Yonna in the Solitary Fortress is a fully computer animated short film that tries to create a soft storybook feel. It doesn’t work. The show comes off as just creepy looking. The story is nonsensical but here is a sketch: Yonna and her brother are driven to live in a fortress alone because thye have magical powers. The monarchy that governs the planets have sent agents to try to get them to work for the monarchy. Her brother, Stan, protects her to the point she is actually a prisoner. Yonna realizes this and follows the agent out of the fortress after Stan tries to kill the agent and make her stay.
That’s pretty much it.
The animation is unfortunately stiff and doll like. The facial expressions gave me the willies. They just didn’t look or move right. The show really doesn’t fall into the “uncanny valley.” (The point when something starts to bother us because it looks like it should be human, but something is off ) The characters are too stylized for that. They just look like animated dolls whose hair doesn’t move. Still shots from the film look good, far better than when the characters start to move. Joint seams often show up when the camera angle is just so. The camera angles are nicely done and so is the lighting at least.
Realism is tough to pull off in computer animation. Too realistic and they often come away looking like moving corpse or, in this case, dolls. Both just unsettle the viewer and distract them from the story….as much story as Yonna has anyway. Computer animation is best suited to cartoon effects or realistic stylizations like Final Fantasy: Advent Children. Speaking of that, the creator of the film, Kengo Takeuchi, worked on Final Fantasy: The Movie. You can see the similarities between Yonna and Spirits Within. It is unfortunate that these scenes break down as soon as the characters start to move. CGI is a tough thing to get right.
Save yourself the 30 minutes and skip this one unless you are a Computer Animation student.