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Anime Discovery: Genius Party + Genius Party Beyond
Not known to many anime aficionados mainly because there isn’t an English translation, which can make it harder to know about what they’re going through, both of these pieces come from Studio 4°C, who previously known for works like The Animatrix (“Kid’s Story”), Batman: Gotham Knight (“Have I Got A Story For You”, “Working Through Pain”) Transformers Animated, Thundercats ’11 and another movie that I’m going to review after this one.
This is going to be a break for the norm, since Genius Party & Genius Party Beyond is a collection of short 12 anime films (7 from Genius Party, 5 from GP Beyond) from unknown to well-known anime directors; I’m going to break down each and every short one by one.
Let’s start with the shorts of Genius Party:
Genius Party: While this is just the 5-minute opening that has a hand-puppet chicken and smiling rock heads, this is, in fact, a very strange and surreal opening to what is already considered to be fitted under the surreal category in anime and it is very impressive to look and be at awe.
Shanghai Dragon: At first, you wonder why this is about some snot-nosed kid (no, really, he has a very snot-ridden nose and never bothers to wipe it out) discovering this magical crystal that you draw food with and then, ALIEN INVASION!!! GIANT MECHAS!!! TOTAL COMBAT!!! Everything has just thrown into that situation and the results match as a pass (as in succeed). Also, most of the characters have made me change my mind about them in a flash and it was enjoyable and a bit crazy to watch.
Deathic 4: Aside from the impressive 3D animation and to live in the world of zombies (and being one), there isn’t much of a story around there, just crazy and goofy antics, which are okay but it didn’t leave it wanting more. In fact, I’ve gotten bored with that segment.
Doorbell: This is one of those pieces that show an example of paranoia and mind-altering animation where a high school boy is wondering why is there another version of him cycling through his daily life. This one is where I’m very amused by this concept and it’s weird and hard to explain results at the end.
Limit Cycle: As all anime fans should know, philosophy has always been a factor into anime and a 20-minute monologue going through that with the subjects of life, death, and religion and asking and answering any question about that. Once again, anime pieces like this should be watched more than one time to understand the point of the subject in order to expand your mind around the basic ideals of your own self and what is around you. But should it last over 20 minutes, which is half the time of what during the last two episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion try to explain? That’s a maybe.
Happy Machine: This is possibility more surreal than its other counterparts of the collection. It follows a baby exploring through some odd stages, befriending a fiery flame (briefly), a caterpillar-like giraffe and a green dog and also experiencing loss whenever something bad happens to them. I would say this is a head-scratcher but that would be redundant considering most of the shorts I covered so far is a head-scratcher.
Baby Blue: Now to the one from Shinichiro Watanabe, the famed director of two of my favorite anime, Cowboy Bebop & Samurai Champloo. This is a high school romance piece about two people who enjoyed their night of love and maturing into adults with a bit of action thrown in, which is very dissonant of the previous Watanabe works and it shows and hopefully it could again with his upcoming series, Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope). Overall, this is an unusual turn for him and it was remarkably well-crafted.
Time to go BEYOND…….
Gala: From director Mahiro Maeda of GONZO, this is set up more of a music video (although better than current music videos) when a meteorite crashes upon a village and the only way to keep it under control is to perform music or soothe it. The music itself drives the energy and life in this anime because everything else wasn’t helping at all, but it doesn’t mean it was bad. It was just the usual animation and art-style of this short.
Moondrive: Kazuto Nazakawa, known for work in Samurai Champloo, The Animatrix and director of the anime sequence in Kill Bill, Vol. 1 directed this short about delinquents on a search for treasure on a colonized moon. There’s a mix of art style of Japanese conceptual art and of artist Sylvain Chomet and the end results into a slightly solid addition of the compilation of shorts.
Wanwa the Doggy: When you were a little kid, did you ever wonder about anything you dream you want to experience yourself and then thought, “What the hell were you dreaming?” This piece by Shinya Ohira (does key animation for Studio Ghibli & Gainax) absolutely says that for you and it is full of unique and interesting visuals with its chalk-based art style.
Toujin Kit: The phrase, “Now that’s just plain damn weird” does apply to the short here. A young girl is under the suspicion for breeding squid-like organisms inside stuffed animals and when it’s revealed, you’ll keep asking questions about this but I don’t think you will get an answer. This has got a good cyberpunk setting and the semi-ominous greyish color scheme fits it all. Is this worth watching? Actually; yes, it is.
Dimension Bomb: The final entry from Koji Morimoto and my words about it are this: WOW!! Most of the time, I had no idea what was going on and was trying to piece it together but I couldn’t try to focus them altogether…..unless this was supposed to play off as an unfocused dream and in that case, it works.
FINAL VERDICT: Both entries of GP and GP Beyond are in fact, visual marvel fests that can explore deeper within our psyches and our imaginations combined. The two things can could confused me was sometimes I wasn’t completely aware of what they are talking about and it’s harder to understand with there being no translation but I think it wasn’t broad enough for audiences to earn it. However, this is something that is meant to be appreciated for their work.
Genius Party & Genius Party Beyond gets the rating of:
8.5/10 - High Solid B.
Until then, I’m MAK2.0 aka HybridMedia, bringing all the elements in one format.
GENIUS PARTY & GENIUS PARTY BEYOND – courtesy of Studio 4°C.
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