Pale Cocoon

Genre: ‘Hard’ Sci fi
Score: Good
Length: 1 episode

In the distant future, humanity is living in the remains of what were once great structures, buildings that stretch above, below and in every direction further than anyone can see. They are now increasingly abandoned, and the upper levels of the structure are being forgotten as people move down. The only memories of the world that was are old data: pictures, sounds, movies. Most of the archives are scrambled and lost, but with work some parts can be recovered, giving little glimpses of what used to be. Ura and Riko are among the last few people who still bother to work in the Excavation Department, recovering old archived data.

This short film (basically one 25-minute episode) is classic sci fi. No aliens or FTL, just some people living in a different world. The two characters embody the story’s main conflict: Ura is obsessed with the past, with getting each tiny fragment of the world that used to be. Riko wants them to give up, to move down to the lower levels where the rest of humanity lives and get on with their lives.

CG in anime is so often done badly, but here it’s impressive and understated. The dark scenery full of artificial lighting captures the sense of staircases and elevator shafts miles high, of a structure so huge and old that people can no longer conceive of anything beyond it.