When you see pro-LGBTQIA+ works coming about, especially ones that are beautiful, it’s cause to celebrate. For our Kickstarter spotlight this month, we’re pleased to bring you one which celebrates love across all spectrums … and species.

“The Lovers” is an animated short that’s currently live on Kickstarter with a goal of attaining $60,000 by June 23rd. The animation takes place in a dark fantasy version of the Philippines, against the backdrop of a family’s crumbling restaurant business that in the past has served exotic fare to notable people. Sara Lim Baylon has inherited her family’s restaurant, though it does not appear to be what she wanted to do with her life. Still, she feels the weight of her family’s expectations on her shoulders and is determined to do her best come what may…that is, until she meets the main course, Sirena, and falls in love.

This has definite enemies-to-lovers vibes, as one of the love interests is starting out on the dinner menu for the other! I don’t think I’ve been this keen on a romance of this nature since Hannibal ended a few years ago (RIP, my sweet princes). I’m eager to see if Sara gives up on love in order to fulfill her family’s wishes, and if not … what sort of life can she make with the mer-creature, Sirena? Personally, I’m hoping for a happy ending ala The Shape of Water.

Take a peek at their trailer and the lavish detail of the artwork, and you can understand why I was biting my fingernails in fear that this LGBTQIA+ lovestory might never see the light of day. There were times I confess I was absolutely sick with worry. My friends … as of this article, they have already surpassed their goal and are sitting at $295,251!

Studio Heartbreak is a small, indie-company of twenty-somethings that is internet-based. I feel particularly kindly towards them because they started their company when the original two members were rejected from every art internship they applied for, so, lacking work, they decided to create their own jobs (in so many ways, this echoes my own trajectory with writing). They’ve since added teammates who have worked at studios Powerhouse, Pierrot, Mappa Studio, and The Line, and even been part of animating such well-known pieces as Attack on Titan, Legend of Pipi, Chiaki’s Journey, and Boruto.

This is Studio Heartbreak’s first animated short, but I predict many, many more amazing works from them in the future.

[Written by Ashley Nicole Hunter.]

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