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Western Animation / Manipulation

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Manipulation is a 1991 animated short film from Britain, written and directed by Daniel Greaves.

An animator draws a head on his piece of paper, but finds it unsatisfactory and flicks it away—notably, the drawn head slides across the surface of the paper. The animator then draws a body minus head, finds that unsatisfactory as well, and flicks it away, the body again sliding over the paper. The animator then spills some red ink on the paper, whereupon he quits in frustration.

Back on the page, however, the head and the body have joined up to form a little cartoon man. The cartoon man has fun with his environment, especially when he finds the blob of ink and does stuff like color himself red by drinking up the ink with a straw. Unfortunately for the cartoon man, the animator notices, returns to his drawing, and begins to mess with the man in a variety of ways.

Compare Duck Amuck, a very famous Daffy Duck cartoon that had a similar premise of an animator interacting with their cartoon.


  • Author Powers: Much like in the classic Duck Amuck, the animator finds increasingly inventive ways to screw with the cartoon man on the page. At one point the animator grabs the sides of the cartoon man and pulls, making the man look like a balloon. Then the animator pops the man, causing him to fly about the page like a balloon deflating.
  • Line Boil: Happens when individual hand-drawn characters are photographed a frame at a time.
  • Medium Awareness: The cartoon man is acutely aware that an animator is screwing with him.
  • Medium Blending: There's traditional animation for the man on the page. There's stop motion animation for when the man does stuff like mangle or fold the paper. There's "pixilation", which is a sub-category of stop motion involving live-action elements being photographed along with animated elements. And there are live-action shots of the artist's studio and his desk.
  • Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: No dialogue.
  • Rage Against the Author: The cartoon man gets pretty angry with the animator, yelling at him from the paper, attempting to escape by cutting a hole in the paper and climbing to the sheet below, and finally exploding into a firework of rage.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: Most of the second half of the cartoon involves the animator's hands, in live action, interacting with the cartoon man on the page. The film ends with the animator throwing the piece of paper with the cartoon man on it in the garbage, only for the cartoon man to climb out.
  • Stop Motion: Some of the film employs traditional stop motion animation, like when the cartoon man is mangling the paper or cutting a hole in the paper so he can get out. The film also employs pixilation to animate the cartoonist's hand interacting with his drawing.