Mar 1, 2024
au Future Laboratory is a brief, technically impressive ONA with a unique premise that is worthy of a much longer run. Beginning with the story, it covers the tale of a laboratory which has developed a means of communicating with the future, and its experience as a victim of corporate espionage. Solid, uncomplicated, and unique, the story has good pacing for how short it is and is an interesting experience throughout. Though, this brevity does leave the whole thing feeling a little incomplete, even though the ending itself I feel is generally satisfying. The art is this anime's strong suit, which is very impressive both for how short it is and the relative obscurity in which it stands. The animation is clean and fluid, the character and tech design interesting and detailed, and the overall aesthetic both believable and just futuristic enough to feel advanced in a grounded way. In short, it is very pretty to look at. The sound is solid, meeting all standards of quality. This is also true for the characters, and though the total runtime isn't long enough for any them to get great development, the main duo of Kido and Mizue are my favorites among the cast for their believable working relationship and contrasting friendship. Overall, au Future Laboratory is a neat, impressive little experience, but it is bewildering that this ONA hasn't been given a full season run, and isn't an adaptation of something else like a manga or light novel. It just exists, on its own, in a vacuum, without any further action on it or extrapolation on its story. It's almost like it exists as a demonstration of a team's animation or storyboarding skill. In this way, it feels reminiscent of many much older OVAs from the 80s and 90s, which put out a brief experience like this as the beginning and end of the project. I'm not complaining here, as even though I would watch a fully realized version of this anime, they are using a formula which allows for creative original ideas like this, which would otherwise perhaps be passed over for production in many cases, to exist at all. It's just that I haven't really seen this strategy used by major studios since the early 2000s, and that alone would be enough to make this a thoroughly unique title. Give it a watch, as it is more than worth the little time needed to do so.
Reviewer’s Rating: 6
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