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DEAD LEAVES, 2004
Movie Reviews!

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DEAD LEAVESDEAD LEAVES, 2004
Movie Reviews

Directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi.

Cast: Amanda Winn Lee, Jason Miller, Hal Lublin, Jason Lee,
Review by Martyn Warren


SYNOPSIS:

After finding themselves on an empty street with no memory of who and what they are, Pandy and Retro soon cause chaos among a nearby city. However, they are soon captured by the police and are sent to a prison hidden within the half-destroyed moon. They soon free themselves from their cells and with all the other prisoners, they attempt to escape from the high security prison.

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REVIEW:

From the producers who brought us the classic sci-fi anime film Ghost in the Shell (dir. Mamoru Oshii) they then made the most obscure and colourful anime film that I have ever seen, which happens to be Dead Leaves (dir. Hiroyuki Imaishi). Anime fans might like this film, but people who are new to anime probably wouldn’t want to start with this one.

Written by a first time screenwriter, the running time of the film is approximately sixty minutes long and even though some people will automatically question the film for this, this isn’t a big issue since the story doesn’t need to be stretched much further.

The film opens up with a woman with a mysterious mark on her eye named Pandy (Takako Honda/Amanda Winn Lee) and a man with a television for a head named Retro (Kappei Yamaguchi/Jason Lee) waking up on a street with no memory of what and who they are. Shortly after, they cause chaos in a city and are soon thrown into a prison near the remaining half of the moon for people who a genetically mutated.

Soon after their arrival, they manage to free themselves from their cells and free all the other prisoners to try and escape, which is filled with gun-wielding police officers, giant robots, a couple of absolutely crazed prison workers and obscure revelations that fly with incredible action sequences.

Even with the sixty minute running time, the story manages to be interesting to follow with action scenes constantly following each other and the animation style being very obscure to match the characters involved in the story.

With Hiroyuki Imaishi behind the direction and the art direction done by Hiromasa Ogura, they have managed to create a very stylish anime film that Western and Eastern audiences alike will appreciate.

The style of the film was obviously taken from the music videos and the comic books of the eighties, which was a great idea that is used to make the film’s story appealing towards western audiences and is a great creative choice to experiment with. An example of how it was creatively used is easily seen in the first five minutes of the film, where the citizens of the city look very square and basic and we then see Retro and Pandy having big close-ups to show off their large expressions.

This interesting style of animation is taken further on the numerous characters that Pandy and Retro encounter in prison, such as Chinko Drill who has a massive golden drill for a penis and the ugly-yet-knowledgeable Dr. Yabu. With all the weird characters appearing in different times during a film that has constant action and an odd style, they definitely help to make the story keep driving.

Even though this film may be a bit too odd for mainstream audiences, this is definitely worth watching if you liked other sci-fi anime films that also have an odd narrative. This is definitely one to look for if you’re an anime and animation fan.

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