Japanese 1997 anime
Neo Tokyo (迷宮物語, Meikyû Monogatari?, lit. Labyrinth Tales, aka Mani Mani Labyrinth Tales) is a science fiction anthology film conceived by producer Masao Maruyama. The animated shorts are written and directed by Rintaro, Yoshiaki Kawajiri and Katsuhiro … see full wiki
A young girl playing with her pet cat searches for fun and ends up in another dimension. But is this really a new world she's exploring? Or could this be a figment of her imagination?
A reporter is sent by a magazine he writes for to do an article on a race car driver. However, this isn't an ordinary race. This is a futuristic race called the Death Race, and drivers normally last between 1 to 2 years. But Zack Hugh has been champion for years, and surviving all competition in the process.
The Aleona Republic has recently undergone a coup. There's a company who has been under contract with the previous government to run a construction site called 444. Due to the new rule, the company is being forced to leave. After losing contact with the previous foreman. The company sends one of their workers named Sugioka Tsutomu, with orders to shut down the project. However, the project is being ran by a pre-programed robot, who will see the job done at any cost. -summary
This is a rare gem from way back. Neo Tokyo, most notably known as Manie Manie: The Labyrinth Tales, is a 1986 OVA containing three separate stories that were directed by three individuals, whose names are legendary in the anime world. Rintaro, his most notable work may be Metropolis. However, this is not one of my favorites at all. Instead, I prefer Doomed Megalopolis.
Katsuhiro Otomo, who is most known for Akira. I prefer Memories way before that one. Finally, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, who is very well known for Ninja Scroll. Well, I consider Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust to be his best work by far. Each of the stories display their directorial talents, which would soon become legendary. Whether you love them or hate them, it's a fact that they would later go on to direct some of the most recognized and cherished titles in the anime world.
Neo Tokyo is a splendid and most often overlooked work, which depends on its visuals to tell a story without the use of constant and linear dialogue. The first two stories utilize very little dialogue in its narrative. While the third story contains plenty of dialogue, but utilizes its themes in a subtle way as well. Several anime fans I have spoken to on this series favors the last episode. Others plain don't like the series at all. Not trying to sound snobbish, but works like these are what separates the thinking crowd, from those who truly need to be spoonfed.
Story One: Labyrinth
This story is directed by Rintaro. This is a very imaginative and well crafted work. The narrative utilizes a dream type setting. It's telling a story with many images and supernatural occurrences; such as the myth behind alternate dimensions within mirrors.
The unique character designs carries the personality of the dream type atmosphere. It's really something that must be seen. The music which is made up of playful piano pieces further establishes the mood, by switching between a playful child like rhythmn, and into a sped up cadence creating a more nightmarish style, which blends very well with the visuals, and appears to match the speed of the piano keys. The combination of visuals and music is simply stunning. The animation has stood the test of time, and doesn't feel dated in the slightest to me.
Story Two: The Running Man
This is a glimpse of Kawajiri's future works. But this short tale also proves that Kawajiri at one point could also deliver a real thought provoking story. Outside of the introduction that is narrated by the reporter. There is also very little dialogue to be found here.
This story is also told with the character. From what I gathered, this was a story exploring the transition from obsession into madness. This second story is the most brutal of the three, with Kawajiri utilizing his now legendary trademark, which are creative and imaginative death scenes. The visuals are also outstanding, very dark, and even creepy, which blends very well with the self-destructing themes being portrayed.
Story Three: Construction Cancellation Order
I found this story to be the least engaging of the three, despite being the longest. The reason being, I was attached to the visual style of storytelling. So, I was expecting more of the same. Still, it's another interesting story packed with style and substance. This is a story basically about man relying too heavily on technology, thus, losing control of his tools. The story is somewhat predictable and the ending could have been a little better.
Neo Tokyo is a great collection of stories, but they apparently do have a flaw holding them back. The stories feel a bit like ideas, that could have been a whole lot more had they been given a longer run time. Each of the stories are around 14 to 16 minutes, with the third maybe being a little more than 20 or so. They seem like small pieces of a bigger work. However, so much is accomplished in that short amount of time, where as anime such as Blood: The Last Vampire accomplishes very little, to almost absolutely nothing in twice the time.
Even though Neo Tokyo does feel held back. The OVA makes a strong case on why it should be among the best. The stories are very well written. The animation & artwork is excellent, plus both langauges have their place. I highly recommend watching both languages, which are well above average, plus, watching the series twice for a better grasp of the stories. Neo Tokyo also happens to have a feel that resembles The Twilight Zone.
Neo Tokyo has a total run time of 50 minutes. This is an anime that has been sitting comfortably in my collection for years. I mainly recommend this to the serious anime fans. Most notably the ones who enjoy analyzing what they watch.
-Spectacular animation & artwork
-Imaginative & interesting stories
-Could have been much more
-Some won't see the appeal
What did you think of this review?
Japanese 1997 anime
Director: Hayao Miyazaki; Release Date: April 15, 2003