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Anime / Shashinkan

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Shashinkan (English: The Portrait Studio) is a 2013 animated short by Takashi Nakamura and released by Studio Colorido about a photography studio in 20th century Japan, centered around a photographer and little girl who never seems to smile.
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The story starts with a young couple visiting the studio; however, the wife is so shy that she doesn't look at the camera. The photographer gets her to smile by having her pose with lilies. A year later, the wife brings their daughter, who's a Perpetual Frowner, and the photographer does everything to get her to smile - but she never does. Throughout the years, whenever the girl visits, he tries to get her to smile.

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Tropes for Shashinkan:

  • Bittersweet Ending: By the time the Girl does smile, it's when she and the Photographer are in their old age taking a picture together
  • Blush Stickers: The Photographer has these, possibly to emphasize how cheerful he is. The only time he doesn't have these is when he's handing the Girl a portrait of her deceased son. The Girl also has these, probably as a contrast to her frown, though she loses hers later in the short.
  • Eyes Always Shut: The Photographer in his old age.
  • Friend to All Children: The Photographer, even if the Girl doesn't smile that much. As we find out later in the short, he has a variety of toys and tricks to help his young clients smile.
  • Hairstyle Inertia: The Girl and the Photographer keep their respective hairstyles as time goes on.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: The Photographer and the Girl, with this friendship begining when he was a young man and she was a young child. Even though she doesn't look it, the Girl is definitely fond enough of the Photographer to keep visiting him.
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  • Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: One of the few anime examples, as the short is told without any dialogue or even sound effects in some shots, only what the characters are doing and the music.
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: The Photographer later in the short, though this is downplayed, as he's shown to be hunchbacked (or always has that stance), so he'd look shorter than the Girl is in her old age.
  • Nice Guy: From what we can see, the Photographer is this trope, being patient with his young client, even if her lack of smile makes him feel a little sad. He really just wants to see people happy.
  • No Name Given: If the Photographer and the Girl have names, they aren't in the short itself.
  • Perpetual Frowner: The Girl. She's been like that since she was little. In most of her photos by the Photographer, she's never smiling and still has the same serious expression. Interestingly, when she takes a picture with her son, he's smiling but she isn't.
  • Short Film: The film is about 16:46 long.
  • When She Smiles: Much of the short is the Photographer trying to encourage this. When the Girl finally does smile for the camera, it's a heartwarming moment.
  • World War II: The middle parts of the short happen around World War II. By that point, the Girl is a wife and mother. Later on, at some point, her son is KIA.
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