This is an animation I created in Blender 2.8 beta (specifically blender-2.80-741f80864e79-linux-glibc217-x86_64).
The animation was rendered using Eevee just to see how translucency works. I also used an animated collection as a hair particle instance, and bendy bones.
This is a wireframe view of the original collection:
The animated arms are simply a sphere with a couple of array modifiers controlled by empties.
Each of the 1600 frames took from 3.5 to 4.1 seconds to render at 1280 x 720, depending on how close the camera was to the object. As a test, I reduced the number of particle instances from 12 to 1, and the render time dropped to 1 second. I would have preferred to use a higher density mesh for the bending central column, but that made the render time increase dramatically.
I found it difficult to get Ambient Occlusion to work well in this scene. Anything but the slightest amount resulted in ugly blocky areas of shadow. Also, setting the ‘Bent Normals’ option in the Ambient Occlusion settings caused a strange effect that made the shadow area become white :
The limiting factor for the render appeared to be my gpu’s processing speed. Only one cpu core was used by Blender during the render, and my gpu still had lots of memory to spare: