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Review: Genius Party

Genius Party (2007)

Director: Various (Studio 4°C)



After watching Mind Game, I sought out more of Studio 4°C’s work and came across Genius Party, a collection of seven short animations each by a different director. As I’d come to expect from the studio, there’s a giddy mix of artistic styles and themes, and – for the most part – a great sense of fun and fast-paced visual excitement. You can check out most of the shorts on Youtube. There’s a ‘sequel’ too, Genius Party Beyond, which I’ll be watching very soon.

Genius Party
Directed by Atsuko Fukushima

An enchanting and visually gorgeous five-and-a-half minute piece that serves as an introduction of sorts. It’s one of those pure animation experiences which brings you a uniquely visual idea without need for words, so consequently it’s not really something I can summarise, but overall I’d say it deals with how taking delight in beauty lifts the spirit. I certainly had a smile on my face throughout. Great music track, too.

Shanghai Dragon
Directed by Shoji Kawamori

A little boy living in 20th century Shanghai has the chance to become a superhero when spaceships, killer robots and a mysterious artefact interrupt an ordinary school day. The story – a kind of sci-fi take on Harold and the Purple Crayon, complete with bald-headed protagonist – is endearing and funny, and the animation is irresistibly energetic. One of my favourites.

Deathtic 4
Directed by Shinji Kimura

A young boy in the land of the zombies finds a living frog and asks some friends for help returning it to its own world. Probably my favourite of the collection, it has a dark but sumptuous visual style combining rich painting with CG techniques to give added depth. The grotesque but loveable characters and grimy, gothic world are beautifully realised and I could have happily stayed with them for a full length feature. And the zombie police have to be seen.

Doorbell
Directed by Yoji Fukuyama

A high school student's life is disrupted alarmingly when doubles of himself keep arriving in places before he does. It’s an interesting idea hampered slightly by sluggish animation.

Limit Cycle
Directed by Hideki Futamura

This was easily my least favourite in the collection. It features an impenetrable philosophical narration about God, reason etc. by an actor who sounded as bored as I was, over a semi-abstract tangle of images for nineteen very long minutes. It looks very pretty but failed to connect with me in any emotional sense. It's interesting that the film which tries to make the grandest statements actually left the least impression.

Happy Machine
Directed by Masaaki Yuasa

A dialogue-free story of a baby (wearing an adorable animal hood) who in the absence of parents is forced to find his own way in a surreal and sometimes frightening world populated by strange creatures. By turns funny, disturbing and sad, it looks at the challenges of survival and the cruel ways of nature through a small child’s eyes.

Baby Blue
Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe

A nostalgic story about a high school boy and girl who skip class to go on a trip to the beach, but the day becomes rather chaotic. The art is clean and attractive with lovely use of light, and it's a touching tale of young friendship.


Comments

wuffy_angel
Aug. 5th, 2009 03:51 pm (UTC)
'Genius Party' looks gourgeous. All those little pink hearts made me go 'awww' ^^ Must put in my book 'Once to See.' >.>
filthy_bunny
Aug. 5th, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC)