Using beautiful animation coupled with adept and touching storytelling, Taiko studios’ One Small Step is a film that seems to look up to the short films of Pixar, but ends up overtaking them.
That’s a lot to say – first to compare anyone’s work to that of the modern animation titan, then to say theirs is better. With One Small Step, the comparisons are apt: it uses the same animation techniques, has no spoken dialogue and the film itself is reminiscent of the unforgettable opening montage of Up.
Like that powerful sequence in the 2009 film, this short covers the life of its main character, Luna, as she follows her dream of becoming an astronaut.
The film follows her from when, as a child, she and her father first use a cardboard box as a rocket to the moon, through to adulthood where she begins getting her mind and body into shape in order to make her dream a reality.
It’s not an easy journey, either. She suffers some blows along the way, but she is supporting her both financially and emotionally by her cobbler father. His love and devotion are, in the end, what keeps her going at her hardest moments. Yet, while it would be easy to be manipulative, the film does not play up this, or any moment, to the point where it feels cloying.
Even though One Small Step is only six minutes long, it never feels rushed and, crucially, every moment feels resonant. Directors Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas are able to tell a complex story concisely, efficiently and in a universal way.
One Small Step lost out on the Oscar for Best Animated Feature to Pixar’s baffling Bao. That film tried too hard and ended up getting muddled in its own pretensions. One Small Step, meanwhile, has no ideas above its stations and tells its story and make its points far more comfortably. While Luna’s ambition is one that few people will actually share, her story is one we can all relate to.
One Small Step is a wonderful film that has a lot to say, about how much one person can effect your life and not giving up your dreams. If Luna can keep going despite the distance she has to go and the obstacles in her way, you can too. Lovely to look at and sweet without ever feeling forced or corny, this is one that is definitely worth seeking out.