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I was reminded of the existence of Neo Tokyo whilst researching Robot Carnival. Both are supposed to be "experimental anime" of a similar variety. That is wrong. The only thing the two anthologies have in common is the involvement of Katsuhiro 'tomo. Robot Carnival sucks.
I really enjoyed this. It had everything that Robot Carnival did not - vibrancy, humour, charm, originality, and something interesting to offer. It also does not make the mistake of being too long. Though I wouldn't really call the majority of this OAV "experimental", this style of film, with quirky avant-garde direction tends to get boring and repetitive over time. The three shorts that make up this collection keep it snappy, and sacrifice none of their brilliance for doing so.
The opening feature, directed by the infamous Rintaro, sets the scene for a child's fantasy, only to twist in a morbid direction near the end to present the following two, darker tales.
What is it about cats and anime/manga? They must be the most common animal/sidekick. The fat black example in this piece reminds me of the bad-ass star of the Legend of the Galactic Pirates, not to mention the brilliant What's Michael manga by Makoto Kobayashi. The piece presents a dreamy neko-fantasy world of childhood imagination and Dali-esque modern art. I was reminded of some of Rintaro and Madhouse's other work, for example Doomed Megalopolis or their animation of CLAMP's Tokyo Babylon. I liked it a lot, though it did almost seem out of place in light of the second two episodes.
The middle piece is the weakest, though not without it's charm. A well-used scenario in manga and anime forms the basis of Yoshiaki Kawajiri's (The Cockpit, Barefoot Gen) effort - high-speed, deadly races.Read more ›
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Mani Mani Well Worth the Search5 Oct. 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
Three great stories by three legends.10 Sept. 2014
- Published on Amazon.com
Originally written 5-25-10
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 can 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, but this isn't an ordinary race. This is a futuristic race called the Death Race, and drivers normally last between 1 to 2 years. Zack Hugh has been champion for years and has been surviving all competition in the process.
The Aleona Republic has recently undergone a coup. There's a company whom 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, whom will see the job done at any cost.-summary
This is a rare gem from way back. Neo Tokyo which is 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 went on to become legendary in the anime world. Rintaro, his most notable work may be Metropolis. However, this is not one of my favorites at all. I instead prefer Doomed Megalopolis. Katsuhiro Otomo is most known for Akira. I prefer Memories way before that one. Finally, Yoshiaki Kawajiri 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 and whether you love them or hate them; 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 spoon fed.
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. 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, therefore I was expecting more of the same. Still, it's another interesting story packed with style and substance. This is a story 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, yet 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.
Cons: Could have been much more, some won't see the appeal
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Sci-fi Tales from Anime Greats19 Feb. 2006
Antonio D. Paolucci
- Published on Amazon.com
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."
Three edgy vignettes22 July 2004
- Published on Amazon.com
I have waited a long time for this to be released on DVD. I was turned on to it first when the second of the three feature vignettes aired on MTV's liquid television. My VHS copy was stolen, I quickly acquired another copy, which has now been played almost to death, so the DVD version is arriving just in time. This is a series of three vignettes around the central theme of "The Circus". The stories and themes range from the mildly amusing to the profoundly disturbing, waxing metaphorical on more than one occasion. The animation quality is excellent, and the stories as well developed as possible for their running time. The devout anime fan will be impressed by the quality of graphic design, and the tenative anime fan will be greatly entertained. In short, a "must-have" addition to anyones anime/manga collection.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
It's been a long time in the coming.22 Aug. 2004
- Published on Amazon.com
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!).