Well, well... what do we have here...
Neo Tokyo is composed of three short films, each one directed by a giant of the anime industry. Since the works are so different from each other, I will comment them separately n_n.
Labyrinth labyrinthos (also known as Manie-Manie), by Rintaro (he participated in such things like Jungle Taitei, Astro Boy, Petshop of Horrors, X/1999 and many other renowned works).
This is the first short, and the most surreal of the three. LL introduces us to Sachi, a girl that, along her cat Cicerone, is sent to a giant maze, after crossing a clock/mirror/portal/whatever. Once in
this new world, our protagonist will face strange experiences, and the intensity of the unusual is going to rise to uncanny levels... Fortunately, Sachi's going to find a guide: a creepy (really creepy) clown. This enigmatic character will lead her to a safer (?) place...
If after reading the previous paragraph you thought that this short was bizarre, just wait to see the characters. Just to say something, Sachi's pants are so high that they reach her armpits (in what is obviously a hidden tribute to Ed Grimley xD). All the inhabitants of the maze are weird, going from invisible beings to skeletons. The character design is almost cartoonish, being the cat the most detailed one. The rest look a bit too... "curvy" let's say. Anyway, the animation, although weird, is impeccable (this was done in 1987, but it doesn't look old at all).
The voices met the expectations. There's not much of a dialogue to begin with, but they're good. The music is quite unique, featuring classical pieces such as Gymnopédies and Toreador Song by Georges Bizet! (the guy who made Carmen).
Final comment: well, this thing is weird. Without going to the insane, surreal levels of things like Chocolate Panic Picture Show (though, of course, nothing can be that crazy xD), Labyrinth labyrinthos is a picturesque experience that vaguely remind me Alice in Wonderland. At least from my point of view, in this short you are not supposed to find a purpose, or an answer, but rather enjoy the ride. Each step Sachi and Cicerone take, there's a surprise waiting. Whether striking, bizarre or horrifying, we want to know what's next, and what's at the end of the maze. And as a final point, we could say that this short and the other two are slightly connected, despite being three separate works. You'll see why n_n.
Running Man, by Yoshiaki Kawajiri (involved in things like Legend of the Galactic Heroes: My Conquest Is the Sea of Stars, Mirai Shounen Conan, Tetsuwan Birdy and many others).
Luckily, RM is simpler to explain than LL. In a futuristic world, where races to death (kinda similar to the game Wipeout) are the favorite betting event, Zach "Grim Reaper" Hughes is the best competitor, undefeated for almost ten years, and once again is participating with the idea of destroying his rivals. Zach's secret: telekinetic powers, which he use to crush his competitors.
Well, RM is nothing like the others shorts in Neo Tokyo. Here everything is more serious, the character design is more realistic, and deaths, explosion and agony are pretty common here. Visually, is the best thing in this movie/compilation.
The sound, like in the case of LL, is good. There isn't much dialogue, or music, or anything, but that’s the way it's supposed to be.
Final comment: Although this short may sound simple, there are several things to consider. Running Man is not presented in order: is a series of flashbacks interspersed with the present. This can be quite confusing, and it may be necessary to watch it more than once to fully understand what’s happening. Not that the story is complex (quite the opposite, the idea is pretty simple), is just that is set in a disorderly way.
The Order to Stop Construction, by Katsuhiro Otomo (he did Akira. There's nothing else i should say).
In a near future, revolution (or better say, LA REVOLUCIÓN!) hits the fictional South American country of Aloana. With the change of command, a japanese construction company received the order the cessation of activities in that country. Receiving no response from the foreman of the construction, the company sends Tsutomu Sugioka, a common employee, with the mission to find what happened to his predecessor, and inform the workers (all of them robots) of the current situation. Tsutomu tries to reason with 444-1, the robot that was left in charge of the work, asking him to dismantle all the structures and machines in the most efficient way, so a big sum of money can be saved, but everything this artificial being have in mind is finish the construction. At all cost.
The Order is not as visually spectacular as Running Man, but it definitely is excellent. Featuring a great combination of nature and technology, the construction is huge and incredibly detailed. All the robots follow a similar graphic pattern, but all of them are different from each other, being the 444-1 the most detailed one, and the one that changes the most along the film. Tsutomu has buck teeth xD, but he's fine. He really looks the way he acts. He's a nerd, but he tries really hard to fulfill his mission.
The sound... well in this work, there's talking. All the robot's voices sound the same way: robotized xD. Tsutomu is an angry little man, and his seiyuu give him an irritated and sometimes high-pitched voice, so good work there. And, like in LL, we have a classical piece here: Morning Mood, by Edvard Grieg (gentleman who also did In the Hall of the Mountain King).
Final comment: I can't say that this is Neo Tokyo's best short, but it definitely is my favorite (aw, screw it, this is the best :D). Much more direct and easier to understand than the other two, the story of The Order is just great, full of intrigue and tension, and a few twists every now and then (and all that in less than 15 minutes!). Also, this is one of many works that leaves us a valuable lesson about over-reliance that we have with technology.
Final comment (the global one): Neo Tokyo is a very interesting compilation. Each short has different things to offer, so there are high chances that not everyone likes them same way, but is that variety that makes NT a production suitable for a wide range of people (instead of being just recommendable for those who likes shonens, shojo, sci fi, horror, or any specific genre).
I recommend this to... everyone reading this. For me, The Order makes all this worth it, but you, Mr. reader, you can find compelling any of the three short, it's on you.
Anyways, thx for the reading, and please give a chance to Neo Tokyo.
Bueno... que es lo que tenemos aquí...
Neo Tokyo está compuesta por tres cortos, cada uno dirigido por un gigante de la industria. Dado que las historias son tan distintas, voy a tener que comentarlas por separado n_n.
Labyrinth labyrinthos (o Manie-Manie), de Rintaro (tal vez lo conozcan, participo en series como Jungle Taitei, Astro Boy, Petshop of Horrors, X/1999, y mil cosas mas...)
El primer corto, y el más surrealista de los tres. LL nos muestra a Sachi, una niña que, junto a su gato Cicerone, se internan en un laberinto luego de atravesar un reloj/espejo/portal. Una vez en el nuevo mundo, nuestros protagonistas vivirán experiencias extrañas, y la intensidad de lo raro subirá a niveles impensados... por suerte, Sachi encuentra un guía: un payaso vestido de blanco que, francamente, es bastante macabro. Como sea, este enigmático personaje los conducirá a un lugar mas... ¿seguro?
Si el planteo de este corto les parece bizarro, deberían ver a los personajes. Los pantalones de Sachi le llegan casi a las axilas, en lo que parece ser un homenaje a Ed Grimley. Todos los habitantes del laberinto son extraños, pasando desde seres invisibles a esqueletos. El diseño de personajes es bien caricaturesco, siendo el gato la excepción (se ve más detallado que el resto). Como sea, la animación, si bien rara, es impecable.
Las voces cumplen. La verdad, no hay mucho dialogo, pero no tengo quejas. La música es bien peculiar, presentando piezas clásicas como Gymnopédies y Toreador Song, de Georges Bizet! (el tipo que hizo Carmen).
Comentario final: Wow, esta cosa es rara. Sin llegar a los niveles de locura de cosas como Chocolate Panic Picture Show (aunque claro, nada llega a esos niveles de locura xD), Labyrinth labyrinthos es una experiencia pintoresca que me recuerda de forma vaga a Alicia en el país de las maravillas. Al menos desde mi punto de vista, en este corto no hay que buscar mucho sentido, o una respuesta, sino más bien disfrutar el viaje. Por que a cada paso que dan Sachi y Cicerone, hay una sorpresa esperando. Ya sea llamativa, bizarra o espeluznante, queremos saber qué es lo que sigue, y que es lo que hay al final del laberinto. Y como dato final, se podría decir que este corto y los otros dos están levemente conectados, a pesar de ser tres trabajos independientes. Ya verán porque n_n.
Running Man, de Yoshiaki Kawajiri (sujeto involucrado en cosas como Legend of the Galactic Heroes: My Conquest Is the Sea of Stars, Mirai Shounen Conan, Tetsuwan Birdy, y otras muchas).
Por suerte, RM es más simple de explicar que LL. En un mundo futurista, donde las carreras a muerte (para que se hagan una idea, es muy similar al juego Wipeout) son el evento favorito de los apostadores, Zach “Grim Reaper” Huges es el mejor corredor de la historia, multi-campeón invicto por casi diez años, y está participando una vez más con la idea de destrozar a sus rivales. El secreto de Zach: poderes telequineticos, con los que destruye a la competencia.
Bueno, RM no se parece en nada a sus compañeros de Neo-Tokyo. Acá todo es más serio, el diseño de personajes es bastante realista, y se ven muertes, explosiones y agonía bastante seguido. Visualmente, es lo mejor que hay en esta película.
El sonido, al igual que con LL, cumple. No tengo nada destacable que decir al respecto.
Comentario final: a pesar de que este cortó pueda parecer sencillo por lo que escribí, hay varios detalles a tener en cuenta. Running Man no está presentada de forma cronológica: es una sucesión de flashbacks que se intercalan con el presente. Esto puede ser bastante confuso, y probablemente sea necesario ver la película más de una vez para entender bien que es lo que pasa. No es que la historia sea compleja (todo lo contrario), simplemente está planteada de forma desordenada.
The Order to Stop Construction, de Katsuhiro Otomo (el tipo hizo Akira. No hace falta embellecer más su curriculum)
En un futuro no muy lejano, en el ficticio país Sudamericano de Aloana estallo un golpe de estado. Con el cambio de mandos, una empresa de construcción japonesa recibe la orden del cese de las actividades en dicho país. Al no recibir respuestas del capataz de la obra, la empresa envía a Tsutomu Sugioka, un empleado común, con la misión de averiguar que paso con su predecesor, además de informarle a los trabajadores (todos ellos robots) de la situación actual. Tsutomu quiere razonar con 444-1, el robot que quedo a cargo de la obra, pidiéndole que desmantele todo de forma eficiente para minimizar las pérdidas económicas, pero lo único que tiene en mente este individuo artificial es terminar la construcción. A toda costa.
The Order no es tan espectacular visualmente como Running Man, pero decididamente es excelente. Presentando una muy buena combinación de naturaleza con tecnología, la obra es monumental, increíblemente grande y detallada. Los robots, aunque siguen un patrón similar, son muy distintos unos de otros, siendo el 444-1 el más detallado, y el que más varia a lo largo de la película. Tsutomu tiene dientes de conejo xD, pero por lo demás está bien. Es un nerd, pero se esfuerza en serio para cumplir con su cometido.
El sonido... bueno, a diferencia de los otros dos cortos, acá si se habla. Todos los robots suenan igual: robotizados xD. Tsutomu es un hombrecito irritado, y su seiyuu se comporto a la altura, dotándolo de una vos a veces irritante, con un ocasional timbre agudo. Y al igual que con LL, acá también tenemos una pieza clásica: Morning Mood, de Edvar Grieg (señor que también hizo In the Hall of the Mountain King).
Comentario final: No puedo decir que TOtSC sea el mejor corto de Neo Tokyo, pero decididamente es mi favorito. Mucho más directa y fácil de entender que los otros dos, la historia de The Order es simplemente genial, llena de intriga y tensión, además de los varios giros que va dando la trama (y todo eso en menos de 15 minutos!). Además, esta es otra de las tantas obras que nos deja una moraleja acerca de la dependencia excesiva que tenemos con la tecnología.
Comentario final global: Neo Tokyo es un compilado muy interesante. Cada corto tiene cosas distintas que ofrecer, por lo que es probable que no todos gusten de la misma forma, pero es esa misma variedad lo que hace de Neo Tokyo una producción recomendable para un amplio espectro de personas (en lugar de ser solo recomendable para los que les gusten los shonen, o los shojo, o la ciencia ficción, el horror...).
Recomiendo esto a... todo el que me está leyendo n_n. Para mí, The Order hace que ver esto valga la pena, pero usted, señor lector, puede encontrar atrapante cualquiera de los tres cortos, está en usted.
Gracias por leer, y por favor, denle a Neo Tokyo una oportunidad! (en serio, no sé por qué tan poca gente vio esto. Será falta de publicidad? Si es por eso, acabo de contribuir a la solución del problema xD).
This particular anime is divided into three separate segments, each under a different screenwriter and film director. The following of those screenwriters/directors being Rintarō, who worked on anime films like Metropolis, X & Captain Harlock; Yoshiaki Kawajiri, known for creating titles such as Wicked City, Ninja Scroll (the movie, not the f***ing TV series) & Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust; and last but not least, Katsuhiro Ōtomo, who we all know for Akira, which is not only one of my favorite anime, but one of my favorite movies.
The first segment is “Labyrinth labyrinthos” by Rintarō about a young girl named Sachi trapped in a game
of hide-and-seek with her cat Cicerone and her search leads her to a longcase clock that doubles as an entry to the labyrinth world. It also serves as the ‘top-level’ story or a framing device that leading to the following segments.
The second segment shown is “The Running Man” by Yoshiaki Kawajiri that takes place in a futuristic world where people race to the death (although this have appeared in movies in numerous times) and one of the best is Zack “Grim Reaper” Hughes, remaining undefeated for 10 years but how does he keep winning for so long? He was telekinetic powers to vanquish his competition.
The final segment is “The Order to Stop Construction” or “Construction Suspension Order” by Katsuhiro Ōtomo where a revolution in the fictional country of the Aloana Republic has resulted into having newer government installed but refuses to accept a contract and the company sent down salaryman Tsutomu Sugioka to stop production but as it turns out the work is fully automated and won’t stop to any cause.
If I have to pick one of these shorts to be a favorite of mine, it would have to be “The Running Man”, mainly because I can notice some of Kawajiri’s traits of realistic designs of the characters, the deaths among with the element of agonizing pain and misery. While having the power to stop your opponent can make you one of the most notorious racers ever known, having that isn’t going to last forever. “The Order to Stop Construction” while having an excellent detail of the combination of nature & tech, which all the praise goes to Ōtomo but it’s not what I call the best. The only human character in here just seems like the pushover dork that should’ve known better than to accept something that could get him killed. “Labyrinth labyrinthos” is a very simple story of entering another world as a child and it is a visual marvel but it’s nothing glorious about it.
The animation here is done by……well, damn, MADHOUSE and this is a title made in 1987 and it does retain its vintage looks much like any anime made in the 1980s. It has aged very well throughout the years ahead of its existence. However, on the voices and I rarely go on about voice acting but the Streamline Pictures dub is really lackluster, but consider back then, awful English dubs did exist back then and it really shows how awful it is, it’s not 4Kids awful but Streamline Pictures don’t even try to make it sound good, especially on the dub of Akira (for future references, Yes, I rather prefer the Pioneer/Geneon dub to Akira rather than the Streamline dub. Excuse me while I get my shields and beating stick.) The music is composed of Western classical music: the first of Erik Satie's Gymnopédies and the "Toreador Song" of Georges Bizet's Carmen in "Labyrinth" and "Morning Mood" from Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt score, in an ironic manner, in "The Order" in addition to original music by Mickie Yoshino.
FINAL VERDICT: It’s a fairly well-done anime that has many visual and storytelling contributions from three different directors/screenwriters. Aside from the bad dub, it’s something I would recommend if you want to explore something different than the usual.
Having watched the triple-feature "Memories" a while back, I decided to move onto another, titled "Short Peace". "Memories" featured some great content, but it was mainly held up by a single part of it. "Short Peace" went for completely different genres and styles and threw them all together, bringing a more inconsistent feel that made the whole idea of packaging of them together a bit meaningless. Manie-Manie: Meikyuu Monogatari or "Neo Tokyo", on the other hand, is more of a package deal in that each part aids in the enjoyment of the entire threesome. All of these parts are memorable and all are engaging. From
what I've seen from three-parters so far, this is certainly the most successful in its execution by having a consistent dark and ominous theme that stands out throughout.
Towards all three parts, the art and design is phenomenal, the first in particular containing some of the best in anime. The first part, titled "Labyrinth Labyrinthos", is a lot like "Cat Soup" for those who've seen it. It features wildly imaginative scenery and imagery. It also relates itself to a constant darker theme with plenty of psychological visuals. There's some fabulous animation in this piece and those who want a good experience, or to appreciate under-the-influence animation, should definitely come here for the great start. The sound is also fantastic and builds an engaging atmosphere that will take all focus and attention. There wasn't really any music besides a bit of carnival noise, but the sound design is again some of the best. However, this part doesn't come without flaws or without the potential to have been better. I found "Cat Soup" to be more of a masterpiece, even though the visuals here are a bit better quality, because there seemed to be more variation in the possible meaning it carried. Labyrinth Labrinthos didn't appear to carry much of anything to me, personally, and felt more like somewhat of a transition material to continue with the next two parts. As I appreciate illogical experiences a lot, it comes with a feeling that, without a story, meaning can still fill that missing sensation that would be felt without either. With barely anything to fill that gap, Labyrinth Labrinthos feels incomplete. Even so, it was a masterpiece of directing and design. There's also a lot of creepy clown imagery for those who can't handle it, but it would really take a lot for anime to scare.
After the first part, I feared that the rest of this collection wouldn't succeed to the same level as the first piece. The second part now transitioned into something with a tad more plot and story to it. It would still be untrue to say that the second piece, titled "Running Man", was less of an experience though. Infact, Running Man held about as much of an impactful experience as Labyrinth Labrinthos did. It took its own style of art and animation, while still keeping the dark look. It also did perfected sound work to match the depth of the atmosphere of the first, also coming up with a premise that had a bit of literal understanding to it. In that way Running Man part-way filled the gap Labyrinth Labrinthos couldn't with a bit of story, but it still didn't feel entirely satisfying in how it was carried out. The setting itself was nice and really fit the title of "Neo Tokyo" well. It takes a futuristic, deadly race setting and mixes a stylish amount of noir fashion in its inhabitants along with some detailed design-work in the technology. The art is good too, but not quite to the level of the first piece. While there is a lot of impressive moments, there are quite a bit of repetitive scenes and moments that will re-use frames. I usually wouldn't mention things of that nature, but it felt a tad too common here when considering the time length and the amount of body shaking going on (which reuses frames) and more still shots. Even so, the repetitive nature of it does increase the emotion of the experience in making it one of the most intense anime I've witnessed. However, this is a bit more of an experience than the first part, as how it is designed isn't too re-watch friendly. It's more of a one-timer, with maybe a bit of enjoyment from a re-watch after some time. That is mainly due to the issues again with the story. There is definitely a premise and something is knowingly happening in Running Man (being the race), but there is also some supernatural elements going on that really are what's taking the front of attention. These elements aren't explained in the slightest, only leaving one to try and guess at what could have happened. It felt that there might have been some meaning involved while watching it, but it really just felt more like visual art with the goal of creating a unique atmosphere (much like the first part). So, again the story and explanation is the cripple from feeling justified in giving this part the acclaim it could have received.
The third part, titled "The Order to Stop Construction", then moves in carrying the greatest focus on story of the bunch, with still some attention to atmosphere. The first thing that will likely come to one's mind when it starts is the animation style, making one know without-a-doubt who the art director was. That would be Katsuhiro Otomo, the man behind Akira. This looks exactly the same as that, down to the movements of the technology (which again make this piece fit with the title of "Neo Tokyo") and just about everything to the characters. There is some really interesting direction with music and visuals here, with a more superior handling of repetition to build the atmosphere. There isn't as much reusing of cels, but more rebuilding the cels and creating new, while still similar, scenes. The story was understandable this time around, and the main character had a purpose and a personality. The setting was still interesting, but a tad too unbelievable to take the story too seriously. Even though it is hard to take it completely seriously, the atmosphere isn't hampered too much by that. The environment creates something that appears like a technological jungle where the machines are living and growing off of themselves. The main character is done well and his reactions and emotions to what is occurring around him develop in an interesting way, him slowly turning mad along with the illogical and surreal technological environment he is forced to work in. One small gripe to being entirely satisfied with the story though would be the ending. It does present the character's madness well in a way that can make the viewer understand the ending, but a bit more time added to showing it would've helped in making the end not feel as blunt. Overall, The Order to Stop Construction definitely fits along Otomo's other works.
Of the three parts of Neo Tokyo, The Order to Stop Construction felt as the most complete experience with the most amount of time put into the atmosphere, direction, and the story. However, as the main aspect of Neo Tokyo seemed to be its visuals, Labyrinth Labyrinthos will be the most memorable of the bunch. That would be due to its excelling imagination and intriguing style. The director who I haven't heard of 'til now, Rintaro, is someone to keep attention on and I'll be prioritizing viewing his other works. Neo Tokyo has heavy strengths in its visuals and sound that create some captivating experiences, but its weakness is its lack of meaning and logical understanding. Its goal is to be seen as an art-house, and that should be the main expectation when deciding to view this. For the short length of forty minutes total, there shouldn't be much excuse to not wanting to see this though. It's a recommended viewing for just about everyone in the anime community that has some patience or attention to atmosphere, but it isn't quite a masterpiece. It would be great to have more stuff like this created in present time, but experience-heavy content like this seems to be becoming less popular. Even so, there's plenty of stuff that already exists out there that can be viewed for those types of people. Also, as a final note, it's recommended to watch Neo Tokyo in a dark room with not too many distractions. That will bring the most enjoyment.
Manie-Manie: Meikyuu Monogatari is a Madhouse production from the tail end of the 80s. It features three different segments, each from a different director. It's no secret that my history with Madhouse is heavily mixed. On one hand, they're the studio behind rubbish like Bio Hunter and the X-men anime. So nice of them to royally mistreat one of my favourite super hero teams. But they've also been behind such excellent anime as Monster & Petshop of Horrors. So, any time I see the studio attached to something, I don't know whether to expect garbage, mediocrity or something amazing.
The segments aren't really connected. So, I'll
go through each one as its own thing.
Our first segment involves a young girl and her cat entering a mirror world and encountering all manner of strange things. Including the one person who liked Hollywood's Jem film and English cuisine that isn't hideous.
The second segment involves a futuristic race where competitors risk their lives. We get to see a particularly disastrous race. You might think health and safety proponents would never allow such a deadly race to exist, but as all the racers are Frank Miller fans, no one actually cares.
The third segment is about a young man who gets sent to the jungle to shut down a building operation after the old foreman went silent. He finds the robots working on the project to be less than responsive has to figure out how to stop their activities. He could ask them to calculate pi to the last digit, but he doesn't want to completely destroy their circuits.
The big problem that every segment shares is that they all value spectacle over substance. The first and second segments both have very little story. We get a parade of odd images in the first and a big, overblown sequence of crashes and cars getting torn apart in the second.
The best segment is the third because it, at least, has something of a narrative. And even then it's a bit lacklustre. While I will credit the people involved with having a strong premise, there just isn't enough time to give it proper build up and its climax basically devolves into a big, over the top sequence.
There isn't much character to speak of. Even in the last segment, what we get is very basic and simple. It's hints of personality without anything properly fleshed out. You could make the argument that these are sixteen minute segments and they can't really develop the characters, but Yami Shibai came closer to having fleshed out characters in under five minutes. Or, in the case of the final segment, it equalled the characterisation.
The artwork is quite nicely detailed and well animated. The biggest issue is that the second segment has a lot of bizarre shading and a lot of it looks a bit shit as a result. Like, we're talking a urine coloured filter over everything. Which isn't what you want from something that relies heavily on the spectacle. Give the first segment some credit, it may look like someone's illicit drug trip but at least it's interesting to look at.
The acting is passable. There aren't any amazing performances that will stick with you, but there also aren't any bad ones. The music is fine.
Romantic dynamics are as lacking in this as strong interactions between characters in general.
Areas of Improvement:
Give us some characterisation. Honestly, each of these segments lasts about fifteen minutes. And each one would benefit from taking a bit of a break from the spectacle in order to flesh out their characters a bit.
Some basic narrative for the first two segments. Like I said, the third segment is, hands down, the best because it puts some effort into a narrative.
Good art for the second segment. Lose the over-shaded, piss filter look. It's pretty awful.
If you're someone who likes to watch fifty minutes worth of spectacle without substance, you may enjoy Manie-Manie. For me, style over substance doesn't do a whole lot. The last segment certainly had potential but it needed more time to expand on it. That being said, I didn't think this was awful. Well, maybe the second segment was. It was mostly serviceable at what it's trying to do. I'm going to give it a 4/10.
Are you getting tired of the same old anime? Perhaps it's time for a change, and you'd prefer to watch something more mature, edgy and bizarre. Here are a few rock solid film noir anime from the 90's through to the present day.