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With character design and a visual style worthy of a Disney production, when we were introduced to this short animation by the staff at our sister site RocketNews24 Japan, we almost didn’t believe them when they said it was made not by a world-famous animation studio but by students of the National Taiwan University of Arts. Half an hour of replays later, we managed to tear ourselves away from the video just long enough to share it with you, our dear readers, too!

It’s cute, it’s emotive, and it’s absolutely gorgeous; this is Deathigner.

The animation was created by members of the university’s Department of Multimedia and Animation Arts during their third and fourth years of study, putting the finishing touches to it in time for graduation. Translated as Deathigner: Death God Training Group, the piece tells the story of the son (daughter?) of Death himself attending a small school situated in the westernmost corner of the Bermuda Triangle, where he must compete against his peers and learn the skills necessary to become a professional collector of souls. Death Jr. however, would rather put his energy into knitting and crafts than slicing off bunnies’ heads, and is seemingly a constant source of embarrassment for mustachioed Daddy Death, with animation favourites like the “d’oh” facepalm making a welcome appearance.

▼ It’s not easy learning to be death…

death lesson 1

The quality of the animation and storytelling here, though, that has been blowing people away all over Asia this past weekend, with many quite rightly suggesting that the students’ work is easily on par with the kind of thing big-name studios are producing and charging top dollar for.

Netizens positively exploded with love for the video, commenting:

“I’ve watched this thing four times already!”

“Make the next episode!!! This really has to become a series!”

“This is absolutely superb. I never knew there was such talent in Taiwan!”

“This really moved me. If anyone ever wanted proof of Taiwanese creativity and talent, here it is.”

“Me too–it brought me to tears. I feel so proud to be Taiwanese right now.”

“So cute and so moving–this just made me cry. You guys are incredible!”

It’s not just the online community that’s heaping praise on the group’s work though; Deathigner was even awarded the silver prize in a recent digital art exhibition that focuses on new, promising talent. If this is the kind of thing that comes in second place, we can’t even begin to imagine the quality of the piece awarded the gold prize!

But enough of our rambling! It’s time to see the animation in action! So draw those curtains, turn up your speakers and settle in. It’s Deathigner time.

Okay, by a show of hands, who would like to see this turned into a mini series? Thought so. Alas, the makers have suggested that it might not be as simple as all that.

“Making a follow-up might be difficult,” a spokesperson for the group behind Deathigner commented, “but we’re doing our very best to find a sponsor!” Of course, no longer in full-time education and able to focus on their work purely for the love of it, the team now have to earn a living, so any subsequent sequels will cost money. Hopefully someone will come along to lend a helping hand soon. That or the group upload their short film to a site like Kickstarter and ask people like us to fund a follow-up production. I know we’d be prepared to send a few dollars their way, if only for the chance to get our hands on some cute merchandise as an incentive!

We’ll leave you now with the trailer for animation to tempt your friends with. Be sure to spread the word of the awesomeness that it Deathigner!

Oh, okay, and here’s a little “making of” video. We’re too good to you sometimes!

[ Read in Japanese ]