The accurately-named indie OAV "This Boy Can Fight Aliens" is the latest short project from animator Yamamoto Soubi. She's only 21, but she's already established a style that's bright, candy-colored, a little visually busy, but never boring. Focusing on Kakashi, an amnesiac teen who discovers that he has the ability to daily fight off the alien invaders who challenge him for control of the planet, "This Boy Can Fight Aliens" mixes a little bit of comedy with a hint of boy-on-boy romance, flashes of action, and a abrupt turn in its last third into drama, almost making the whole thing more interesting for Yamamoto's kitchen sink approach to the production.
The 28-minute short introduces us to Kakashi, who's been fighting the aliens back for some time after being discovered on a hill without a memory by sweet-natured defense command employee Arikawa. Arikawa, Kakashi, and Arikawa's handsome but stern commander Shiro share a house together on a hill. Each day, Kakashi heads out, fights the latest in a line of shadowy black and violet alien constructs, then heads home for dinner with Shiro and Arikawa, and it's this monotony (along with his lost memory) that's starting to wear down the alien fighter.
Yamamoto makes Kakashi's memory loss a concrete thing using a broken cell phone that was found next to him on the hill. The boy would rather not have it reactivated, but he's troubled by the fact that there might not be anyone out there to miss him or care about him. Again, the story goes from sweet and funny in the first two-thirds or so with dinner and breakfast table banter between the three leads and the really short monster fights, but in that last third, it gets dark as our hero becomes consumed by his own doubts and loneliness. Although earned (it just takes the joke of Kakashi's daily fight and turns it into tragedy) it may take a moment to catch up with how dark the whole thing has gotten.
The short's creator flirts with the obvious romance between Kekashi and Arikawa, but nothing beyond a chaste, shared bed and Arikawa's constant fussing over the world's defender really serves to tilt the story into outright yaoi. The three character designs and behavior do head in that direction though, with Shiro's cattiness counterbalancing Arikawa's giant, doe eyes and flustered protective demeanor around Arikawa.
The animation itself is impressive for someone putting the whole production together by themselves, but Yamamoto can't seem to resist having something moving or jumping onscreen, usually floating text telling us what a character is thinking. The bright colors which help the short stand out can be a hindrance too when everything is similarly brightly colored with a little bit of computer-assisted gradient, it causes the action on-screen to lose its sense of depth.
Now that the young animator has found her style, I'm hoping that she'll keep refining it and bring us a longer form project that has more room to breathe in the future.
You can enjoy This Boy Can Fight Aliens in both English DTS-HD 2.0 and Japanese DTS-HD 2.0. In addition to a written Q & A with Yamamoto, a video interview with the director, and a collection of Sentai Filmworks trailers, the disc also includes three of Yamamoto's early shorts:
Sekaikei Sekairon (04:47)
Ra/Radio Noise Planet (03:33)
Robotica Robotics (10:39)
"This Boy Can Fight Aliens" is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Section23 Films.