Yes, “Dear Alice” is actually an animated commercial for Chobani yogurt. But all capitalism and commercialism aside, it’s also a beautiful encapsulation of solarpunk, i.e., a subgenre of sci-fi that emphasizes a future where humanity has developed a sustainable and environmentally friendly civilization. (Becky Chambers’ delightful Monk & Robot novellas are a great introduction to the subgenre.)
Solarpunk isn’t as sexy or thrilling as, say, cyberpunk. But it also doesn’t feature technological threats, horrific body modifications, ruthless megacorporations, and terrible living conditions. As one commenter posted on a “decommodified” version of Chobani’s video, steampunk is “the world you go to for the style,” cyberpunk is “the world you go to for the action,” and solarpunk is “the world you actually want to live in for a happy life.”
And indeed, life depicted in “Dear Alice” looks pretty happy as cows rest amidst solar panels, a farmer uses advanced technology to bring rain to her crops, kids take a flying school bus to a city filled with greenspace, and everyone enjoys fresh meals (with lots of yogurt, of course) in a verdant environment as robots zip around. The animation and artwork are all lovely, and obviously indebted to Studio Ghibli, with Joe Hisaishi’s lovely score further cementing the bucolic vibe.
“Dear Alice” was produced by The Line, a London-based animation studio that’s also produced commercial work for The Great British Bake Off, Mercedes Benz, and League of Legends as well as their own original work like Hypervoltaic Chronicles and Super Turbo Atomic Ninja Rabbit.