A thrown-away TV learns it has outlived its usefulness in Takuya Inaba’s bittersweet animated short.
It’s still Christmas here and I haven’t had a tonne of time to watch or even talk about many films. And with Journuary just around the corner, there’s plenty of work to do going into 2020. So let’s look at something a bit shorter than usual, but one that’s still telling more story than a fair number of things I’ve reviewed here over the years. And what better way to end the year and start again with a new one than with a short film about getting rid of your old crap.
Golden Time is about an old 60s television which is one day brought to the dump and unceremoniously left there. The junkyard, in stark contrast to his life at home, is a cold and desolate place, where heaps of broken appliances and cars are hauled away by magnet and destroyed. Naturally, the television has trouble accepting his new fate and tries to escape any way he can, encountering a number of other broken down items, including a stuffed wind-up cat (or possibly rabbit), whose optimism is off-putting to the grouchy TV.
Coming in at a relatively spry 20 minutes, Golden Time isn’t really about long complex character arcs or intricate world-building. Anyone familiar with shorts like this – take Pixar’s entire catalogue – will be on board with the concept within seconds and so it saves a lot of time by just getting on with the story and letting the animation speak for itself. And this is a film that’s well thought-out in a number of ways, from its careful character to the wonderful, scratchy animation style that emphasises the roughness and sadness of the television’s new reality.
In that short time Golden Time is still able to give us very endearing and interesting characters. The simplistic but effective design allows us insight into them just in the ways they talk and operate. The cat’s reliance on his winding key gives him a vulnerability that’s evident without him even having to do anything, and the television’s 60s aesthetic automatically makes him look and feel out of place and old-fashioned, so his old man personality fits it very well.
Considering it’s all silent – as many animated shorts like this tend to be – the animation and soundtrack do so much of the heavy lifting in telling us not only what’s going on, but what’s running through each character’s mind. The issue there is that it relying a little bit on pre-existing ideas the audience has, and as a result the story will likely feel a bit samey to a lot of people. It never really tries to break the mould, but I’m not sure it ever tries to. It’s just a simple, effectively-made little piece of animation that’s worth a watch, and will likely tug on a few heartstrings in the process. Now don’t you feel guilty about throwing away that old washing machine?
Verdict: Hardly the most inventive short, Golden Time nevertheless is a confident and moving 20 minutes.
Overall entertainment: 7.5/10
Violence: A bit of attempted suicide/10
Moral: Um … keep hold of your crappy broken stuff?
Golden Time (2013)
Also known as: ゴールデンタイム
Director: Takuya Inaba
Writer: Takuya Inaba