Studio 4°C, Part 2: Genius Party Beyond

Genius Party Beyond

After Genius Party, I also had this on the shelf, but I was reluctant to watch it right away. It turns out my decision wasn’t such a bad idea. Had I seen Genius Party Beyond immediately after the first, I would have been sorely disappointed (I wrote extensively on Genius Party just a short while back–if you haven’t read it, please do as I would like any feedback). I’m still disappointed, but I suppose not as much. Like the first anthology, it’s visually stunning, but unfortunately, it’s more style than substance.

I felt that Genius Party had a common thread running through all of its stories, one that I didn’t find in Genius Party Beyond. According to the Wikipedia entry, the second anthology contains the animated shorts that never made it into the first one. Immediately, I already had a sense that what we’re seeing here is inferior, i.e. didn’t make the cut. Maybe this judgment isn’t entirely fair without first watching it, but now that I have, I don’t think the prejudice was necessarily off the mark. Genius Party Beyond feels like a mishmash of stories that don’t really seem to fit together.

“Gala” by Mahiro Maeda

Gala

Here we have your classic environmentalist story you see so often in anime: creatures of all races and kinds must band together to create a harmony with which to cultivate life. Unlike Mononoke Hime or even Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, however, the message here is so ham-fisted. Harmony is literally achieved by playing giant 3-D instruments.

Gala

They look hideous against the beautiful backgrounds by the way. All things considered, I did enjoy the music and the ending sequence with Ko-oni rising to the surface was pretty neat.

Gala

I just felt the message could have been a little more subtle.

“Moondrive” by Kazuto Nakazawa

Moondrive

I personally loved the look of “Moondrive.” It feels like a comic book (or visual novel if you prefer) come to life.

Moondrive

It’s just too bad I found myself drifting in and out of the story. It’s about a gang of misfits that found a treasure map… to a treasure map. What? Did I get that right?

Moondrive

The gang of misfits obviously fall for the fake map and they’re soon well on their way to the predictable disappointment awaiting them at the end. Being a short here just doesn’t help “Moondrive.” This should have been a full fledged OVA or something, which would have served to flesh out the characters. As a short, “Moondrive” is just one fast-paced scene to the next without any time to settle down and decide why I should care about anything happening on screen and so I didn’t.

“Wanwa the Puppy” by Shinya Ohira

Wanwa the Puppy

This was easily my favorite of the five animated shorts. We take a surreal plunge into a child’s imagination and it thus serves perfectly as a character study of a young child. Is it convincing? Maybe, maybe not; I don’t think my imagination was ever quite so active back then.

Wanwa the Puppy

Everything looks as though they were drawn with color pencils or crayons. The anime employs a very kinetic style that really reminded me of a kid’s short attention span.

Wanwa the Puppy

Something was always happening on screen, but the overall aesthetics just fit.

Wanwa the Puppy

I felt it was a nice touch when Mama appeared and drove away all the kid’s sadness.

“Toujin Kit” by Tatsuyuki Tanaka

Toujin Kit

In this story, a girl is illegally raising some strange alien creatures. Thanks to her concerned parents, government officials quickly bear down on her and her little friends. The short employs a very grungy, steampunk-esque look; basically, lots of gray and brown.

Toujin Kit

As if to say all things colorful and creative are disdained, the cinematography is pretty much the exact opposite of Wanwa the Puppy. Shots linger longer than usual and there’s no background music of any sort.

Toujin Kit

It might be an homage to 1984 (while Orwell had some nice ideas, I personally think Aldous Huxley got it right but this is neither the time nor the place to discuss that). In the end, I suppose “Toujin Kit” accomplished what it set out to do and I like it better than either “Moondrive” or the next short, “Dimension Bomb.” It just didn’t really conjure up anything in me and, as a result, “Toujin Kit” left me pretty lukewarm.

“Dimension Bomb” by Koji Morimoto

Dimension Bomb

I thought “Moondrive” was too short, but “Dimension Bomb” is even worse. We get a montage of very cool looking scenes, but they don’t quite add up to anything. The cryptic voice overs by some unnamed girl didn’t help either. “Dimension Bomb” feels like someone just crammed a 13 episode dystopian anime down my throat in just 19 minutes.

Dimension Bomb

I briefly considered that the short’s ability to aggravate might be part of its brilliance. It certainly made me want to know more about what I was seeing on screen, but I unfortunately never will.

Dimension Bomb

It looks amazing–I’m not gonna deny that.

Dimension Bomb

And the moody techno soundtrack really accompanies the images well. But after ten minutes of (quite frankly) vague nonsense, however, my mind turned off. What was the point of everything I just saw? I can’t even say it was an abstract philosophical exercise that went over my head like Limit Cycle of the first anthology. It personally just reminded me a lot of those pointlessly mysterious sci-fi anime that crop up every now and then.

“Dimension Bomb” ended up summarizing most of Genius Party Beyond for me: all style and no substance. If you would like to see amazing animation, the visuals here are great and I’d recommend the anthology alone on that. The entire thing, however, just misses more than it hits and that’s unfortuante considering how much I liked its predecessor.

Please refrain from posting spoilers or using derogatory language. Basically, don't be an asshole.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.