Reviewby Luke Carroll, Feb 25th 2010
Genius Party Beyond
From STUDIO4℃, the cutting-edge anime studio that is home to many of the revolutionary animation available today including "the Animatrix" and "Tekkonkinkreet" comes Genius Party Beyond; 5 New features from 5 anime heavyweights.
The concept remains the same: Gather an all-star team of contemporary Anime creators, mixing established legends with the brightest up-and-comers. Give each one free reign to make an entirely original film, providing only a single guiding theme: The Spirit of Creativity.
But more than extension of the original Genius Party, the directors of Genius Party Beyond have pushed the envelope even further and the results, quite simply, are extraordinary.
The Revolution Continues.
When the original Genius Party was first conceived at Studio 4c, a total of twelve animations were created. Of these twelve, seven were ultimately selected and combined to become Genius Party, with the remaining five combining to create Genius Party Beyond. As such, it could easily be mistaken that this package is simply a mix of all the rejected titles not entertaining or good enough to make the original seven. Such a thought couldn't be further from the truth though as Genius Party Beyond manages not only be on par with its predecessor, but at times almost surpasses it.
This 81 minute spectacle opens with Gala, a rather outlandish film about a mysterious object that lands near a village and the villagers quest to find out just what is inside. Directed by veteran Mahiro Maeda, this piece certainly isn't the most spectacular of the bunch, featuring some rather contemporary animation and a story that only picks up about half way through. Despite this though, Gala still manages to be an entertaining film over all certainly does manage to open the proceedings well.
The second film in the line up is Moon Drive, a rather humourous tale directed by Kazuto Nakazawa that tells the story of a group of villains who hear rumours of a great treasure and set out on an all or nothing quest to discover it. With an animation style that is very reminiscent of Dead Leaves and a quite perverse look at humour, there is much to enjoy about this short. Although in saying that, the animation style and its bland colour palette certainly may not be to everyone's tastes.
Coming into the halfway mark is the third film Wanwa. Directed by Shinya Ohira, it's hard not to be intrigued by its strange animation style that seems to be a combination of one part crayon, one part chalk, and ten parts pure wackiness. Either way, this at times mystifying story about a boy's dream whilst his mother is in hospital will almost certainly leave you immersed by its ending. Without a doubt one of the highlights of the package.
Next up is Toujin Kit, a rather less than intriguing tale directed by Tatsuyuki Tanaka that tells the story of a young girl who implants her toys with a bug that allows them to come to life. The authorities however eventually get tipped off about her illegal creations and soon arrive at her residence with their sights set out on destroying the forbidden creatures. Tanaka's choice of a grey colour palette and detailed designs work really well for this piece though, creating the feeling that Toujin Kit actually takes place in a much larger living and breathing city. Whilst certainly not to everyone's taste, this short really oozes more style than it does story.
Rounding out the collection is Dimension Bomb. Directed by Koji Morimoto, this film certainly takes the prize as the most abstract piece of them all. Although it's hard at times to actually make sense of what you see on screen, the rather wonderful animation and defining musical score makes this nothing more than a marvel to watch. That said, this piece will certainly not be to everyone's tastes, especially with its run time coming in at a tad under 20 minutes. Either way you look at it though, Dimension Bomb manages to be a fitting final short that rounds out the collection nicely.
On the extras side of things, the first disc contains only a trailer for the film whilst the second disc holds the bulk of the material in the form of some very lengthy Director Interviews for each of the five films. It would have been nice for some extra clips or trailers to have been included on the second disc like they did with Genius Party, because there's quite an empty feeling as it is. Thankfully for us though, Siren have chosen not to change the unique dvd case they used for Genius Party, which if you've had the chance to see it, is really just as imaginative as the content inside.
Since watching the first Genius Party, I have been itching for the chance to see just what this sequel held in store and whether or not it could actually hold up to its predecessor. I can safely say now though that Genius Party Beyond manages to do that in spades. Although just like the first title, there will be shorts that not everybody will enjoy, however there is certainly enough exceptional and interesting pieces in the collection to make this a title worth checking out if you haven't already done so.
Overall : B+
+ Early shorts are well done shorts, more hits than misses
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