Genius Party Beyond

Genius Party Beyond
The second of two programmes showcasing the acclaimed Japanese animation house STUDIO4°C (The Animatrix, Batman: Gotham Knight) is a very mixed bag of work. It ranges from run-of-the-mill Saturday morning cartoon fare to animated sci-fi punk.

Mahiro Maeda’s Gala falls into the first category. A giant meteor crashes into a remote village, inspiring the curious human/animal townsfolk into blasting open the cosmic rock. That unleashes a mysterious life force that compels them (including a talking cat) to perform good deeds. I know, I know, don’t ask.

Kazuto Nakazawa’s Moondrive takes place in another corner of the same galaxy, following the adventures of a down-and-out band of treasure hunters scavenging the moon. While it features some eye-catching animation, the film falls flat in the humour department and the characters never leap off the screen despite all their high-decibel hijinx.

Wanwa The Doggy by Shinya Ohira is, well, how to describe this? Moments after a little boy is tucked into bed, a hurricane blasts through his room and sweeps him into a kaleidoscopic never land of hungry monsters and candy bars. Our little guy is hurtled through space as a beast claws after him. Wanwa is a non-stop tumble through colour and space, both whimsical and fantastical. However, at 13 minutes and without a story to hang it on, the film is a little long.

Tatsuyuki Tanaka’s Tou Jin Kit is a much more mature work, set in the near future in a cold, mechanised city. Robotic cops bust into the apartment of a teenage girl who collects teddy bears that harbour an alien virus. With minimal dialogue, the film creates a chilling post-punk world that recalls early-era Heavy Metal magazine. The film’s atmosphere and detailed images overcome its foggy narrative. (I’m still not sure what the virus is, apart from being a colourful blob.)

Koji Morimoto’s mini-epic Dimension Bomb features a beautifully drawn surreal explosion of colour that recalls the star gate sequence in Kubrick’s 2001. Again, forget the story, just sit back and float downstream.