Reviews

May 2, 2014
Po_and_Dong (All reviews)
Since Genius Party is a compilation anime with no overarching connection, I'll post what I thought about each one in the order of my favorites.

7. Limit Cycle
This one was really bizarre. This is the longest short at about 18 minutes, but struck me as the worst of the whole thing. Basically a man made out of static and moving motifs goes on a very long, fast paced speech about.... literally nothing. Usually if I see someone say something attempted to sound complicated but falls under its own weight I don't believe them, but I see this as one of those cases. The man talks about a variety of philosophical, religious, sexual, and biblical topics with absolutely no context, all in one stream. This must have been a nightmare to sub, it was almost a nightmare to watch as well. Maybe the point of this short went completely over my head, I wouldn't put it past me, but if you are expecting any kind of explanation of what is going on or any kind of basic premise on which your interpretation can be based on, you will not find it in this short. If I had to guess optimistically, the point was to be as chaotic and nonsensical as possible, in order to make some sort of "sentence-art" phenomenon to go on. This would work out well with the visuals, which are extremely spectacular, both technically and creatively speaking. A variety of colorful motifs and symbols take up the screen most of the time, and it is cool to see. Not enough to make the short itself fun though, unlike in the Genius Party opening short.

6. Doorbell
This short also struck me as weaker than the rest. The premise revolves around college student looking man, who finds himself unable to walk into places or houses because a specter of himself is already in the house, and no one can see him. This sounds strange on paper, its also strange on screen. Although this short is about 13 minutes, it still felt a bit too long. At least half of the short revolved around the nameless main character walking around town, which isn't exactly a technical marvel or art style or animation I might add. In the end it was rather boring because of this, as well a premise that didn't interest me. The climax obviously carries some deeper meaning, and I won't reveal exactly what it is just in case some are reading the review without seeing it. My interpretation is that the young man is either bipolar, or it has something to do with how people put on different faces and sub-personalities based on their environment. Definitely not strong on that though, as it was an ambiguous climax. I wouldn't watch this one a second time.

5. Shanghai Dragon
The theme of this short is the imagination of children, and the premise is a young chinese boy acquires a futuristic device that allows him to create basically anything using it like chalk, that is he makes a drawing out of something with it on the ground and it comes into reality. Overall I was mixed with this one. Unlike Doorbell or Limit Cycle, I never got bored while watching it, but I wasn't stunned by anything either. The theme of children's imagination conquering the evil robot overlords was cool but, when you think about it, all of these Genius Party shorts already have a theme on imagination to begin with. The visuals definitely had a style to them, but it wasn't a very unique style like the one used in Deathtic 4. The action and chase sequences were both very fun to watch, as well as the finishing scene were the boy powers up into his imaginative toku suit of armor to fight evil. Again, didn't blow me away but its just another addition to the compilation, and is good variety in retrospect. Cool crayon art stuff on some scenes. Salute to Sai and his cuban cigars.

4. Baby Blue
This short is directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, the well known director of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo. A high school student asks a girl to skip class with him and go somewhere. The girl agree and they head off, all the while small talking and reminiscing a little bit. It turns out they don't really know where they are going, but eventually decide they want to make a turn for the beach, and off they go. Baby Blue features very hushed voice acting, which gives off a subtle feel compared to the rest of the compilation, and the banter between the two really complimented the atmosphere well. This isn't one of those shorts that tries to hit you over the head with symbolism, its just kind of a simple story that I can't really describe much further without spoiling, but it works well. There were some funny scenes too, most notably the part where they were intercepted by the bike cop. Bike cop had a cool voice too, good audio experience indeed. I liked the ending too. Another good short and a nice quiet anime to compliment with the crazy action of some of the other shorts. Besides that, not much else to say about this one.

3. Genius Party (short)
This is the titular short of the compilation, the first of the pack in order, and also the shortest at around 5 minutes. It is similar to Limit Cycle in where, you really don't know what the hell is going on. That is to say the events that transpire are without any form of context are background information. Big difference though, it isn't 18 minutes long and full of monotonous nonsense. Instead, its an explosive piece of animation, with awesome art style and spectacular choreography to boot. Everything is colorful and complimentary, it is a huge visual and audio presentation and a great way to start off the short. An animation explosion is what it is. It's so short you could watch it on youtube in a few minutes so I won't say whats going on in the short besides theres these really happy rocks and they love to dance. Great anime.

2. Deathtic 4
CGI oh no! The CGI is really cool though because it has something many CGI anime lack, and that is detail to the art. Usually because CGI isn't meant to look like art i.e drawings in the first place, thats for the modern traditionally animated anime. This short features a bunch of zombie dudes trying to send a frog who fell into zombie land through a tornado in the sky or something (Uzu Uzu.) They get embroiled in some shit on the way. Plot is straightforward. Fantastic art though seriously, its like some kind of woodcut style thing. I usually hate CGI but I really loved the style of the background and the art. The style was particularly cool, everything is dead and zombieish, character designs fit the bill and they are all very unique. Props to the zombie police and Posse. This was one of the most entertaining shorts for me, mostly due to the reasons above, I really like when the shorts feature experimental animation or art or cool design, this one has all three. Details on the CGI, its basically like the characters themselves are computer generated, but they have a caricature style that you usually don't see in CGI anime, although you see it in western CGI alot. The backgrounds were mostly drawn in though. Anyways its a short with a simple premise but its unique because of some really funny scenes and cool style. Also all of the characters speak in some kind of bizarre, incomprehensible Scandinavian/Russian which only adds to the out of worldness of the environment.

1. Happy Machine
This was my favorite short in the compilation, and is directed by one of my favorite directors, Yuasa Masaaki who directed Kaiba, Kemonozume, and The Tatami Galaxy. If you had to relate this short to anything complete he has worked on, it would be Kaiba. In a sense, Happy Machine is a visual prototype for the style and the atmosphere featured in full on Kaiba. The visuals and the design of characters, creatures etc. are very unique, in fact they are my favorite of the entire short, even more so than in Deathtic 4. I love how chaotic and enjoyable the director can make a short with such a simple premise that it goes without words, but will go with words for the sake of the review: A baby is taken care of in a bizarre machination of a day care center, only to leave it on a combination of impulse and accident, and ends up venturing out in a world that really doesn't have any laws of physics to speak of. The short is made up of several main scenes, like parts where the baby encounters a flame who burns his crackers, and riding a gigantic horse plant thing. It is not reliant on detail to add to the experience, instead more so on really cool atmosphere, music, and funny scenes. This is a kind of anime that you can just turn your brain off too and go wide with wonder, kind of like the baby. I wonder if this was the intention. Happy Machine has a theme about the cycle of life that only really makes sense at the end of it. It is really entertaining, an animation and style experiment that eventually matured into Kaiba, which was also one of my favorite anime. A great one to watch with friends.