A cute kiwi bird travels the land and discovers bright gold nuggets. Quickly, Kiwi becomes addicted to the nuggets and falls into despair while consuming more and more nuggets. Can he reign in his addiction?
Nuggets could be one of the most powerful and important animated cartoons ever produced. It was created by German animator Andreas Hykade and has won several prizes since its release in 2014. While short, the cartoon is a clear allegory for addiction that anyone will understand. Here the substance is jelly-like gold nuggets, but it could be anything else someone gets addicted to. The ending is bleak, and Kiwi can either choose to continue or to stop. This animation has been shown in many schools and drug prevention programs since its release. Its emotional impact is enormous. While psychologists and social workers may find this brief cartoon an oversimplification of real-world problems, this is exactly why animation works and why Nuggets is so powerful and evocative.
The animation is simple 2D with basic figures. Notice the pear-shaped Kiwi whose form is like Disney’s Mickey Mouse. Thus, Nuggets works so well for most audiences. Kiwi is cute and adorable, but quickly transforms into a bean, and then a more grotesque form affected by his addiction to nuggets. The only colour in this cartoon is in the nuggets and the psychedelic effect thy produce on Kiwi. The sense of timing is incredible in this toon, as we see how Kiwi anticipates his next dose of nuggets and celebrate his high, while reeling from his lows. The music and sound effects by Heike Maile solidify Kiwi’s bleak adventure, at first giving us hope, but slowly depicting the burden he faces with every action.