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3 Cutting Edge Animated Short Films You Must Watch

3 Cutting Edge Animated Short Films You Must Watch

From Liquid Television to What A Cartoon, we’ve always enjoyed animation anthologies. There’s something so thrilling about never knowing what to expect. What could the next short even look like? However, it’s a big, overwhelming internet out there. Trying to find some cool content can be seriously daunting when there’s so much to sift through.

We figured we’d do the animation aficionados in our audience a solid and cherry pick some recent favs we came across in Vimeo’s Staff Picks section. One short’s about a high-speed, break-neck treasure hunt in an underground society of robots. Another follows a couple experts of alien botany for one of the trippiest extra-terrestrial travelogues ever rendered. And the third reflects a very human experience through a beautifully-warped lens. None of these are alike in any respect, other than being compelling works of art. We hope you find them just as eye-opening as we have.

SCAVENGERS

The flora and fauna of alien planets have rarely seemed as… unearthly as they do in this wordless short from Joseph Bennett and Charles Huettner. Produced in collaboration with Adult Swim and Titmouse Animation, the short follows a pair of unassuming scientists who play various ETs off each other in search of what might be the perfect high? Or maybe not? Again, there’s no dialogue, so Scavengers definitely leaves a lot up to interpretation. Nothing is ever as it seems, especially when aliens’ anatomy start looking like the inner workings of fleshy machines. Whether this short totally takes away your appetite, or leaves you hungry enough to go a scour a farmers market’s exotic produce section, is entirely up to your taste.

X-STORY

Vitaliy Shushko has directed what feels like a lost cut scene from the third interactive laserdisc adventure Bluth Studios never got to make after Space Ace and Dragon’s Lair. Equal parts Bionic Commando, Mega Man, and Blade Runner; this silent thriller follows a cyborg mercenary who’s been hired to brave a subterranean fortress and wrest control of the quirkiest super weapon ever engineered. Some of the locations seem like they’ve been built directly from the level plans of NES-era video games. Of course, in contrast to Dirk the Daring, this unnamed adventurer might be more duplicitous than he is dashing, and his double-crossing ways might come back to bite him when he could really, really just use a hand.

REFLECTIONS

One more wordless short. As you’ll notice, all of these selections use purely visual storytelling to get their plots across. And as Morgan Gruer demonstrates, dialogue would only just get in the way of the deep emotions being expressed. Using a water color style, and a variety of abstract, expressionist symbols, Reflections charts the arc of romance, break-up, and potential reconciliation. The joys of love and the pangs of heartbreak are expressed with mesmerizing swirls, evocative dance routines, and a tone that smoothly swings from playful to meditative. A truly beautiful piece here.

Which of these short toons resonated with you most? Are there any other new, striking animated shorts online that we really ought to seek out? Drop your recs in the comment section below. We’d love to spotlight more pieces like these in the future.

Featured Image Credit: Vitaliy Shushko

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