Directed by Yih-Fen Chou/ Reviewed by Antonio Rozich
Both in West and East, animation is a prominent art weaved at the very core of creating children’s entertainment. From the western point of view (what this means is a general and average point of view), the heart of eastern animation is in Japan, meaning, anime. By all means, his generalization shouldn’t be taken in a negative light. Instead of looking at it as ignorance, it should be observed as a multitude of choices and creations. With such an abundance of animation, it’s no wonder one takes the throne – no matter what part of the world we’re talking about. Nevertheless, eastern animation, more specifically, children animation is much more than spiky-haired characters and Yih-Fen Chou with Mimi Meets Books states that clearly.
Whenever I get to review either a short or full-length movie that’s made for children, my initial thought is what can I write about. As a person in his early 30s and without children of his own, I’m hardly a person that has too much experience with kids (taking care of 2 younger brothers doesn’t count). So Mimi Meets Books came as a pleasant shock. The opening scene is a minute and a half long intro that has everything a children’s cartoon should have. A lovable character, cheerful music, and bright colors any child will enjoy. We can say the basic package is here.
But what happens below the main package or layer is where the gold is. Of course, it’s improbable an average 5-year-old will care about this. As said, everything a child needs is in the main package – from the first second to the last. If you are a 5-year-old, you can stop reading here. But, if you’re an animation enthusiast who can see the beauty in “childish” animation or you want to know how the review ends, keep on reading.
Yin-Fen Chou is a mother of two who has an MA in Japanese Literature, and an MA in educational psychology. The reason for the Yin’ Fen’s “Success List” isn’t to impress a random reader. In fact, it’s to create the starting point for why Mimi Meets Books works as quality children’s entertainment. The creator of this 6-minute short isn’t someone who doesn’t know how a child’s brain works or how to change diapers (like me). It’s somebody who has first-hand experience – both as a mother and a professional. Thus, Mimi Meets Books is a joyful animation that will seduce the heart of children from any world corner. To be fair, based on the story and the silly humor that dominates in the animation, one will very quickly realize where the cartoon comes from (of course, the language is a dead giveaway as well).
The plausible reason why this short piece of animation works so well is, of course, animation. Characters seem as if they have a life of their own – as if they were created by their own will, instead of by a pen of an artist. Is this statement a little over the top? Yes, but it’s also true. It’s not only the drawing skills that make the characters seem so alive. It’s also the subtle parts, meaning, if this was a book, I’d use the term “read between the lines”. It’s the way Yih-Fen dictates the characters to move, behave, and act. While an adult’s eye might think the character will move one way, the character does the opposite. In a way, this makes Mimi Reads Books interesting both to a child and an adult.
Finally, all that’s left to say is if you do have kids and you’re looking for something to entertain them that isn’t the “junk food” of cartoons, look no further. Mimi Reads Books is a great doorway to kids’ cartoons that offer just the right amount of entertainment – small spoons, instead of big, adult spoons. The cartoon doesn’t aim too high and in the case of Yin-Fen’s work, that comes as a compliment. Simultaneously, the animation doesn’t want to be cheap, but it also doesn’t want to be too “artsy” and complex for a 5-year-old to enjoy.
Although I don’t have any children, I know one thing. A child’s mind is one of joy, wonders, and simplicity. A mind that doesn’t need to be impressed by how smart or creative you are. All it needs – is love.