Too Big in the Tank by Joo Choon Lin

animated and delightful fishes, aren’t we?

Too Big in the Tank by Joo Choon Lin

The metaphor of children as fishes, reminds me of the Japanese animation, Ponyo (2008) directed by Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli. Unlike classically animated Ponyo, Too Big in the Tank is a stop-motion non-narrative short film, with kids from the Jamiyah Children’s Home. The purpose of the two films are dramatically different. The Studio Ghibli rendition, is an unusual and original fairy tale of friendship; on the other hand, Joo’s work seems to be a portrayal of a boy protagonist with dreams for the future. Joo’s work also allows an interpretation about a class struggle at the youngest possible age. The former, the goldfish princess with the magic of the ocean to unleash; the latter his imagination to set him free. While the dialogue isn’t well dubbed and comes across as mumbling, the visuals break the artist’s usual repertoire, and daringly blends layering and composites to heighten the dream-like atmosphere. One who follow’s Joo’s work will appreciate the divergence, making her moving images connect with the viewer emotionally. What is perhaps the next frame, is to examine each and every picture and making them all work. A smoother stop-motion and careful lighting would up a few notch and perhaps High Dynamic Range (HDR) would push the moving images to hyper realism.

Too Big in the Tank can be understood as a symbolic portrayal of wanting to out grow the tank, or confines of a physical space. As children grow up, their understanding of the world naturally widens and a physical space can hold them no longer. If the environment is right, they should grow up being self-confident, a self-directed learner, a concerned and active citizen of the world. What tugged my heart strings is the knowledge that unfortunately, what lies outside is a larger, deeper tank. And adults accept these tanks for one reason or another. Only the bravest (ocean) fish will yearn for the ocean, risking all odds for adventure and life lived.

6.0 of 10 stars

20 May – 3 Jul 2011, Esplanade Tunnel

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