Genius Party Beyond Review

Animation ProductionStudio 4C

Release Date – February 2008

Genius Party Beyond includes 5 short animated films that where not included in the original Genius Party, a Studio 4C led collaboration with the industry’s top directors and animators.

Dimension Bomb – Directed by Koji Morimoto who in the past also directed Magnetic Rose which was part of the Otomo short story anthology Memories (one of my favourite collection of short films). Sadly nowhere as good and frustratingly abstract despite the cool gritty cityscape imagery.

Gala – Directed by Mahiro Maeda a famous mech designer (Gunbuster, Last Exile, Escaflowne etc.) and animator who in the past also directed Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo. No mechs in this short, taking its cue from the nature motif in Miyazaki films (who Maeda did key animation work on). I didn’t care for this one at all, the art style really put me off.

Moondrive – Directed by Kazuto Nakazawa a noted character designer known for working on El Hazard and Samurai Shamploo. It’s no surprise that the animated short with the most charm, humour and wackiness was done by a character designer. This was my favourite of the bunch with its hand drawn art style and it not being a typical abstract short film. It’s about a ragtag gang on the moon looking for treasure.

Toujin Kit – Directed by Tatsuyuki Tanaka who in the past did Kin Jin Kitto in Studio 4C’s other series of short films Digital Juice. My second favourite out of the bunch about a strange world where a girl is raising alien lifeforms in stuffed animals. I like the art direction the best in this short as it evokes a depressing dystopian environment.

Wanwa the Puppy – Directed by Shinya Ohira a key animator in many of the biggest movies in anime such as Akira, Redline and Studio Ghibli movies. A short about a kid’s dream full of child fantasy imagery of candy, monsters and a puppy.

Overall not as good as the first anthology with only 2 out of the 5 worth watching. Hard to recommend over other anthologies and clearly the left overs that didn’t make it into the first Genius Party release.

Rating – C

Genre – Short Film Anthology

Length – 5 Shorts (Roughly 15 to 20 minutes each) Year – 2008

Halo Legends Review

A compilation of 7 loosely related shorts in the Halo universe by 8 different directors and 6 studios. Like other US and Japan collaborations, such as the Animatrix, Halo Legends aims to tell the definitive back story of Halo universe (overseen by 343 Industries Frank O’Connor) as well as depicting different aspects of the covenant and human conflict.

The breakdown of director and animation studio is:

  • Origins (2 parts) directed by Hideki Futamura and animation production by Studio 4C.
  • The Duel directed by Hiroshi Yamazaki and animation production by Production I.G.
  • Homecoming directed by Koji Sawai and animation production by Bee Train.
  • Prototype directed by Yasushi Muraki and Tomoki Kyoda and animation production by Bones.
  • Odd One Out directed by Daisuke Nishio and animation production by Toei Animation.
  • The Babysitter directed by Toshiyuki Kanno and animation production by Studio 4C.
  • The Package directed by Shinji Aramaki and animation production by Casio Entertainment.

There is a wide range of different animation styles which on the most part are reflective of the studio that produced the short. For example the one done by Toei is in in that simple bright animation style that is reminiscent of Dragon Ball while Studio 4C in “The Babysitter” use their highly detailed realistic style (or in Origins their abstract style). Some of the shorts have a Japanese take on Halo such as in “The Duel” where the Covenant are basically depicted as Samurai but on the most part it sticks to the familiar Halo we know from the games. There is also quite a lot of focus on female spartans while Master Chief only prominently stars in the last short “The Package”.

Out of the 7 my favourite is “The Babysitter” produced by Studio 4C which involves an assasination of a covenant prophet by a Spartan and a small ODST group. This short was around 20 minutes and was paced very well with a complete self contained story. As mentioned before the animation in this is very detailed, especially the architecture of the ruins and looks to be the one with the highest budget.

Out of the directors there are 2 high profile director in Daisuke Nishio and Shinji Aramaki. Daisuke Nishio directed the Dragon Ball series and his short is the only light hearted one and involves a clumsy spartan named 1337. Shinji Aramaki, director of Appleseed, does the only 3D animated short with a studio that hasn’t done anything else of note in anime. Both of these are alright but typical of their style and the anime cliche they popularised.

Overall not much here unless you are a story obsessed Halo fan, there are some decent action scenes but nothing comes close to the CG in the Halo games or amazing commercials for the game. As a Japanese animation fan it is interesting to see how each studio adapted their animation styles but I would say only Studio 4C (in “The Babysitter” not “Origins”) does a good enough of a job that is must see.

Rating – B –

Genre – Action, Science Fiction Length – 120 Minutes Year – 2010

Genius Party Review

Animation Production – Studio 4C

Graphically and thematically diverse collection of shorts of varying quality.

Genius Party screenshot 1

Genius Party – Atsuko Fukushima (Animator) – Dialogue less opener, visually fun to watch.

Genius Party screenshot 2

Shanghai Dragon – Shoji Kawamori (Famed Mech Designer and Escaflowne Creator) – Enjoyable premise, kid finds a device that creates whatever he can draw, giant robots.

Genius Party Screenshot 3

Deathtic 4 – Shinji Kimura (Background Artist and Art Director) –  Zombie kid finds a living frog, world full undead, zombie police (above right).

Genius Party Screenshot 4

Doorbell – Yoji Fukuyama (Manga Artist and Story) – Disappointingly bland.

Genius Party Screenshot 5

Limit Cycle – Hideki Futamura (Animator)- Philosophical monologue, 18 terribly boring minutes, just fast forward through it.

Genius Party Screenshot 6

Happy Machine – Masaaki Yuasa (Kaiba, Mind Game, Kemonozume Director) – Same animation style as kaiba, cute but quickly descends into abstractness.

Genius Party Screenshot 8

Baby Blue – Shinichiro Wantanabe (Cowboy Bebop Director) – Pulls a Makoto Shinkai, guy is about to move to a different town and spends time with childhood friend, bike chase scene pretty awesome.

Overall a decent collection of shorts but none stand out as a must watch.

Rating – B

Available on DVD (86mins)

My Favorite Anime Movies

Akira

Ghost in the Shell Movies

The Girl who Leapt Through Time

Macross Do you Remember Love

Memories

Mokoto Shinkai Movies (The Place Promised in Our Early Days, Voices of a Distant Star, 5 centimeters per second)

Satoshi Kon Movies (Millenium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika, Perfect Blue)

Studio 4C movies (Mind Game, Tekkonkinkreet)

Hayao Miyazaki Movies (My Neighbour Totoro, Porco Rosso, Pricess Mononoke, Spirited Away)

Wing Of Honneamise

Detroit Metal City Review

 

DMC

Animation Production – Studio 4C

Director – Hiroshi Nagahama

This a show that is based on the Detroit Metal City manga which is fairly popular in Japan and has been licenced by Viz. It is about an indie death metal band led by Krauser II. Director Hiroshi Nagahama most notably directed Mushishi, a show everyone should watch. Studio 4C known for their distinctive art style and techniques does the animation production.

The draw of the show is the crazy depiction of a metal band rising from indie obscurity to the top in Japan. Soichi Negichi is the legendary Krauser II despite his opposite musical tastes (Negishi is into swedish pop). The other members of the band are just as bizarre. In the screen cap above Krauser is the one in the middle, the drummer on the left and the other guitarist on the right. 

As you would expect the comedy is the crude vulgar kind. It is however a short series that involves twelve 14 minute episodes. This benefits this show as the comedy doesn’t have time to get old. The animation style is interesting with distinctive character designs and the changes in aspect ratios (wide, 4:3). 

Rating – B +

Genre – Music, Comedy Episodes – 12 (14 minutes each) Year – 2008

Currently not licensed in the US  

Adapted from manga