The Young Animator Training Project is an initiative by the Japanese animation industry to help train home-grown animation talent in a financial environment which is no longer conducive to nurturing such talent the traditional way. Animation studios are provided a grant to produce a thirty minute animated piece during which experienced animators serve as mentors while younger animators hone their skills. Over the two years that this initiative has been active, eight animated shorts have been produced, many of them featuring creative visuals and interesting narratives that cover a wide variety of subject matter. While I certainly plan to talk about the others at another time, today I felt compelled to write about the most recently-released entry, "Minding my own Business."
The story is told from the point-of-view of a young elementary-school boy who witnesses a classmate being repeatedly harassed by a gang of bullies. The boy wrestles with his own conflicted feelings throughout most of the episode; one part of him fantasizes about striking back against the bullies and defending his classmate, while the other suspects that, by standing up for his friend, he might become the next target. Eventually, the bullied classmate moves away and some of the neighborhood parents accept this as a marker of his own guilt. The protagonist continues to wrestle with his feelings which come from knowing the truth of the matter while witnessing several situations that echo the one in which he was too intimidated to stand up for himself and his friend. As these things go, he's finally given the chance to redeem himself.