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.
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