A short animated video created by popular Japanese comedian Tekken, better known for cracking jokes in black-and-white makeup than producing stop-motion tearjerkers, still has the Web talking a year after it was first went viral.
“Furiko” (Pendulum) is a three-minute flipbook that tells the emotional tale of a Japanese couple's relationship, from their beginnings as high-school sweethearts to their final moments together. This film was featured on “One Frame”, a midnight TV program in Japan, on March 17, 2012, and reached nearly 1.5 million views in its first four days on YouTube.
Before his turn as an heartfelt storyteller, funnyman Tekken was famous for accompanying his comedy routines with his own drawings. The video “Furiko”, which returned Tekken to the spotlight, consists of 1,038 pages of his hand-drawn illustrations.
Tekken chose to set his “Furiko” animation to the symphonic track “Exogenesis” by British band Muse. Months later, the YouTube video caught the band's attention and they decided to use the short film for the song's official music video, released on October 30, 2012.
The news revived the video's popularity in Japan, reaching this time not only Muse fans but a broader audience of people who had not known about the animation released seven months earlier.
Some users on social bookmarking service Hatena, looking at “Furiko” as proof, marveled at how easy cross-country collaboration is nowadays:
@habuakihiro へ〜！！ インターネット時代ってのはほんと凄いな。
The hype surrounding the video was so great that even not-so-savvy Internet users came to see it. Blogger Hiro, who first heard of the animation because of Muse's music video, wrote [ja] on November 5, 2012:
It is exactly the video's heart-wrenching emotion that makes it so popular, Sheniz Raif wrote on the online news site Buzz Patrol after Muse released its music video:
Furiko got quite a bit of Internet attention, not only for the skill of the drawing (1,038 hand-drawn pages is no easy feat) but also because of its powerful emotive quality.
On her blog, Mugiho described [ja] how “Furiko” touched her when she watched its original airing on TV:
I couldn't sleep last night and involuntarily turned on and watched a TV program without knowing what it was. It was showing some comedian anime contest or something but I was moved to tears by the animation. My eyes were swollen this morning.
Blogger Gen wrote [ja] in April 16, 2012 that even though the animation is short, it packs an emotional punch:
Frankly, the story itself is a tearjerker of a tale about a loved one's illness. However, because it is very short, the tempo is great without waste. [...] To be honest, I've never seen such a short animation packed so tightly with such genuine feeling. I am knocked out.
Blogger Droy described “Tsunagaru” on her blog [ja]:
Regardless of age or sex, people of various occupations appear in “Tsunagaru”. Everyone joins hands one by one, making the loop bigger and bigger. I heard this was made after the earthquake with the hope that we “join hands with each other to regain our life and our work and start building a new Japan.” This flip book captures everyone's hope [to rebuild Japan] in two minutes and 15 seconds.