Maison en Petits Cubes, La

Original Title: つみきのいえ
Director: Kunio Kato
Screenplay by: Kunio Kato

Tsumiki no Ie, or La Maison en Petits Cubes, is a Japanese animated short, winner of a 2009 Academy Award. It was directed by Kunio Kato, who thanked the Robot Communications company by saying, “Domo arigatou, Mr. Roboto”.

The 12-minute short tells the story of an old man living in a town flooded by water. One day, he wakes up to realize the water level is rising, so he begins building on top of his house, brick after brick until he makes a place almost exactly the same as the one he’s got… only smaller.

The old man moves his things one floor up, and is about to finish moving his furniture, when he accidentally drops his pipe into the water. He thinks he can replace it, but as soon as he realizes there’s no other pipe for him — he sees a diving suit, so he does the same thing everyone would do in his situation… get the diving kit and get the underwater pipe.

Underwater he recovers his dear pipe and uncovers forgotten memories of his wife, children, and his own childhood, all told through his journey to the bottom of the ocean, where once was a town with trees. Some people may see this as a subtle commentary on global warming and what-not, but in reality, what makes Tsumiki no Ie so great is everything else. The animation done in classic 2d with less than perfect coloring gives it textures and a great mood that mixes so well with an excellent soundtrack by Kenji Kondo.

There’s also a rumor saying that there’s another version with narration by Japanese actress Masami Nagasawa, but frankly, I don’t give a damn. This short doesn’t need words to show us any more depth than it already has.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

You can watch La Maison en Petits Cubes on CrunchyRoll.

Ghost Writer

Here. There. Everywhere. Punished soul that usually watches what nobody wants, but sometimes gets lucky.

6 Responses

  1. Amy says:

    Best animated short ever! Okay, maybe not ever… but alongside the best out there ;P Short films are so difficult to watch… only left to watch online – think safest bet is iTunes xD

  2. ZMichael says:

    The narrative line is so well structured and the music guide us in a perfect way that i belive that it no need a narrator.

    This movie is so melancholic, take a look from the perspective from an old man, its a deeply sensation. In a personal opinion, its make me think (and feel) where i gonna be at this age? I will be so lonely as well? Full of memories? XP

  3. From what I can see from the cover art, it’s right there with Les Triplettes de Belleville –no dialogue, all music, sound, and animation. The best films are those that go without words and still have a stronger message than most films that spend decades crafting clever dialogues between characters. I’ll have to see if I can find this and check it out. It looks like my type of film :)

    • yam magazine says:

      @Camiele White, there’s a version for purchase over at, it’s R2 with listed Japanese audio and no subs, but like stated above. There’s no dialog.

      Searched through iTunes, but I don’t think there’s a US distributor for the short.

  1. September 6, 2013

    […] this issue? The Brothers Bloom, Tsumiki no Ie (La Maison en Petits Cubes), Tea Date, Up, and a bunch of blockbuster films – on the music front? […]

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