Yonna in the Solitary Fortress currently airs on Crunchyroll. The 2006 CGI Anime only runs 33 minutes and 20 seconds.
Visually, Yonna In The Solitary Fortress is somewhere between Shrek 2 and Final Fantasy X-2 in terms of graphics. And considering the fact that this was (including voice actors) a production put together by less than 10 people, that is truthfully stunning. The short was conceived by Kengo Takeuchi, who spared no expense in bringing to life the small cast. Areas that appear stiff are redeemed by incredible amounts of detail in the hair and fabric adorning the characters. If you can look past the dreary, sickly, poor Instagram-filter colors, YITSF is a visual treat.
...... Unfortunately the script leaves much to be desired.
The story of YITSF can be told in less than 30 seconds.
Tiny girl has super powers.
Girl is being raised by older brother.
Townspeople have no idea how to accept tiny girl.
Townspeople react poorly and with violence.
Big Brother locks himself and little sister away in dank fortress.
Years pass, tiny girl is now tween girl.
Tween boy wants to set tween free as per royal orders.
Big brother no like tween boy.
Tween girl sick of both of them.
You would think this would be a more tragic drama, but it really isn't.
We start with a flashback to little Yonna and already adult-aged Stan. Yonna is literally standing in her own backyard, minding her own business. A young boy sees her magic ability, and the next thing you know, the townspeople are throwing a fit, accusing her of cursing people she hasn't even met yet.
Stan rescues her from being pelted with stones, and drags her to a dank fortress, sealing themselves within to keep the townsfolk away.
Over the years, the brother and sister just keep to themselves. Yonna spends all day inside her little stone bedroom, occasionally making ogres, dragons and anything she needs to stop from being mind-numbingly bored. She grows up to be an angsty tween, while Stan becomes extra special protective of her.
Then one day, a cocky tween boy named Galda shows up to enter the fortress. Galda has been hired by the Monarchy.... the same group of royals that a scene earlier wanted this kid killed. Well a few years and a little puberty really work wonders, because now the Monarchy wants Yonna removed from the fortress, so she can use her powers for their benefit.
Of course, Yonna wants no part of this.
But before Galda can contend with Yonna, he has to fight Stan, who over the years has developed an attack where he hurls energy balls at you. Stan spends much of the short film trying to kill Galda.
Galda also has to contend with Piggott, A flying pig-like demonic thing, who has also been hired by the Monarchy. He used to work with Galda, but is now working with Stan to try and get Galda killed.
And then there's Yonna herself. At first, she wants nothing to do with Galda, and even imprisons him. But as the film goes on, she realizes that she has no future being stuck in the fortress, and she slowly turns on Stan. Yonna is full of angst, rude and very frustrated at the world.
But unlike most damsels in a castle, Yonna has no romantic feelings at all for Galda, who comes across as cocky and too self-sure. If you watch the first flashback, you'll figure out that Galda was the kid Yonna scared off when she was little, but this is never tied back into the plot, and trust me, the plot of their non-relationship badly needed this tie-in to flesh the whole thing out.
The film ends with Galda being responsible for the destruction of Stan and Yonna's castle, and Yonna deciding to strike out on her own. This of course after a half-climactic battle and the use of Yonna's powers here and there, for visual effect and little else. Galda laso has to strike it on his own, figuring the Monarchy won't take him back after letting Yonna go free.
The DVD cover actually gives the ending away. That Crunchyroll graphic? Yeah, it's taken right as the tweens are about to go their separate ways.
Stay after the credits and you'll see Yonna, playing with a hologram she made of herself at age 4 for Stan..... which makes no sense, seeing as how it's the only bit of technology she and Stan ever owned. This and Galda's equipment make no sense and do not fit with the medieval look, making this a completely out of context scene.
Much of the film feels medieval, and yet Galda has access to futuristic gadgets and a flying mech. It's like they couldn't figure out what time period to be in. The script feels strained and the characters are not likable people. It's not bad for an art piece, but isn't very strong story-wise.