Anthology films are commonplace in the anime genre. Perhaps the most notable recent collection is Memorîzu, re-released after the success of The Animatrix. Genius Party combines the talents of seven anime directors, each of whom has been involved in projects as varied as Akira, Steamboy, Tekken Kinkreet, Perfect Blue and Cowboy Bebop.
Their films range from the weird, like Shinji Kimura’s Deathtic 4, which combines a steampunk attitude with Real Monsters-like visuals, to the sublime—like Hideki Futamura’s Limit Cycle, an enchantingly psychedelic meditation on life, the universe and everything that is a collage of still photography, computer graphics and manipulated traditional animation. There are no overarching themes—stylistic or otherwise—so it’s best to treat each instalment as a stand-alone short film, dipping in and out of the collection rather than watching all of them consecutively.
A second disc pairs animatics, storyboards and hand-drawn work-in-progress versions of the shorts with commentary from the director and lead animators. The sequel, Genius Party Beyond, is made up of five films that were not included in the original collection, and screened at the International Film Festival in July; it’ll be out on DVD sometime next year.