno song that you might even like more than the actual video. It was only when I set my mind to reviewing that I found out that it was not at the slightest a disappointment. So, here is me recommending Shelter to all my readers (that’s you!). Stay tuned for more posts and thanks for reading, as always.