Japanese Spotlight: Genius Party

Japanese Spotlight: Genius Party
It’s hard to know where to begin when describing Genius Party, the first anthology of original work from STUDIO 4°C, a highly innovative Japanese animation studio that’s been producing hit after hit, and adored the world over. The cream of Japanese anime superstars has gathered to launch a project aimed at putting together original works. Genius Party is the first fruit of their project, a collection of seven never-before-seen short stories.

Atsuko Fukushima’s Genius Party (Opening) gets things going with a birdman learning to fly in an impressionistic desert full of rocks that are learning to love.

Next up, Shoji Kawamori (director of the anime feature Super Dimension Fortress Macross) provides top-notch visuals and entertainment in Shanghai Dragon, where an alien invasion places the fate of the world in the hands of a six-year-old child.

Shinji Kimura’s Deathtic 4 displays some very impressive CGI animation skills, as a zombie boy and a live frog try to make it in the Underworld.

Following that is Yoji Fukuyama’s Doorbell, about a young man who comes home only to find out that he’s already there. Confused yet? So is the young man. Can he get to a destination before his doppelganger does?

Hideki Futamura’s Limit Cycle pits cyberpunk against old-timey mysticism and so much more in a visually stunning and intellectually demanding look at metaphysics. It looks unbelievable but after a while the point gets lost and this piece ends up feeling like the low-point of the cycle.

Masaaki Yuasa gives us Happy Machine, a visual free-for-all that follows a baby after his trippy "happy machine” runs out of juice.

Last but certainly not least is a story of unrequited teen-love. Baby Blue comes from Shinichiro Watanabe (director of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo), and is a finely crafted and touching tearjerker voiced by the likes of Cannes award winner Yuya Yagira (for 2004’s Nobody Knows) and Oscar nominee Rinko Kikuchi (for Babel).