Monday, July 25, 2005

Some Things Are Better Left Unseen

A couple of days ago, I watched an anime called Dead Leaves on Starz On Demand. The anime was produced by Production I.G., an anime company known for great works. They are the ones behind such works as Blood: The Last Vampire, FLCL (with Gainax), all the Ghost In The Shell animes, and the animation that was in Kill Bill Volume 1. Unfortunately, Dead Leaves is a misstep in their catalog.

Dead Leaves is an OVA that's less than an hour long. It basically deals with two characters, a woman and a man (with a TV for a head). They suddenly wake up one day with no memory and go on a crime spree. The spree results in them getting sent to Dead Leaves, a prison on the mooon (or what's left of it anyway). There, they are joined by other freakish looking criminals. Eventually, the duo learns more about their origins and why they know so much about Dead Leaves.

Dead Leaves is living proof that just because an anime is wacky, hyper, and violent, it doesn't mean it's actually any good. No other anime has ever looked quite like Dead Leaves. In fact, it looks more like an American indie comic book than an anime. Like comic books, sound effects are actually represented as words. Some scenes show action in panels like American comic books. In some respects, I liked the visual approach even if the character designs bordered on ugly. However, the visual approach doesn't work very well with the large amount of violence. At times, things are so hyper that it's unclear as to what is actually going on. I don't mind mindless violence if it's actually enjoyable. However, the action sequences in this anime left me cold.

This anime also attempts crazy humor similar to shows like Excel Saga. However, it fails miserably. It's amazing how unfunny Dead Leaves is. You can imagine the creators thinking that a character with a drill for a penis would be funny. Instead it reeks of a pathetic attempt to be edgy. Add this to the most unerotic, unfunny sex scene in recent memory and you have something so bad that it made me fast forward.

Ultimately, Dead Leaves is a failed experiment. I commend the creators for actually trying something radically different. I only wish that it was actually interesting and fun to watch.

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