Director: Jung-Ho Kim, South Korea, 2003 4:30min
The film opens in a workout room that we quickly realize is for crabs only. Even though a small twig dumbbell is in focus in the front of the frame, our attention shifts to a crab emerging from the shadows in the back of stage left ready to workout. The shot opens up to reveal another crab on a punching bag and the first crab now running on a red treadmill. A third crab scurries in and surveys the room and goes over near the punching bag and starts imitating the crab's punching movements. Here we find a recurring theme of imitation and adoration and the next three minutes of the film this crab tries to fit in despite being a newcomer. His biggest challenge is trying to keep up the pace on the treadmill, which he attempts after the first crab by imitating his movements as he runs on the treadmill. However, just when you think the story is about Crab #3, a fourth crab enters and he too is out of place and awkwardly tries his luck at the treadmill. Soon he masters a good treadmill technique and leaves Crabs 2 and 3 in awe who then imitate him by emulating his successful treadmill technique.
Not surprisingly, yet interesting to note, is how cinematic this animated short is. The computer animator has captured great detail including the tile mosaic on the floor and every bump on the crab's claws. In addition, there is a variety of camera shots including the standard closeup and reaction shots featuring eyeline matches. Though this is an animation and the non-diegetic music is light-hearted, the film is still serious in tone. This could be my own interpretation due to the lighting. Each frame is dimly lit; only the focused objects (crab, treadmill, etc.) are bright and lit. Everything else is in shadows. This short features many dark browns and tans and shadows which add to a very non-Disney feel, which is in contrast to what is expected of animation. Because of this the gym appears ominous and threatening initially. This, to me, is very interesting; however, I am not sure if this is indicative of Asian animation. This short film won the Digital Art Award at the Grand Prix in Tokyo and I believe it was well-deserved. What really impressed me were the details! This appears to be a calling card film, I could see these characters being used again and their stories expanded upon. This short is humorous, cute, and yet at the same time, has serious undertones reflecting human behavior and the need to keep up with the "Joneses."