Containing shorts that couldn't be included in the original, Genius Party Beyond weaves stories that are both deep and insightful: the idea all life is relative in size, the consequences of an oppressive government, and how to deal with your darker desires, among others.
From the directors and artists of works such as Samurai Champloo, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Akira, come a multitude of thought-provoking tales, to create a collection equalling the original in storytelling genius.
Like previous Studio 4c collaborations "Batman: Gothic Knight" and "The Animatrix", the Genius Party shorts are less about showcasing deep stories than they are about showcasing the wonders of animation. Unlike the previously listed collaborations, the Genius Party shorts are primarily personal projects made by both established and independent animators. The only thing that can be stated about the shorts as a whole is that they are wonderfully imaginative and colorful, and the Beyond shorts are arguably even more imaginative than the original Genius Party works.
The first short, "Gala", directed by anime regular Mahiro Maeda of GONZO fame, is essentially a music video
with an overarching story about a mysterious meteorite which lands in a small village and how the inhabitants react to it. While the animation and art are relatively standard, the music adds a sense of life and energy to the short that makes it both a great start and one of the best in the package.
The second short, "Moondrive", done by director of the Kill Bill anime sequence Kazuto Nakazawa, is a humorous tale of delinquents on a search for treasure on a colonized moon after they discover an indecipherable map. The art style is a strange mix of Sylvian Chomet and Japanese conceptual art and gives the work a decrepit, yet comedic vibe.
"Wanwa the Doggy", by Shinya Ohira, who has previously done key animation on well-known Ghibi and Gainax works among others, continues the collection with a baby's vivid dream about pretty much everything a baby could experience. It's one of the most imaginative in the package, featuring a simple chalk-based art style that makes the animation even more of a visual feast than it already is.
"Toujin Kit", my personal favorite short, is the story of a young girl under arrest for breeding mysterious squid-like organisms in a steampunkish/cyberpunkish world. This short focuses more on narrative than the other works in the package, asking the viewer more questions than it does give answers, which serves to give the already intriguing world more depth. Done by Tatsuyuki Tanaka, who has previously done key animation work on a variety of lesser-known works.
The collaboration ends which the strangest of the bunch, key animation regular Koji Morimoto's 20-minute "Dimension Bomb". It plays out like an unfocused dream about friendship and betrayal set in a strange quasi-postapocalyptic world that's one part Ergo Proxy and one part Texhnolyze. This one, while narratively simple, is filled with enough unique and highly detailed steampunk, cyberpunk and sci-fi imagery to make it a fitting end to the collection.
Unlike the first Genius Party where 3 of the shorts were bad and the other 4 were good, Genius Party Beyond doesn't have a single bad short. Wanwa the Puppy is the weakest of the shorts, mainly because the animation style can be a tad off putting at times, but it's still a good short. Gala, Moondrive and Tojin Kit are very good, but
the best short is Dimension Bomb. It's hard to put into words how great of a short it is, you simply have to experience it yourself and see what you think. Even though I felt like I wanted more than just 5 shorts (the first film had 7), I think Genius Party Beyond is a step up from it's predecessor.
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.
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