Alberto Vázquez makes his directorial debut with his dark animated feature Bird Boy: The Forgotten Children. The film tells interwoven stories about drug-addicted animals that populate a post-apocalyptic fantasy world.
The film is clearly an allegorical fable but what the story is commenting on is unclear. Bird Boy doesn’t speak or interact with the other characters for a majority of the film, and the most emotionally poignant moments are told via flashback.
While the fox, mouse, and rabbit have a clear motivation–to get off the island–Bird Boy doesn’t have a clear goal or a clear obstacle. The supernatural elements in the world are inconsistent with characters morphing into Godzilla-sized demons one moment, only to be easily defeated within seconds.
The art style of Bird Boy is a unique blend of sketchbook and watercolor that illustrates a hauntingly beautiful world.
The character designs are simple, iconic, and the characters are instantly likable. It’s not an American CGI talking-animal movie or an Anime; Bird Boy is its own thing and does just as much with a lot less.
This is one of the darkest cartoons I’ve seen this year including Devilman Crybaby. There are real scenes of horror, teen sexuality, and black humor. The hardmix between cute character designs and harrowing violence is risky and unlike anything in American Cinema.
Bird Boy: The Forgotten Children isn’t for everyone. Ultimately, I think it’s worth seeing even if the lack of plot was frustrating. For mature, independent animation, this film is a step in the right direction. I am hopeful that future works from Alberto Vázquez will have stories that match the quality of the artistry.
Here’s a teaser for his next film Unicorn Wars.