Short Peace is a collection of short anime films from a group of talented anime directors led by the great Katsuhiro Otomo. The film opens in a spectacular fashion thanks to work by Koji Morimoto. Viewers are then treated to the following shorts:
Possessions (Dir: Shuhei Morita): A man gets lost in the forest because of wild weather and ends up spending a night at a deserted house… This short film combines traditional Japanese arts with modern CGI techniques to bring a supernatural story vividly to life and the result is nothing short of spectacular. The film carries a subtle but important message that broken tools and objects can often be repaired and recycled. For a film with such a short running time to be so full of style, adventure and imagination, Possessions truly impresses and fully deserves its Oscar nomination.
Combustible (Dir: Katsuhiro Otomo): A young fire fighter finds himself having to put out a massive fire in his own neighbourhood… Written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo (creator of the anime masterpiece Akira), Combustible demonstrates how a little bit of background information about the characters can go a long way in helping audiences care for them. The story is a simple one, but it is told elegantly and beautifully, and the film has some of the best fire scenes ever seen in movies.
Gambo (Dir: Hiroaki Ando): When a Japanese village is terrorised by a red demon, a mysterious giant bear may be their saviour… This gripping tale tells of the fight between good and evil, and the figures of the bear and demon may be symbols of God and Devil respectively, though the concept is not explored in any depth in the film. Fans of violent films should enjoy this one as it is often bloody and at times even a bit gruesome.
A Farewell To Weapons (Dir: Hajime Katoki): Much of the city is in ruins following a war and a group of soldiers has to overcome an autonomous fighting machine in order to survive… This one is for action fans who don’t mind a lack of storytelling as long as there is plenty of thrilling action. For me, this is the weakest entry in the anthology and it feels like an extended action scene seen at the end of a feature film. The lack of knowledge about any of the human characters makes it hard to care for their survival.
Overall, this is a wonderful collection of anime shorts that should prove a most satisfying and stimulating way for anime fans to spend just over an hour of their time. While Possessions and Combustible are my personal favourites, Gambo and A Farewell To Weapons both offer much that anime lovers would enjoy.
The Bottom Line: Every short piece in the animated anthology Short Peace is visually inventive, but some of the stories are better than others.
(Seen at the 18th JFF)