We've all experienced that three o'clock energy withdrawal, where keeping your eyes open for 20 more minutes feels harder than running a full-on marathon. You're not trying to be rude—the teacher might even be lecturing about something interesting; that isn't stopping gravity from pulling your head to the ground faster than a pile of bricks. This universal struggle to stay awake is captured perfectly in Afternoon Class, a new animated short by Korean illustrator and filmmaker Seoro Oh. The four-minute film follows the plight of one young student as he fights to keep himself from drooling on his desk in a classroom full of similarly sleepy peers. As our protagonist falls further into delirium his head begins to turn into amusingly heavy objects like a bowling ball and a giant hammer. He quickly decides to stab himself in the leg with his pencil just in time catch eyes and share a smile with his teacher. Then come the hallucinations. The boy falls briskly into a deep sleep along with the rest of the class.
Afternoon Class is Seoro Oh's graduation film from an intensive course in animation South Korea's Chungkang College of Cultural Industries. In a short description of the film for the 18th Annual Animation Show of Shows, the filmmaker writes, "When I had an afternoon class in school, I used to try to keep from nodding off by shaking my head, which felt much heavier than normal. It was so funny that, while other friends slept comfortably, I would fight against my drowsiness. I wanted to create a funny animation that captured both how sweet the drowsiness is and how hard it is to overcome. I used the fantasy elements in the film to help convey the subjective feelings and add humor to the narrative. Although Afternoon Class is based on my own experience, you may find it familiar." See for yourself in the video below:
Afternoon Class won the Special Jury Prize in the student competition at the Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival, as well as a Jury Special Mention from Animafest Zagreb. Check out more work by Seoro Oh on his website, and be sure to follow him on Instagram.