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Learn from the Animals – Lessons in Life and the Cello

Only have an hour to spare but want to watch a cello movie? Love anime? This beautiful, 1-hour film is free to watch on YouTube.*

Cellist Gauche and the visiting cat. Screenshot from Cello Hiki no Gauche. Copyright by production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

Cellist Gauche and the visiting cat. Screenshot from Cello Hiki no Gauche. Copyright by the production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

Cello Hiki no Gauche

Today’s cello movie is a Japanese anime film from 1982, called Cello Hiki no Gauche, based on a short story by Kenji Miyazawa.

There have been a number of film adaptations of this story (1949, 1953, and 1963). Isao Takahata directed this version and wrote the screen adaptation. Oh! Production animated the film.

He Learns from the Animals

Cellist Gauche and the visiting mice. Screenshot from Cello Hiki no Gauche. Copyright by production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

Cellist Gauche and the visiting mice. Screenshot from Cello Hiki no Gauche. Copyright by the production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

Gauche the cellist plays in a theater orchestra and lives in an old mill outside of town. The movie opens with the conductor berating Gauche for making mistakes in his part.

When he goes home to practice, every night a different animal visits him. At first, the animals irritate him but ultimately they teach him about music and life. Gauche learns about interacting with others as well as about music.

He’s harsh with the cat, his first visitor, but as he gains more experience with different animals (as well as with different aspects of music), Gauche treats the animals with more respect and sympathy. At the same time, the animals teach Gauche about music and about playing with other musicians.

Gauche learns from the cuckoo. Copyright by production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

Gauche learns from the cuckoo. Screenshot from Cello Hiki no Gauche. Copyright by the production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

A Duet with a Tanuki

One of our favorite scenes depicts the evening where a tanuki (a Japanese raccoon dog) teaches Gauche how to play his part in time with other musicians.

The polite little tanuki arrives and says he wants to learn from Gauche. In the end, the roles are reversed and the tanuki teaches Gauche instead.

The two practice a duet on Gauche’s cello – the tanuki beating on the instrument with his mallets. They appear to enjoy making music together. One can almost feel the beating of the tanuki’s mallets!

Gauche Learns from the Tanuki. GIF from Cello Hiki no Gauche. Copyright by production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

Gauche Learns from the Tanuki. GIF from Cello Hiki no Gauche. Copyright by the production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

Cello Lessons IRL

The cello animation is beautifully done. While the cello set-up is not standard – the bridge is placed very high in relation to the f-holes, the animated cello technique is very detailed.

The lead animator, Shunji Saida, took cello lessons so that he could accurately depict Gauche’s cello playing. Saida’s attention to detail shows.

This beautiful, 1-hour anime cello movie took Saida and his team six years to create.

Short clip of Gauche playing the cello.

Gauche playing the cello. GIF from Cello Hiki no Gauche. Copyright by the production studio and/or distributor. Intended for editorial use only.

Want to read the book?

The film closely follows Miyazawa’s original short story. For those who don’t read Japanese, here is an English version included in a collection of his short stories:  Once and Forever: The Tales of Kenji Miyazawa, translated by John Bester.

Here’s another English version. This one is a simplified picture book for children that includes four other stories and comes with an audio CD of readings by actors accompanied by music.

Although we would have preferred real strings to the synthesized string sound on the CD, particularly in the part of the story with the orchestra, the recording is well done. Very young English speakers will enjoy this shortened version of the story and its illustrations.

Where to Find the Film

At the time of publication of this article, the film is available for free* on YouTube in the USA, and we hope it is free to view in other locations as well. We found it on Amazon as Gauche the Cellist on DVD and Blu-ray at a premium price.

Here is the full movie on YouTube:


We hope this cello movie gives you an enjoyable short break from your regular schedule. This is a fun film for cellists young and old.

Your Turn

What are your favorite cello movies? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter.



* Unfortunately, we cannot test viewing options from other regions, and YouTube videos come and go. Be sure to check DVD viewing formats in your area before purchasing.
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