Shelter: The Narrative

2016-10-31-2

Hello folks! Aruaruruu here with a review of Shelter by Porter Robinson and Madeon! Or should I say, Porter Robinson and A1 Pictures? In this review, I will be focusing mainly on the narrative of the music video and how it does, as a whole.

First off, a short introduction to the production. This short film/animated short/music video was a collaboration between A1 Pictures and Porter Robinson with Madeon. PA Works sneaked into the credits scene also so it’s safe to assume that those guys were partially responsible for the GLORIOUS art and backgrounds. Like I mean, GLORIOUS. 

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The main female protagonist, Rin, is voiced by Sachika Misawa (Kuroyukihime in Accel World, Rayet in Aldnoah Zero), a vastly talented voice actress (or seiyuu) who utterly had me fooled from the start of the music video.

Shelter is divided into 2 elements: the music video and the music. As someone who has not listened to all of Porter Robinson’s or Madeon’s work, I will face great difficulty in reviewing the music of this work. Therefore, I shall be reviewing exactly what makes this entire work feels so great; from the intricacies of the music video, to the various visual representations presented to us, and lastly the impact that the music has on this entire production.

Let’s not delay any further then; first, a quick look at the lyrics! The following parts in Italics are words that Rin says to herself at points during the music video. These play a very important part to the overall story telling of this work, which is why I placed them within the lyrics.


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What will become of me from now                                                                                    

 After some time, I stopped thinking about it 

Maybe I forgot…                                                                                                                                      

How to think at all                                                                                                                                                

Nothing changes anymore                                                                                                                                    

This world that belongs only to me, each and everyday, continues on                                                      

But I’m not lonely                                                                                                                                                          

It doesn’t bother me at all 

 

I could never find the right way to tell you                                                                                                

Have you noticed I’ve been gone?                                                                                                  

‘Cause I left behind the home that you made me                                                                            

But I will carry it along

And it’s a long way forward so trust in me                                                                                          

I’ll give them shelter like you’ve done for me                                                                                    

And I know, I’m not alone, you’ll be watching over us                                                                        

Until you’re gone

 

When I’m older, I’ll be silent beside you                                                                                                  

I know words won’t be enough                                                                                                              

And they won’t need to know our names or our faces                                                                  

But they will carry on for us

 

And it’s a long way forward , so trust in me                                                                                        

I’ll give them shelter like you’ve done for me                                                                                      

And I know, I’m not alone, you’ll be watching over us                                                            

Until you’re gone

 

Oh it’s a long way forward, so trust in me                                                                                        

I’ll give them shelter, like you’ve done for me                                                                                    

And I know, I’m not alone, you’ll be watching over us                                                                        

Until… 

 

Even if those memories make me sad,                                                                                                                      

I’ve got to go forward, believing in the future                                                                                                        

Even when I realise my loneliness,                                                                                                                            

And am about to lose all hope,                                                                                                                                    

Those memories make me stronger                                                                                                                          

I’m not alone…                                                                                                                                                                

Because of you                                                                                                                                                                  

Thank you 

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Perhaps a short break is due

And there we go, some good ole lyrics by Porter Robinson. I won’t be doing a very thorough lyrical breakdown here, but if you are interested, you could just take a look at my comrade’s post further down the page! I’m only going to go through exactly how the lyrics affects the storyline and plot.

Everyone wiped off their tears already? Good. Let’s clear this out of the way first…. HOW CUTE IS RIN RIGHT GUYS WOOOOH

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I JUST WANT TO PICK LITTLE RIN-OH UP AND SPIN HER AROUND!!! As I mentioned before, the art in this production is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the work of A-1 Pictures (ahem/PA WORKS/ahem); stunning graphics, beautiful colors, moving graphics rich in emotion. Once more:

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UUUUUGUUUUUUUUUU. /insert incoherent grunting noises of excitement 


So, what’s it about?

Moving on to the basic plot. We enter on Rin, our young 17 year old female protagonist, a girl living the VR dream. She lives in an environment that she controls to her liking through a tablet by. One day she could walking through eerie dead trees, another frolicking through grass plains.

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She lives her days out awaiting for a message on her magic tablet, constantly checking for one, waiting for any form of communication. One day, she finds a swing and upon touching it, receives flashback and sees an older man in her memories.

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Unable to fully remember what it is, she is flustered and the swing disappears from the environment. As the days go by, she waits some more but nothing ever happens. That is till one day again, her tablet goes “berserk” and creates an environment of its own accord and Rin is thrust into her own memory.

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Here, Rin watches her younger self engaged in various daily activities with her father, and finds out the truth of her situation. Rin was saved by her father who put her into a space capsule with life support so that she could avoid a planet colliding with Earth.

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At the end of the flashback, Rin receives a message from her father, and the music video closes on the hope that she feels from reading it.

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A quick analysis

The story is a melancholic one. From start to end, this moving narrative is accompanied by strong visuals and a light upbeat melody that carries a touch of nostalgia. My favorite part of this entire work would probably be the various emphasis of the daily moments that young Rin spends with her dad. Despite the impending doom, we see Rin celebrating Christmas, going to the shrine for the New Years, playing at the park, spending time together.

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These scenes form a huge contrast between the dark undertones that the narrative eventually takes as Rin struggles with the loneliness and remembering what her life was about. In one single 6 minute video, we see a young teenager revisiting her younger days; we see nearly every side of her, from the sad, to the contemplative, to the happy times.

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Not only does the story manage to make us, the viewers, sympathise with Rin in her pain, we can even project ourselves onto the younger version of her. Throughout the entire journey, we are accompanied with the music, a powerful tool in tickling those tear glands and pulling them heart strings when the narrative needs it. We also get to see a Rin amongst some ruins, and strangely enough, the moments before which the planetoid crashes into Earth.

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This serves to prove one thing: Rin actually REMEMBERS these events. She may not remember them consciously, but somewhere, she knows she has seen these scenery before. Looking closely, we can also tell that Rin isn’t exactly an artist; the tablet is merely a textile feature for Rin to bring out her creativity. The most likely way for this VR system to work would be it’s connection to Rin’s memories and brain itself.

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That’s some Michaelangelo material right there
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In contrast, the tablet is able to produce high detail sketches to show Rin her memories

If those sketches look ridiculously familiar, that’s because Rin’s father is an amazing sketch artist. Oh wait that would be wrong; he’s an INCREDIBLE engineer.

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The father is always painted and shown in very dark colors, a strong figure toiling away, trying to save his daughter. This man built a life support machine capable of keeping Rin alive for 7 long years, as inferred from the number of days since Rin last received a message.

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And a huge point here is the message that Rin received from her father. Here it is, translated in all its glory:

 

To: Rin                                                                                                                                                                                

From: Dad                                                                                                                                                                          

 

There was just so little time left after you were born.                                                                                        

 I don’t know how much love I managed to pour into raising after your mother died…                          

 But your smile kept me going (^_^)                                                                                                                        

 I would like to have come with you, but I couldn’t .                                                                                              

I wanted you to forget everything and move on…. I knew you’d be alright.                                              

But you’ll get lonely, and remember.                                                                                                                        

I know you’ll grow strong, and read this letter someday.                                                                                  

I really wish we could have spent more time together. I’m sorry.                                                                  

You were so young back then, too young to understand what they meant. So let me repeat…            

My final words to you 

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Man, reading it again, I still get the chills. This man would probably be the very definition of a father. This simple letter shows us the pain left behind by the father who was forced to leave Rin all alone in a capsule, knowing that she would be left floating in space alone. It tells of his reliance on Rin, as much as she relies on him. The scenes of daily life portrayed now makes sense; in his work, he had to squeeze out time to celebrate the simple things in life, and these memories became precious things for both Rin and her father.

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Unsurprisingly, Rin finds solace and resolution in the letter. In her despair following the flashback, the letter gave her the spark of hope and determination to continue living. This is a story of hope, of course, and the music video portrays it so beautifully. Rin is once again back in the green plains she was seen frolicking in earlier in the music video, clutching the tablet. The letter, however, seems like an automated one, and while this gives us no clue as to her father’s survival, it makes the perfect end.

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The Lyrical Link

The lyrics play a huge part in this narrative. It fills the gap between Rin’s only two monologues found at the beginning and the end of the music video. It tells a story of both Rin and her father, their longing to be with the other and their stories. I won’t do a full lyrical breakdown here; my comrade is going to do a really thorough one and it’s coming up next week so I’ll leave it to him! 

The lyrics points out two clear things: Rin’s father’s hesitation and sadness at leaving Rin in the capsule, and Rin’s determination FOLLOWING the events in the music video to give any other survivor shelter. The lyrics are beautiful in their own right. They convey the loneliness that each side experiences. They connect the two together, even though both are separated in time. 2016-10-31-41

The story of hope and loneliness is cemented together by these very lyrics. Taken out of context, these lyrics could very well be a vague story about separation. Within this music video, however, it makes the narrative whole, turning it into a continuous story about the hope passed down through the generations.


In conclusion…

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This is a story of hope. A hope attained by the pain of two individuals. A hope shared by a father and daughter. A hope that would continue through Rin and to the people that she resolves to give shelter to. To the universe of the music video, we get the sense that perhaps, just perhaps, Rin manages to save and bring salvation to the people. It’s a sad scene, imagining Rin alone, fighting and trying to save the people. It also doubles as a symbol of hope that maybe that world could be saved.

In the real world, however, this music video holds a totally different hope. It holds the hope of fulfilling the great weaboo dream. Watch the Behind the Scenes video of this production and you will encounter the passion of Porter Robinson manifested in video form. Throughout the entire music video, we can clearly see the effort and passion that went into making this production a great one. Not only does the music resonate with the story, the video is gorgeous and seamless.

This production represents the hope and passion of many people attempting to strike it out in the anime industry. For all purposes and rights, Porter Robinson is an outsider, probably unrelated to the anime industry. But his works highlights his passion for anime and all things related, and that passion, that effort, translated itself into this wonderful piece of work. This was the work of many individuals, one of whom is a “gaijin”, working together with one of the biggest names of the anime industry. Think about it: HOW COOL IS THAT?!

It gives many of us here some hope that perhaps, one day, someone trying to strike it out could also reach such mainstream success. It gives me hope that one day, doujin artistes could also one day reach this level of success in the mainstream industry. It’s a hope that will continue on, seeing as how Shelter already has a huge impact to the online anime community.


To the REAL conclusion…

Put simply, this work is great. Gorgeous. Amazing. Incredible. Good. Awesome.Outstanding. The list of adjectives I can use goes on and on. Actually, I’ve already exhausted my list of creative words writing this piece. This is a story of hope, that I feel, will linger in the minds of many for quite a long time.

Once again, I would like to reiterate that the opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. I would also like to thank the various members of the online community that translated the letter to Rin and transcribed the lyrics of the song. It was a great pleasure to review this magnificent production.

So before I go, have some Rin-oh!

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THIS IS WHAT THE BEST DAUGHTER IN THE WORLD LOOKS LIKE 

Have a good day dear viewers, aruaruruu signing out!

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