I had previously written a Preview about Short Peace back in March. I was a little disappointed while writing that. When I learned about Short Peace, I also learned that it was showing in the United States in March. I had learned about Short Peace in late March, and the showings were on March 3rd! “Shucks, I missed it!” I thought to myself. I was prepared to wait a year before I could see it (no thanks to you, Rebuild of Evangelion, for taking so long). Fortunately, luck was on my side, because the good people over at the Doris Duke Theater were showing Short Peace in early May. Awesome sauce.
So, is Short Peace worth the hour or so it would take to watch it? The short answer—yes.
Short Peace is a film anthology. Basically, that means that it is a collection of films presented as one. So, when you go to the theater, you typically will not watch one of them, but instead watch all four of them (and the short intro) in order. These are stand-alone films, however when they are distributed, all four of them go together.
Short Peace was started and supervised by Katsuhiro Otomo, who is most famous in the United States for the manga, and its movie adaptation, Akira (you know, the one with the bikes and psychics). He has also done a previous film anthology back in the ’90s called Memories. Memories featured Koji Morimoto (Dimension Bomb) directing Magnetic Rose, Tensai Okamura (Darker than Black) directing Stink Bomb (how odd), and Katsuhiro Otomo directing Cannon Fodder.
This time around, we have new blood.
Directed by Shuhei Morita, and in fact was nominated for an Oscar in 2014. Interestingly enough, Morita and Otomo go back all the way to 2006: both of them worked on 2006’s OVA series Freedom, with Morita as director and Otomo providing storyboard and character and mecha design. Looking over Morita’s past credits, he seems to specialize in CGI. That does not surprise me, given how impressive it is in Possessions.
Storywise, it is pretty simple and straightforward. A traveler takes shelter in an abandoned shrine to get away from the rain. When in there, he is confronted by yokai. These are junk whose spirits have become bitter for being thrown out. They are initially hostile to the traveler, but he is able to repair them and win their favor.
The animation in this short 15-minute film is really impressive. The best part is when the traveler yawns. They put so much work into that. Of the four, I think this one benefits the most from surround sound – there are a lot of sound effects for the junk, and seeing this in the theater was a real treat. I do not believe watching this at home will be as good of an experience as in the theater – this was made for the big screen.
Is it worth the time? Yes.
Compared to the others? Second rank.
- ‘Possessions’: The Art of the Oscar-Nominated Shorts by Amid Amidi
- Shuhei Morita talks ‘Possessions’ by Dan Sarto
It opens with a panoramic view of Tokyo, presented as a camera moving over a scroll painting. Then, the characters start moving. The story moves quick, the time is short, but do I love the way this movie moves.
Combustible was a real pleasure to watch. As in Cannon Fodder, Otomo takes advantage of the animation medium to create camera movement that is impossible in real life. Another favorite scene of mine: when the buildings all catch on fire, the camera flies over the buildings and gives us an entire view of the fire as if we were standing on a ladder on the roof. The fluidity of that scene was just pure awesome.
The story surrounds a large fire that happened in Edo (modern Tokyo) during the 19th century. We start with a young boy and a young girl, who develop a romantic interest but can never go through with it because of their parents. Later on, the boy joins the fire brigade despite the disapproval of his parents; the girl is going to be in an arranged marriage to a man she does not love. One night, a fire starts in her home, but she does not bother to report it or put it out because of the distress she is feeling. Combustible ends in a gigantic fireball.
A note about the animation – the characters are rendered in 3D, but everything else is traditional animation. Neat. Another thing: someone interpreted this movie as starting as a painting and ending as a painting. I thought that was pretty interesting.
Is it worth the time? Yes.
Compared to the others? First rank.
- ‘Akira’s’ Katsuhiro Otomo takes fiery turn in ‘Combustible’ by Charles Solomon
I do not have much to say about Gambo. It is violent, grotesque, and pretty repulsive. All by design, I think. There are some disturbing images. Gambo is too much for my tastes.
The basic premise is this: an Oni is kidnapping girls. A young girl finds a white bear named Gambo who decides to kill the Oni. As it turns out, the Oni is impregnating the girls.
I can appreciate the work put into it, but Gambo is not to my taste. It is not bad, however, but I can only recommend it if you can stomach such stuff.
Hiroaki Ando, the director, has previous directing experience with another short film called Chicken’s Insurance, part of the collection Digital Juice. He certainly has a unique take on the medium. I, however, do not care much for Gambo.
Is it worth the time? No.
Compared to the others? Fourth rank.
A Farewell to Arms
Here we end with the action-packed scifi short. It is a popcorn flick, much like Shanghai Dragon was to Genius Party. It is entertaining, cool, slick, and fun to watch. The sound effects are awesome.
It begins almost like Iron Man: a military vehicle racing through the desert while heavy metal plays in the background of the conversation on board. Apparently, these guys collect old weapons. I do not remember the reason why, but considering that the desert they are traveling in is Japan, well, I can only guess that Armageddon happened.
As far as action movies go, this one is well done. It was cool watching the mercs jump from building to building, and watching all of their gadgets and weapons was good eye candy. The ending was a little bit silly, but overall solid.
Hajime Katoki is most famous for a lot of theGundam designs after Mobile Fighter G Gundam. This includes Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Mobile Suit Gundam: The 008th MS Team, and Mobile Suit Victory Gundam. He also did the mechanical design for Patlabor 2: The Movie, which honestly is more impressive to me. Of course, none of these credits come as a surprise to me.
Is it worth the time? Yes.
Compared to the others? Third rank.
Three out of four of them being worth the time? Not bad. None of them are groundbreaking, but three of them are worth the time.
I just have one question, though: Why the heck is it called “Short Peace”?
|Title||Director||Is it worth the time?||Rank|
|A Farewell to Arms||Hajime Katoki||Yes||3rd|