In 2006, Yasuhiro Yoshiura released Pale Cocoon, a 23-minute OVA. The lives of Ura and Riko, two employees of the Archive Excavation Department, are chronicled in this one-off anime. The colony was built underground to safeguard the human race after Earth's population explosion and lack of environmental protection caused it to decline. Ura and Riko are charged with finding lost records from the past in an effort to comprehend what went wrong hundreds of years ago. While Ura goes above and beyond what is required of him, his coworkers are dissatisfied with their jobs and don't see the value in examining the folly of their forebears.
Pale Cocoon predicts what might happen to humanity if current trends continue, like many of Yoshiura's other works. Each character experiences an existential crisis during which they become perplexed by the mysteries of the universe and unsure of their place in it. Although there are signs of hope for humanity's future, the situation they are in right now is still dire. Stuck inside a makeshift prison made of metal grates and exposed wires, Pale Cocoon warns its viewers that if humans continue to move forward with reckless abandon, everything they cherish will decay, turn to rubble, and fade from memory.
In Pale Cocoon, Humanity is facing an existential crisis
Many of those who have been imprisoned in the artificial colony appears to have a history of depression. There aren't any living things, animals, or colored things. Rather, wiring, metal greys, and neon green screens are all over the building. Each hallway and room is chilly, dark, and empty, with only a small amount of life remaining there—if it does at all. There doesn't seem to be anyone else who cares about the past and harbors any optimism for humanity's future.
The other employees who work with Riko and Ura believe that their efforts to unearth Earth's artifacts are pointless because they have not been able to improve the well-being of those who are currently alive. Humanity is on the verge of extinction, and most people are focused on getting by rather than actively seeking solutions. The only light that stays on is Ura's optimism.
Viewers are led down a path where they learn that not everything is as it seems through Ura's sense of curiosity. Residents of the artificial colony have been told they are living underground because Earth's atmosphere has been unhealthy for decades (if not centuries). However, Ura learns that he is farther away from Earth's surface than he had thought after discovering a record of Yoko Yamaguchi, one of the facility's original occupants.
The colony, known as the "Sea of Tranquility," is situated on the moon, and the "rust-colored Earth" that humanity once fled from has since been transformed into its ideal blue. Both Ura and Riko experience a moment of clarity in which they both come to the realization that the reality they had been inhabiting had been a lie and discover the hope that humanity has been seeking for a very long time.
Pale Cocoon Examines Environmental Disaster and Overpopulation
Yoshiura focused on how humans are affecting the environment in Pale Cocoon, much like she warned against humanity's fascination with artificial intelligence in Time of Eve and Aquatic Language. While there was no doubt that the colony's forefathers advanced technologically, it appeared that they were either unable or unwilling to take the necessary precautions to protect Earth and the creatures who called it home. It's terrifying to consider this disaster, but what's even scarier is that colony residents appear doomed to repeat their mistakes.
Everyone else believes that knowing about past events brings only sadness, whereas Ura is passionate about and understands them. Members of the colony have become ignorant as a result of their dissatisfaction with the present and fear of the past. Although the prospect of a new Earth may briefly inspire hope, Yoshiura ostensibly emphasizes humanity's lack of vision. Ura's shock and fear at what he has learned may be due not only to a shift in his perception of reality but also to his realization that the cycle of extinction for his species will repeat itself.