Furiko (“Pendulum”) Review

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It’s unfortunate that so many brilliant animated shorts in Japan are largely seen as obscure by western audiences. It’s also unexpected that a Japanese comedian, going by the pseudonym “Tekken”, was able to capture the hearts of millions with two short, dialogueless, and crudely drawn animations. The following covers the first of the two, entitled “Furiko” (otherwise known as Pendulum).

You don’t need words to tell a beautiful story. It’s such a rare thing to see in recent anime, but Takefumi Kurashina takes the medium and strips it to its rawest form – basic animation, simple music, and an uncomplicated plot. Telling the story of a man’s journey through life and love, the narrative is beautifully composed and flows effortlessly, all while being an entirely silent affair. That being said, Furiko plays on its simplicity with great success, with the emotions of its characters pulling through in every fleeting scene. The narrative is pushed along with the frame being captured in a swinging pendulum, only stopping when the man pauses to realize the beauty in his life. However, like a swinging pendulum, life moves on, and these realizations come far and in between life’s tragically brief existence.

The music accompanying the man’s story is perfect: it’s a vague statement, but one that shouldn’t really given out lightly. The lyricless song begins with four piano chords, which repeat themselves throughout the entirety of the story. With the repetition of these chords matching up with the incessant swinging of the “pendulum”, violin melodies are added as the story progresses, similar to Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Like the story, the melody’s buildup has a beginning, a climax, and an end, bringing everything back to the same four chords used at the beginning of the piece. Ashes to ashes, so to speak. It very much reflects the whole aspect of life as a journey, marked at the beginning and end with life and death.

I’m not a big fan of the word “tearjerker”, but in Furiko’s case, tearjerker is most definitely an understatement. In three, short minutes, Furiko accomplishes to do what dozens of long-running episodes might not – emotionally captivate you with simplicity, subtlety, and an endearing story.

Check it out on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=137JwofLr60

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