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[Fantastic Fest ’21 ‘Poupelle of Chimney Town’ review: First fully 3D animated feature from STUDIO4°C filled with energy

For kids of all ages.

Poupelle of Chimney Town is the first fully 3D animated picture from STUDIO4°C. The movie is about a chimney sweep named Lubicchi who dreams of seeing the stars. He lives in Chimney Town where dark smokes fills the sky. When he meets a man made of garbage he names him Poupelle. The two become friends, but it is not long before some in the town become suspicious of the two.

Motion and rotation are the big stand outs of the film. Director Yuusuke Hirota takes full advantage of the animation with some incredible shots. There are fast paced trips through mine cars and death defying falls from impossibly high chimney stacks. Everything succeeds in giving Poupelle a unique look. It is not bright and bubbly like many slice of life anime, but it also is not as dark and brooding as some of its more violent contemporaries. It occupies a unique space that is greyed over as if the city is in perpetual night but is not colored in a way to present fear.

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The city is lit by various signs and teems with life. It is not filled with a darkness that signifies dread, but instead highlights the despondency and hopelessness of the citizens. It gives the world of  Poupelle a lived in feeling and makes the finale that much stronger. The film targets a younger audience. There is a cast of oddball characters that are delightful. The two leads are fantastic. They both have great character designs, but it is their relationship that makes them instantly likeable. Older more cynical audiences may find it overly cute, but it is the type of friendship animated films have thrived on.

Poupelle is deep enough to captivate older audiences while still catering to kiddos. There are some themes at work that will work for viewers of all ages. The most obvious message is the eco-friendly one presented. There is also a subplot added about the economy late in the film. It does not work if one thinks too much about it, but its point about greed comes across clearly.

In an animated landscape in which Disney and Pixar are constantly topping themselves, it can be hard to stand out. Poupelle of Chimney Town is an enjoyably little tale that follows much of the formula employed by the Western animated giants. The story of friendship and the goofy characters will attract children while the more involved parts of the story will intrigue adults.

Fantastic Fest takes place from September 23 – September 30. Check out AIPT’s ongoing coverage.

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