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Saturday, November 22, 2014

MEIKYU MONOGATARI / NEO TOKYO (1987)

It took a few decades for this trio of shorts, mid-‘80s State-of-the-Art anime, to show up on Stateside DVD. But while the visuals remain fast & trippy, the little stories drag it down. The first segment lasts about 10 minutes and hasn’t much storyline to speak of . . . which may explain its relative success. Instead, we get a kiddie, a kitty and circus-themed elements. The director, Rintaro, by-passes stock anime drawing formulas to good effect starting from the monstrous cave-mouth of Moloch, a vision straight out of the early Italian silent spectacular CABIRIA/’14. Next, Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s car racing apocalypse brings on standard smash-ups to significant sound, fury and little effect. Last up is Katsuhiro Ôtomo (of AKIRA/’88 and STEAMBOY/’04 fame*) in the longest of the shorts at just over 20 minutes. Set in some half-built city of the future, like Brasilia, where the rainforest is winning a battle of reclamation against the builders. A lonely engineer gets dropped off to shut things down, but the mechanical workforce won’t cooperate. There’s an intriguing ‘Heart of Darkness’ vibe here, but like the film as a whole, we’re left with only the hints of an idea.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: *Ôtomo’s AKIRA has been remastered. Renew your anime bona fides with a revisit. Maybe you’ll like it better this time . . . maybe not.

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