Director: Chang Hyung-yun
Starring: Choi Do-young, Cho Don-yong, Lee Jin-suk
Coffee Samurai is a short one-off animation from Korea that features a reincarnated swordsman from the past named Jin Young-young who finds himself in the modern day as a coffee vending machine. Through a series of events, he ends up in a curious friendship/romance with the ditzy Hae-mi. Awkward relationships aside, he occasionally meets with other oddly reincarnated past opponents for a duel or so. As he comes to grips this strange time he has found himself in, Jin inadvertently gets Hae-mi involved.
A uniquely Korean animation, the film certainly succeeds in its cutesy/quirky approach. Animation is fluid and though character designs are simple, there is a lot of life in these characters. Of note is how glad it made me to see quality 2D hand-drawn animation again. With all the advances in CG art, it was refreshing to see an animation reminiscent of 80’s and 90’s art, when I developed my appreciation for the art form. There is actually only a little bit of music, with nice catchy vocal used about midway through. Some incidental music aside, the film plays it safe in its presentation. Voice acting is decent and it reminded me of inner dialogue sequences in live action Korean cinema.
In the end, I enjoyed Coffee Samurai quite a bit. It is a simply told story that has just the right amount of imagination and oddness to stand out. Though concise in its short running time, I would have enjoyed another 15-20 minutes of their story. In any case, it is a solid and quick diversion that put a smile on my face. While it won’t blow many people away, fans of animation and Korean romantic comedies would do well to give it a view.