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Western Animation / Best Friend

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Are you still looking for a better friend?
Now, we can give you the best.
The friend only you can see.
Best Friend.
Never be alone.

Best Friend is an award-winning 2018 animated short film from Gobelins, under the collaborative direction of Yi Shen, David Feliu, Juliana de Lucca, Varun Nair, and Nicholas Olivieri.

Set 20 Minutes into the Future, the story revolves around Arthur, a lonely man currently addicted to a product called "Best Friend" which offers him perfect virtual friends. When he runs out of fuel to sustain the illusion, he's forced to venture out of his tiny apartment for a refill. That's where things take an unexpected, and frightening turn.

The entire 6-minute short can be viewed here on YouTube. A two-part behind-the-scenes making of the short can be watched here and here.


Provides examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The date on Arthur's holographic screen says Dec 15 2032. At the time the film was made, that year was approximately 14 years away.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Despite Arthur's experience with an attacker forcibly stealing his implant which left a nasty scar resembling the ones from said addict, he still decided to get a new implant on the opposite side of his head.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: The short takes place on Arthur's 30th birthday. The festivities screech to a halt when he accidentally steps on his remaining stash of batteries for Best Friend, and goes outside to the recharging station. When he asks Cami for the nearest empty charging station, things really go pear-shaped for him when he gets mugged by a street addict and makes off with his Best Friend after violently extracting it from him.
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  • Broken Smile: Arthur does this at the end after a traumatic encounter with a mugger which led him to getting a new Best Friend installed on his head.
  • Bystander Syndrome: A sadly justified example. Arthur cries out for Cami as the crazy addict forcefully peels off the Best Friend device from his temple. Because she, and the other "best friends", are only virtual and are incapable of physical contact, they can only stand by and watch with hollow smiles on their faces.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: According to the creators, Arthur's appearance was inspired by Buster Keaton.
  • Covered with Scars: The crazed addict has several scars across his forehead when Arthur accidentally knocks off his beanie, all but implied to be due to getting new Best Friends and then forcefully removing them since he couldn't afford to recharge them when they run out of battery.
  • Downer Ending: After getting his implanted chip stolen, Arthur decides to get a new one, this time on the other side of his temple, leaving his other temple deeply scarred. What's more, the scar eerily resembles the scars on the man he encountered in the city, and it's heavily implied he's going down the same path as him.
  • Exhausted Eye Bags: Arthur has double-layered eyebags as part of his default look. It's more a sign of lethargy than literal exhaustion.
  • Eye Scream: In the future, charging one's device implanted on the brain is achieved via dropping battery fluid directly into the eye. The in-universe commercial as well as the logo for Best Friend invokes the act as well.
  • Fair-Weather Friend: A variant in any case. Even if Cami and the other Best Friends want to do something when they witness Arthur getting assaulted and his implant stolen, their holographic status won't be of much help. Either way, Arthur is screwed.
  • Friendless Background: Arthur lives alone with no friends or family in sight, hence his dependence on Best Friend.
  • Hates Being Alone: Arthur's motivation to keep seeking out virtual companionship at the cost of his mental well-being.
  • Here We Go Again!: Arthur gets a brand new chip, continuing the cycle of his addiction to Best Friend.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Arthur's singing when he and his "friends" are celebrating his birthday.
  • Hologram: This is Best Friend's main shtick, advertising itself as giving people "the friend only [they] can see" via holographic projections of different avatars for the user to interact with.
  • Looks Like Cesare: Arthur. He has dark brunet hair which isn't that messy, but his dark undereyes and pale skin has it down to a T. Compared to the page image, he comes off as a modern interpretation of Cesare himself.
  • Neural Implanting: The in-universe advertisement shows that Best Friend is installed via brain implant, leaving a yellow dot on the side of their temple in its wake. As shown in an establishing shot of the city, this has become a common occurrence.
  • Precision F-Strike: Arthur lets out an F-bomb when he realises he's running out of battery and has to go outside to get more. Other than that, the dialogue is rather tame.
  • Projected Man: The Best Friends, technically, but Cami plays this straight as she takes on the form of a Spaceship Girl-esque humanoid.
  • Techno Dystopia: Played With. One of the directors (Yi Shen) has made the conscious decision to portray the near-future as resembling of the late 2010s present. Although Neural Implanting has become so commonplace that almost every individual is seen sporting the same yellow dot on their heads, it's only Arthur and an unnamed attacker that suffers from this new technology due to a lack of self-control which led to addictive behaviour, itself a commentary on humans' over-reliance on new technology such as smartphones. Other people are shown to be still capable of forming normal relationships, such as a couple of friends taking a selfie, a group of people chatting, and a mother with a distracted son.
  • Wham Shot:
    • During a struggle with a crazy addict, Arthur elbows him hard enough to knock his hat off. When the attacker faces him again, he's shown to have many scars on his head as a result of compulsively implanting and extracting Best Friends each time he ran out of juice for them.
    • Near the end, Arthur is nursing the wound he sustained from getting his implant stolen by an addict, and he does so in front of a medicine cabinet's mirror. When he closes the other half of the cabinet, it's then revealed he already has a new chip implanted on the other half of his face as he smiles to himself.
  • Younger than They Look: Arthur just turned 30, but his gaunt appearance makes him look a decade older. It's assumed to be due to his addiction to Best Friend, and whatever substance it uses to recharge it.

...Hey, Arthur