Porter brings ‘Shelter’ to life with an anime

By Sean Reis
Arts & Entertainment Editor

Imagine a world in which only you live. You control your world and each day of your life, you choose to create (or destroy) the world that you desire with a tablet.

In a short film produced with Japanese studio A-1 Pictures and Crunchyroll that was released on Tuesday, Oct. 18, musician and producer Porter Robinson tells a story based on “Shelter” — his latest collaborative single with his close friend and fellow musician Madeon. Told through the perspective of a 17-year-old girl named Rin who lives her life alone, “inside of a futuristic simulation,” the six-minute video follows Robinson’s trend of bringing his emotional electronic music to life through spectacular visuals.

According to the video description, Rin lives “completely by herself in infinite, beautiful loneliness. Each day, Rin awakens in virtual reality and uses a tablet which controls the simulation to create a new, different, beautiful world for herself. Until one day, everything changes, and Rin comes to learn the true origins behind her life inside a simulation.”

Rin looks out at her creation with longing to leave her world of loneliness. (Photo Courtesy of Porter Robinson)
Rin looks out at her creation with longing to leave her world of loneliness. (Photo Courtesy of Porter Robinson)

For the short film that doubles as the song’s official music video, Robinson poured his heart out to create the production, on which he had been secretly working with one of his favorite anime studios, A-1 Pictures, for the past year.

Until “Shelter,” Robinson had not released original music since 2014 when his debut album, “Worlds,” told his tale about an escape from reality, which for Robinson, was an escape achieved through video games. According to Robinson, the last track on the album, “Goodbye To A World,” was written about an atypical notion of an apocalypse: “a beautiful world kind of disappearing in a clean way.”

Though no one knows for sure, fans have theorized that “Goodbye To A World” could be where “Shelter” and Rin’s story begins.

Before the single starts, Rin welcomes viewers to her world with soft-spoken Japanese in her cutesy voice. Her final words before the music begins are, “Nothing changes anymore. This world that belongs only to me, each and every day, continues on. But I’m not lonely. It doesn’t bother me at all.”

However, it is clear to viewers that Rin feels alone, bothered by reading on her tablet that she has not received a message since she first entered the simulation 2,539 days earlier. With a sigh, Rin’s expression shows that she subconsciously dreams to one day be released from her world of loneliness. Though Rin stays strong and does not allow herself to cry, those who can relate to her character cannot help, but shed a tear — the first of many — for the young girl.

As viewers watch Rin create her latest world on her tablet, she appears to be happy, but her facial expressions hint that she longs to return to the life she once lived. Viewers follow Rin as she runs and skips through her creation, but they know the truth — a secret that Rin must know, too, deep down.

It’s a sad day when “everything changes” for Rin and she learns why she has been forced to live out the remainder of her life trapped within a simulation. However, as the memories of her father return to her mind and recreate themselves within her world, Rin knows that he did what was best for her — when Rin was born, there was so little time for her to live before life on Earth began to come to an end.

In a moment of bittersweet beauty, an orchestral version of “Shelter” plays and Rin speaks a childish Japanese tongue one last time: “Even if those memories make me sad, I’ve got to go forward, believing in the future. Even when I realize my loneliness, and am about to lose all hope, those memories make me stronger. I’m not alone… because of you. Thank you.”