ONA Kinrakuen questions the morality of money in the modern world

The Kinrakuen (金楽園) is an independent computer-animated short film by Daisuke Hagiwara. The five-minute film explores the meaning of money in modern society and its impact on people. Through a series of moving images and a hypnotic score, Hagiwara attempts to understand how people became consumed by these pieces of paper.

While the director clearly wishes to demonstrate the negative consequences of money on the human soul, The Kinrakuen strangely manages to act as an ode to the artistic merits of various currencies around the world.

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Kinrakuen sheds light on the chaos behind money exchanges

The short opens by showing two lions guarding a lone zero. The number acts as a portal from which the rest of the film is shown, and is perhaps a symbolic reference to modern life being a zero-sum game. Of The KinrakuenHagiwara attempts to highlight how global economies often result in a benefit for one side and an equivalent loss for another, leading to zero net improvements in the overall economic landscape.

Numbers, currencies and financial symbols of different colors and sizes scroll across the screen to the sound of Indian music created by Morning Set. In these scenes, Hagiwara noted that he wanted to reflect on “the concept of reincarnation”, in which money constantly changes hands, forms and purposes to create a more “comfortable” society. However, through these exchanges comes “social chaos” in which people continue the cycles of war, greed, and control to dominate the people and places around them, rather than liberating them.

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The Kinrakuen uses real world leaders to show the inequality of society

Interestingly, the only humans depicted throughout the work are those who have been immortalized on paper currencies, while the workers and soldiers trapped in this digital society are represented by animals. A series of pigs, sheep, goats and horses line the paper streets, holding a number in their hands as they come and go to work. As they step through a gate, huge skyscrapers rise from their labors and allow a militarized monster – whose head is an amalgam of Queen Elizabeth, Benjamin Franklin and other world leaders – to tower over them. .

From the moment we are born into modern society, we are assigned symbols and numbers, including nationality and family register, and we live under the control of the country and the government. However, as a disease without subjective symptoms, we are rarely aware of it. People create money to make it easier to understand the value of things. However, at some point, this piece of paper hid magical power, and now it has come to overpower even the people who created it. How much time do people spend on money? No matter how much you earn and how much you accumulate, human desires never end. Once that piece of paper has taken hold, people’s morals plummet and they don’t mind going to war. -Daisuke Hagiwara

Once the trumpets of war have sounded, the workers are converted into soldiers who trudge from their buildings to obey the orders of their masters. In subsequent scenes, Hagiwara reinforces the impersonal nature of war and how its purpose, no matter what might be hinted at on the surface, is for the financial benefit of a powerful few. If the people of this society weren’t already dehumanized by their animal characteristics, as soldiers they are now shown to have serial numbers hanging over their heads in which they have little value outside to be an instrument of war.

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As a soldier dies, his soul – represented by a zero – slowly rises through the air until it fits perfectly between a two and another zero to form the number 200. Rather than this person’s death being portrayed as a tragedy, it is instead portrayed as adding value to society. Like any tool, the soldier was used and, having served its purpose, was destroyed in the process – a simple consequence of the system around it.

While Daisuke Hagiwara The Kinrakuen has no dialogue or clear narrative structure, its mix of hypnotic music and animation creates a disturbing yet enchanting feeling that is likely to keep audiences captivated. The short’s social commentary, which would have been incredibly timely during the 2008 recession, has once again surfaced in popular conversation as more and more people try to weather the tough times that seem to be ahead.

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