Starring: Hiroshi Otake (Fist Of The North Star; Akira), Yu Mizushima (The Pillow Book)
Directed By: Rintaro (Metropolis; "Astro Boy"), Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Vampire Hunter D; Ninja Scroll), Katsuhiro Otomo (Steamboy; Memories)
Overview: Three short Animé films heavy on the weird side: Labyrinth-Labyrintos is a young girl's dream-journey with her cat, The Running Man is the futuristic sci-fi story of a hovercar race gone wrong, and The Order to Cease Construction is the tale of a human foreman sent to halt a building project, but the robots seem to have a thing or two to say about it.
Acting: The animation truly seemed to pay great attention to the facial details of our characters and the voice acting was perfectly appropriate. Robot '1 of 444' is most likely to be everyone's favorite, with his sputtering need-of-repair monotonous droning, but there's also cool Film-Noiresque deliveries and wonder-filled childish glee. It's good they put so much effort in the Japanese side, something they sorely missed on the trip to The Occident.
Cinematography: There's different techniques used for each of the films with Labyrinth-Labyrintos taking the cake for most versatility of style, even changing during the film itself, and certainly not your typical style of animation from Japan. The others are more like you'd expect but there is great detail put into the scenes. You won't be disappointed.
Script: Without a doubt, some of the worst translation out there. Not enough to make you lose sight of what's going on, since the English-versed mind can comprehend the synonyms intended but it does come close to being cryptic as Shakespeare. The DVD version that I watched also did not offer a dubbed version. It just makes me wonder if I'd have understood more of the subtle nuances of The Running Man, the most vague of the stories, had it not been for the poor effort in translation. Luckily, the dialogue was interesting enough to forgive it that slight. Some pretty cool stories here.
Plot: The first film leans deeply into the Avant-Garde and fantastical elements, the story is of a girl exploring, strictly intended for the visually oriented. The second story was also strange though more comprehensible, yet enough mystery remains. As stories go the last was my favorite, a true Man Vs. Machine tale and on the darkly comedic side. Overall, solid deliveries all around.
Mood: The themes don't stick as closely together as they did with Memories, a similar three-part Shorts presentation. Two of these films were sci-fi but one was a surreal abstract seen through the eyes of a child. The mood ranged from gory-horrific-adult to playful-circus-happiness. Each film's themes were completely immersive, differently stylized and a joy to watch, but keeping an overall commonality would have made it a little better.
Overall Rating: 80% (Crazy-Cool)
Aftertaste: I think I've exhausted my buddy's Animé collection with this one, and it's a nice feeling of accomplishment, though it's a little sad too knowing that my next phase of Animé study will all be films I'm going into without knowing how good they are. Well, curses to me, eh? What a chore :P