The Consulting Room is anime in its most abstract form


Consultation room (shinsatsu-shitsu) is an eight-minute short film directed by Kei Oyama about a man being told about his medical diagnosis. Upon hearing the bad news, a wave of traumatic fantasies begin to wash over the patient, resulting in a series of disturbing psychedelic sequences.

The short film manages to capture a snapshot of when panic and fear set in when someone is diagnosed with an illness. The sequence of greyish, moving pencil-like drawings captures a stark and twisted image of how life can suddenly become death. Although the narrative and themes of Oyama’s work are relatively unclear, it manages to paint an interesting set of images that will leave viewers guessing at their true meaning and the intent behind them.

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Plot of the consultation room

The plot of Consultation room is probably Oyama’s most abstract work. While animated shorts such as Yukidoke and hand soap are very interpretive and sometimes difficult to understand, they still manage to retain some semblance of structure. Consultation room has a similar lack of dialogue to those shorts, but it also provides far less context about what’s going on. After only a minute of viewing a man sitting in a doctor’s office, viewers are plunged into a chaotic spiral of strange and disturbing images that initially appear almost randomly.

Immersed in a first-person perspective, the audience now sees the waiting room outside the doctor’s office. The interior is sparse and filled with little life apart from a small child and a nurse. While examining the patient, the nurse gurgles and growls demonically; his face is gaunt and more monstrous than he is human. While caring for a woman coughing frantically in an adjacent room, the protagonist sees three children staring out the window whose faces are just as gruesome as the nurse’s.

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As the patient is healed again, static begins to buzz across the screen and the scene changes abruptly. A headless obese woman’s body sits in a curtained room and slowly begins to rot. When bloodstains begin to appear on the woman, she begins to spin quickly in the chair. This causes blood to splatter everywhere until the camera is completely covered and viewers are once again transported to another location.

The next scene is perhaps the most important in the entire short, as it provides a potential explanation for how the protagonist ended up in the consulting room. As part of a theatrical production, a man walks his dog who urinates nonchalantly on a tree. A ball then travels across the stage, causing the man to signal to an unseen party that he will throw it back at him. However, after that, he cowers in pain and shows signs that his discomfort is coming from his groin. Shortly after, the scene returns to the doctor’s office where the short began.

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What is the meaning of the consultation room?

Consultation room could just be a simple story about a man who pulled a muscle in his groin after kicking a ball while walking his dog. In this case, the sinister twists and turns that follow from this point on are just the manifestation of this man’s fears. Not knowing if the doctor will be able to solve his pain, he begins to imagine horrible faces and depictions of horror that express his current mood. The harshness of these scenes does not reflect the severity of his illness, but rather makes the audience realize how much doubt can take hold of a person’s mind and change their reality.

The theatrical production that takes place in this short perhaps signals that this work is a black comedy rather than a creation of pure horror. The laughter emanating from the crowd, while grim, seems to reveal that the incident that led to this man’s injury was not a life-or-death incident but an unfortunate accident. Grim faces and laughter were potentially employed by Oyama to express the patient’s embarrassment at the situation. The fantasies he experiences are an effort to make his condition worse than it actually is so he can feel better about this rather amusing event.

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However, it’s hard to escape the impossibly dark tone of this short film and the sense of despair it instills in all who watch. The mannerisms of doctor and patient suggest that it is not just a pulled muscle or some other trivial condition, but a more serious illness. The fantasies that man experiences are largely symbolic of death and the suffering it can cause. Although Oyama may have included elements of “humor”, it’s unlikely anyone will laugh.

Instead, it seems to be the director’s way of informing viewers that life is a cruel joke. One minute a person can be in the park walking their dog and the next they are faced with the reality that they don’t have long to live. Like many of Oyama’s works, this animation focuses on the dark side of existence and its weakness. Whereas Consultation room might not exactly be the best-executed or even the most enjoyable short, it certainly provides enough material to keep people guessing and questioning a thing or two about how life works.


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