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Director: Atsuko Fukushima, Shoji Kawamori, Shinji Kimura, Yoji Fukuyama, Hideki Futamura, Masaaki Yuasa, Shinichiro Watanabe
Screenplay: Shoji Kawamori, Mitsuyoshi Takasu, Yoji Fukuyama, Hideki Futamura, Masaaki Yuasa, Shinichiro Watanabe
Cast: Yuya Yagira, Rinko Kikuchi, Lu Ningjuan, Taro Yabe, Tomoko Kaneda
Producers: Yukie Saeki
Distributor: Studio 4°C
There aren’t many creative collectives in the world who’d be justified in calling an omnibus of their short works GENIUS PARTY, but if anyone has that right, it’s Japan’s amazing Studio 4°C, founded in 1986 by animators Koji Morimoto, Eiko Tanaka and Yoshiharu Sato. The talents orbiting this operation are top-notch, among the most intensely original and inventive artists in the animation field today—but Fantasia regulars already know this. From their work on 1995’s MEMORIES and ’98’s SPRIGGAN with anime titan Katsuhiro Otomo (AKIRA), to the astounding short film NOISEMAN SOUND INSECT, to the recent features MIND GAME and last year’s opening film TEKKON KINKREET, Studio 4°C’s vivid and daring visions of what animation can be have consistently amazed our festival-goers.
The seven short films making up GENIUS PARTY couldn’t be more diverse, linked only by a high standard of quality and inspiration. Atsuko Fukushima’s intro piece is a fantastic abstraction to soak up with the eyes. Masaaki Yuasa, of MIND GAME and CAT SOUP fame, brings his distinctive and deceptively simple graphic style and dream-state logic to the table with “Happy Machine,” his spin on a child’s earliest year. Shinji Kimura’s spookier “Deathtic 4,” meanwhile, seems to tap into the creepier corners of a child’s imagination and open up a toybox full of dark delights. Hideki Futamura’s “Limit Cycle” conjures up a vision of virtual reality, while Yuji Fukuyama’s "Doorbell" and "Baby Blue" by Shinichiro Watanabe use understated realism for very surreal purposes. And Shoji Kawamori, with “Shanghai Dragon,” takes the tropes and conventions of traditional anime out for very fun joyride.