The Wonder of Short Film “Shelter”…and the Debate: Is it Really Anime?

I’m sure that many of you have already heard and watched the latest trending anime short film titled Shelter, a collaboration between electronic music producers Porter Robinson and Madeon and, of course, Japanese animation studio A-1 Pictures.

Shelter tells the story of Rin, a 17-year-old girl who lives her life inside of a futuristic simulation completely by herself in infinite, beautiful loneliness. Each day, Rin awakens in virtual reality and uses a tablet which controls the simulation to create a new, different, beautiful world for herself. Until one day, everything changes, and Rin comes to learn the true origins behind her life inside a simulation.

Uploaded by: Porter Robinson

The Discovery and the Feels

To be honest, I didn’t have a clue that this was trending until I saw it featured by my friend Kausus (Otaku Gamer Zone). Afterwards, it seems that everyone is talking about it. There are also a lot of Youtubers reacting to it. The positive reaction to Shelter is really quite impressive.

The first time I watched it, I wasn’t really expecting anything. My first impression was that it has gorgeous art and animation. I’m not big on electro music, but I love Shelter. It’s catchy, yes. But I want to draw attention to the melody and lyrics, which combined with Rin’s story and the animation, successfully squeeze out all the emotions and tears from you. Agh! Just thinking about it is making me cry!

Shelter is so beautiful and so sad that I had to watch it over and over. And every single time I watch it, I always end up sobbing like a baby. It makes me think of my parents, and in extension, my whole family. It makes me imagine a time in the future when they won’t be physically with me anymore. I don’t want to think about it, but alas, it’s inevitable. Of course, I’ll be sad and feel lonely but this video assures me that as long as I treasure my memories of them, I won’t feel alone. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful!

As for the story, I must confess that I was confused at first. Why did Rin’s father send her to outer space all alone? Isn’t it cruel to do that to your only daughter? But then I watched the short film again, and I realized that the setting is an Earth that is close to becoming uninhabitable. You’ll also notice from Rin’s memories that there’s no other people present except for Rin and her father. Perhaps the population is too small to support the next generation. That’s why her father built a space pod to let Rin escape from the deteriorating Earth and hooked her to a virtual world of her own control so she won’t feel too lonely.

It’s heartbreaking to watch Rin remember all her memories with his father. I cried so badly. However, I love the ultimate sacrifice of a parent saving his beloved child even if it means that they would never embrace each other again.


As a treat, I found this video by Crunchyroll revealing the behind-the-scenes process of creating Shelter. It’s super cool and interesting. If you haven’t watched it yet, do it now! It really shows the passion of Porter Robinson for Shelter, inspiring the staff of A-1 Pictures to push their creativity.

Uploaded by: Crunchyroll

Is it appropriate to call Shelter an anime? 

There is no doubt that the release of Shelter is a huge success. It may seem that everyone is gushing about how wonderful, how beautiful, how creative, how sad this short film is, but of course—unsurprisingly—there are people who react negatively to it being called an “anime”.

In her post titled “Porter Robinson’s Music Video ‘Shelter The Animation’ Sparks Reddit Feud Over What Constitutes Anime” (Movie Pilot), Katie Granger reveals that Reddit admins of /r/anime banned Shelter because the short film didn’t meet their criteria to be recognized as an anime. They define anime as:

The specific definition we use to determine “Anime” is “An animated series, produced and aired in Japan, intended for a Japanese audience”. We do not consider anime to be a “style”.

This reminds me of a recent post submitted to my 7th Blog Carnival written by NEETaku discussing what qualifications an animated show need in order to be accepted as “anime”.

Anime purists remain steadfast in their belief that “anime” is not a “style”, but shows produced and aired in Japan mainly for Japanese audience. I understand their position. After all, I cringe whenever someone carelessly call Spongebob or Frozen “anime”. However, I think that the term “anime” must evolve to be more inclusive outside Japanese borders, especially since there are now many anime fans in other countries.

The big issue surrounding Shelter seems to be that although it’s animated by a Japanese studio, it is still produced by Americans. To anime purists, this fact alone already removes its qualification as an anime. Frankly, I think that this viewpoint is narrow-minded, and in many ways, even discriminatory. It’s like telling non-Japanese anime fans like myself, that yes, you can enjoy anime all you like but you can never become an authentic “anime fan” because you’re not Japanese. Ouch!

Shelter is an “anime”. Period.

I don’t give a freak about the detractors. For me, Shelter is an anime and that’s that. I understand all the arguments against it, don’t get me wrong. I’ll even admit that before I became an aniblogger, I would probably be one of the anime purists insisting on strict Japanese-only qualities for anime. Fortunately, I became an aniblogger and as a result, my worldview expanded to be more inclusive.

Let’s just focus on the wonders of anime. Anime has constantly taken us to immeasurable heights of imagination. Now it’s our turn. Let’s free anime, let it explore new horizons and expand its world outside Japanese borders. Let’s not try to limit or cage it within a pitifully small pedestal we erected ourselves.

Shelter, without a doubt, is a turning point of the evolution of what constitutes an “anime”. It’s not even a series. I would even hesitate calling it a short film. If you think about it, it’s basically a music video. But if you’re an open anime fan like me and you watch it, I bet that there will be no doubt in your heart that it is an anime.

Will Shelter catalyze the evolution of anime towards a more globalized medium? Or will it just be a one-hit wonder briefly noted by historians with a “nice try, bro” comment? We’ll see.

Have you watched Shelter yet? What did you think about it? Do you consider it an anime? If not, what do you consider as an anime?

A-1 Pictures Website (Japanese)
Madeon on Twitter
Porter Robinson on Twitter

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Published by Arria Cross

Blogger at since 2014. Currently a webnovelist. Check out my work "His Genius is a Superstar".

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  1. I feel a bit sad I didn’t cry nor got attached to the Shelter, I liked it quite a lot, it’s beautiful and the story is poignant, but it didn’t go deep enough with the knife to twist and make me cry xD;
    I think it’s rather bizarre this is not considered anime when IT IS a Japanese studio involved smh at people pressed over this
    People need to learn to enjoy things instead of complaint smh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Noooooooooo! Those naked bishies must have numbed you, so you didn’t get to experience the emotional rollercoaster “Shelter” is to the highest level.
      Ahahaha! I know, right? It would’ve been simpler if people just enjoyed it as it is. But you must admit that these weird debates can be entertaining. 😉


      1. I am numbed by naked bishies? Hmm. Doesn’t sound bad 😼😼😼✨🔥😈
        I’m easy to be made to cry if there’s a build up over a period of time longer than 5 minutes, it’s just too short for me to get invested 😹
        Simpler… Something humans tend not be 😈
        True, true! What is life without the spice of debates over things we can’t quantify? 😹😹😹

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post as always but I handle life in a very simple manner: if it feels and looks like anime, it is anime. That’s all there really should be to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed, what constitutes an “anime” can really be subjective. Some are more inclusive like us but purists have their rigid definition and anything that doesn’t reach their standards will not be called “anime”, no matter how very anime-like that anime is.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahahahaha! Your comment made me laugh. Thank you. Indeed, I was surprised for a second when I heard about this anime debate surrounding “Shelter”. But afterwards I just can’t help but feel that it’s inevitable.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My son showed it to me a couple of weeks ago and I love it! Stylistically, and the fact that it came out of a well known anime studio, I never considered it not to be anime. I think, sometimes, people get too caught up in the rigidity of what they think something “should be”. I just took it as a song animated by a Japanese anime studio: thus anime.
    Perhaps detractors should just chill and enjoy a beautiful piece of art.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed. That’s what I think so, too. These anime purists just want to limit “anime” which is ridiculous, especially since there’s a lot of anime fans all over the world. And what’s even funny is that probably a lot of these purists aren’t even Japanese at all. Thank you for your comment. Have a great day. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t watched it yet, but I have seen so many posts for it, that it is definitely something I am going to check out. This is always going to be a debate for people in so many different things: whether or not something is considered to be a part of something. I agree with you 100%: even though I have not seen it, I have seen enough Imagery for it, that I consider it to be Anime as well. And even if for some reason it isn’t: who cares? As long as you are able to enjoy it, and find it beautiful, what does it matter if it is Anime or not. I really liked this post: pretty much for that alone. Everyone has a right to his or her opinion. It comes down to respect, pretty much. Anime or not, just respect everyone that considers it to be a part of Anime. The most important thing is that is able to touch people’s hearts in someway, and that has definitely happened judging from all the reactions. Isn’t that the most important thing in the end? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A very optimistic take on this issue. I love it! Thank you! Indeed. No matter how wonderful something is, it seems that there will always be people who won’t just accept it as it is and find faults from it. But as for their arguments, I unfortunately understand where they’re coming from because I would consider myself an anime purist before Fujinsei. But thank goodness I’m exposed to other viewpoints and became more accepting and just enjoy anime, wherever it may be created or who may produce it. Thank you very much for your wonderful and thoughful comment. I appreciate it very much. Please keep on enjoying anime. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. When I watched it, I didn’t know it was produced by an American. To me, if it looks like a duck, talks like a duck, walks like a duck, it must be a duck. So yes, Shelter is an anime. I believe anime is a style that can be produced and created by any one anywhere in the world.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Same here. Unfortunately, other anime fans don’t think the same way. Oh well. It’s their issue, not theirs. Too bad they have to rain on someone’s parade. I’m hoping to watch more collabs like this. Thanks for dropping by. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

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