Mani Mani Well Worth the Search
Xeokym | mooooo jerzeeee | 10/05/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's unfortunate they renamed this trio of shorts "Neo Tokyo" from its original title, "Mani Mani," as it makes searching for this difficult-to-find gem somewhat frustrating. They did it in hopes that it would make people think it had some sort of tie-in with "Akira," which, other than featuring Katsuhiro Otomo, it doesn't. In 1986 this was one of my first tastes of anime (other than Starblazers, Battle of the Planets, Robotech and Voltron) and it blew me away; nearly 20 years later, it is still a delicious piece of eye candy as much as a thought-inducing trip into surreal "what if" scenarios.
Mainly I wanted to get the DVD to see "Labyrinth Labyrinthos" again, by Rintaro. Throughout the entire 3 shorts, there is little dialogue, and I think it adds to the mystique and surreality glazed over the collection. Labyrinth serves as the intro and outro, or "bookends" to the other 2 stories, but is a beautiful story in itself about a young girl with a vast imagination, playing hide & seek with her pet cat. The stark piano solo sets a profound mood of both childlike playfulness and imminent, nightmarish danger, intertwined. Though it is short, I found Labyrinth having a deep emotional impact on me. Watch it in both the english dubbed mode and subtitled mode, there are quite a few differences in what little dialogue there is (and not just lost in translation, either). Sloppy or intentional?
The second story is "The Running Man," a haunting and frightening plunge into the story of a burnt-out futuristic racecar driver. This deserves more than one watching; not only is the animation amazing (not for the squeamish!) but the narration is stark and leaves a lot to be filled in. I think this is intentional, as it forces the viewer to watch carefully. In the early 90s, MTV showcased this anime on their Liquid Television series, a weekly collection of animation from around the world. I find I like the english dubbed version more, simply because the narrator takes on a 1940s American film-noir air that matches the feel of the anime design, but watching the subtitles, again, provides for some interesting slight differences that (perhaps) make the story a little clearer.
Finally there is the claustrophic and very stylistic "Construction Cancellation Order," which is my least favorite of the three only because the ending is quite predictable. The animation, though, is top-notch and Otomo fans will enjoy seeing some of his other work besides the (deservedly) well-known Akira. Just don't expect it to BE Akira.
If you can find the DVD in the $9-15 range it is well worth the money, a key element in anyone's anime collection, and entirely rewatchable. Tuck it in right alongside "Robot Carnival." I wouldn't call it "perfect," as it has its flaws, but it represents a point in anime history that should not be overlooked. It rather grows on you...like Otomo's endlessly destructive jungle vines."
It's been a long time in the coming.
L'Etranger | Mission Viejo, CA United States | 08/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was previously available through the now-defunct, Streamline Pictures. Before that, only one clip was known to US fans and that was Yoshiaki Kawajiri's Running Man (no relation to Stephen King's story), which was shown as an edited version on MTV's late-night Liquid TV show. The fact that it was edited should make any avid film buff cringe with disgust, but the upside of this television version was that it was narrated with a deep, raspy smoker's voice (I think the name of the voice actor is Jose Ferrer, but I'm not too sure about that - this same voice actor also did voice overs for other Liquid TV segments). The problem with the Streamline unedited version is that they dubbed this clip with another voice actor whose voice completely does not fit what fans had seen before. And so it has been for more than 10 years. We either had a duped and edited copy from television or we had an unedited, horribly dubbed version on old, worn out, out-of-print VHS (yes, I still have mine too). This DVD is a welcomed addition to fans of the wave of sophisticated anime that came to the US in the late 80s and early 90s (Akira, Wicked City, Bubblegum Crisis, etc). Despite the bad rep Streamline gets for the bad dubbing jobs, let's not forget they were the ones putting this stuff out there for more people to see. Before there was a Cartoon Network, the only place you could see anime was at conventions or at limited theater releases of Streamline products (were it not for them, most new US fans back then would have missed out on what was going on in the animation scene). And thanks to ADV for remembering the older core fans (who were around to buy the first run of Devil Hunter Yohko videos at 40 bucks a pop!)."
Sci-fi Tales from Anime Greats
Antonio D. Paolucci | Beaver Falls, PA | 02/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Anime of this type--the short story collections (Memories, Animatrix)--seem impossible, to me, to do any wrong. If one story fails, the next one will steps up. Neo Tokyo (also known as Manie Manie) is one of these anime, yet all of the tales have their own special intrigue to them that is sure to attract older fans of anime (those old enough to remember Liquid Television on MTV).
This collection brings together some of the greatest anime directors around, and when you consider the production credits of all the creators of Neo Tokyo (Galaxy Express 999, Metropolis, Ninja Scroll, Akira, Steamboy, and Tokyo Godfathers) you can't help but realize that this is a special film indeed. And all of these shorts were created well before they became as legendary as they now are, so in many ways Neo Tokyo is a genesis anime.
Who are the anime directors in which I'm talking about? Rintaro, Yoshiyaki Kawajiri, and Katsuhiro Otomo, that's who. If you want to see the earlier works of some of the greatest minds in anime, not to mention a classical anime that was well ahead of its time, then I highly recommend this title.
1. Labyrinth Labyrinthos: This story follows a curious little girl as she and her cat make their way through a magical maze. Guided by a strange dancing clown she meets many interesting creatures. This story is more a frame story than anything else, beginning and ending Neo Tokyo.
2. Running Man: A futuristic tale where an investigative reporter is doing a story on a prolific, and psychopathic, arena racer, who is the star of the most deadly race around. Yet during his investigation, the reporter discovers the horrifying secret to the racer's success, as well as the reasons in which the running man runs. An expectantly violent tale from the maker of Ninja Scroll.
3. Construction Cancellation Order: It's obvious who created this short from the first character intro: Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira and Steamboy). A man is sent into a jungle-buried city, where expensive robots work endlessly, in order to replace the lost super-attendant and shut down the work of the robots. But the robots have other plans for him... The back of the Neo Tokyo DVD case describes this tale perfectly as "Bradbury-esque.""