Coming to home video in North America is Genius Party Volumes 1 & 2 (ジーニアス・パーティ) offered in one disc. Studio 4°C is behind this anthology series, and all twelve shorts are offered instead of the original Japanese editions where both were sold separately–originally released in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Anime fans who have yet to discover this bonanza will be thrilled to find many storytelling genres realized by top talents. The shorts I loved the most were the fantasy type works.
“Shanghai Dragon” is familiar; instead of a magic typewriter, a pen is found by a young Chinese boy (with a snot problem) and anything he draws comes to life. This tale is engaging for the simple reason it blends past (dealing with life from a poor boy’s perspective) with the future. The world is in trouble since it’s this lad’s imagination that will save the day. Shōji Kawamori (designer of Macross, Escaflowne) directed this magical piece and it feels far more imaginative than his earlier endeavours.
A lot more alien and eccentric works wonderfully colour “volume two.” The anthology name is very apt to show what Mahiro Maeda‘s “Gala” can offer. The first work is a virtuoso of music and Expressionism. It felt like a blend of Japanese Shinto culture discovering Western Classical music for the first time. Of particular note is the sound mix, which is better in 7.1 surround sound (despite it being 5.1 according to the disc specs). This director is better known for directing Blue Submarine No. 6
Tatsuyuki Tanaka‘s “Toujin Kit” is equally weird in its steampunk aesthetic and UFOs. Well, not quite. But the aliens that appear out of the dolls the woman scientist makes are certainly way out there. His manga works may not be as well known internationally, but I now want to find them. He’s the creator behind Angel Oil, and I’m very curious!
Kōji Morimoto‘s “Dimension Bomb” is worth noting for it’s romantic tale of two inter-dimensional humans, and pyrotechnic adventure . By the end of watching this collection of works, I’m reminded of the spectacular spectacular (ala Moulin Rouge) which I fondly recall in the intro’s and outro’s from Robot Carnival. The fact this creator directed “Franken’s Gears” in that work made me realize why I was reminded of that old film.
Although it took a long time for Genius Party make it to North America, the wait was certainly worthwhile. Keeping track of each of these creators latest works is not always easy. The complete list of talents behind this compilation include Atsuko Fukushima, Shinji Kimura, Yoji Fukuyama, Hideki Futamura, Masaaki Yuasa, Shinichirō Watanabe, Kazuto Nakazawa, and Shinya Ohira. They are all well respected names in the industry and they show no signs of slowing down.