Dead Leaves



sothis's avatar By sothis on Dec 30, 2004

Dead Leaves is weird.

Now that that's been said, let's discuss why. First of all, the plot of Dead Leaves doesn't really matter. This movie was obviously made for the animation, plain and simple. That being said, even if you wanted to understand the plot, it's not so easy, given the extremely unique animation style and the high octane feel and pacing of the anime. In general, Pandy and Retro are two "people" of sorts that awaken on Earth, naked. They don't know who they are or why they are there, and shortly after they run off on a crime spree. They are captured, and sent to Dead Leaves, a maximum security prison.

Prior to arriving at the prison, the movie seems strange due to the animation and extremely spastic pacing, but then degrades into something much more sophomoric and childish (and flat out bizarre). If there is one thing that's abundant in Dead Leaves, it's toilet humor. This ranges from things like one of the characters who is literally shaped like a penis (complete with white splooges that come from the top of his "head" (double meaning there) occasionally, which I found to be disgusting), to things like the daily ritual of the prisoners being strapped into straight jackets, hung, and then their ... excrement is literally forced/sucked out of their body. These things reminded me of something I'd see in Ren and Stimpy cartoons, but much, much worse. Quite frankly, it pushed the boundaries of what I'd enjoy, since almost the entire movie is filled with stuff like that. Then again, it's definitely unique for an anime, and I do have to give it credit for that.

Regardless, as the story goes on, the plot becomes more and more confusing and on the back burner compared to the rest of what's going on. It has a decent ending for the content, but didn't leave me feeling like I had just watched something amazing. Rather, I felt like I had watched something crazy, interesting, and unique, but not heavy or exciting on the plot.
I'll say this up front: I really didn't care for the animation. Imagine the most abstract scenes in FLCL, double how odd they are, and then imagine it's like that the entire movie. This unique style of animation was made up of giant slabs of colors that were all stuck together to make very colorful and unusual characters and scenes. Everything looked *very* 2-dimensional, almost like stained glass in a way. Even though it wasn't my thing, again, I can still admit that it was well done and interesting, just not fitting my personal tastes. I found the animation to be so distracting that at times I couldn't even see well what was going on, who was being attacked, or anything. I felt the character designs were grotesque and very unattractive, but they did fit well with the rest of the animation and the tone of the movie. There was one scene in particular where guards open fire on tons of inmates, causing a bloody mess to occur. The blood, like everything else, seemed very flat and cartoonish. Colors ranged all over the spectrum, but usually were very clashing and plentiful. You'd usually not see a scene where one color dominated. Rather, you'd see 25 colors in little bits everywhere, which is part of the reason why I was so distracted all the time.
The music fit the spasticness quite well with guitar riffs all the time. The rest of the music was forgettable, but not bad. In general, the pacing of the movie fit with the story, and the music fit with the pacing, making everything come together in a nice random package.
I'm trying to be very non-biased about this review (given the fact that I really didn't enjoy Dead Leaves, but understand it was a "good" movie), but I have to let some bias creep in for the characters section. The characters were grotesque, in my opinion, and creeped me out. Not only did they look hideous, but some were so far down in the gutter that it made me wonder why this didn't have a stronger rating attached to it. The man that is a penis was the most outrageous. Not only did they make a guy that is a penis, but they made him squirt when he was walking. I might find toilet humor funny, but this crossed the line into tacky and disgusting, as far as I'm concerned, and better belongs in a hentai. Other characters included a guy that has a drill for a penis (what's the fascination with the penis, creators of Dead Leaves?), giant monsters and other such things. None of the characters were developed and I didn't even get a good feel for their stereotypes given how distracting the animation was. Unlike things like Cat Soup where each character has their own endearing quirks, the characters in Dead Leaves ended up being offensive and uninteresting in my opinion.
I didn't enjoy Dead Leaves. If I could rate this on enjoyment, I'd probably give it a max of a 5. That being said, like FLCL, I can still appreciate how unique and strange this was, and how appealing it would be to a certain type of fan. The toilet humor is far too extreme and unprecedented, though some people might enjoy that. The animation, I felt, tried a little too hard to be crazy, but again, some might enjoy this, and it definitely was unique, I'll give it that. The plot was pretty weak, but again, I doubt that's the reason why this was made. All in all, Dead Leaves is a very strange and interesting watch that some of you might enjoy. Then again, you might not. One thing's for sure... if you are looking for something out there that's crazy, spastic, and random, you'll have to look no further.
5/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
5/10 characters
7.3/10 overall
vivafruit's avatar By vivafruit on Oct 14, 2009


There is so much unified hate towards this short little OVA that it’s difficult to really give a standard critique of the show that rates each category in the abstract.

Instead, it’s obligatory to start with why I think most people will hate this. In short, this is an anime that flips the audience the middle finger. The creators make a conscious decision that story, characters, or any real meaning whatsoever are completely unimportant. What's more, the humor is beyond tasteless, the character designs are far from appealing, and the show feels almost like a visual assault in the way it barrages the audience with flashy colors, sharp edges and constant motion.

This mix, I think, alienates just about anyone who would ever watch the thing. Pure action lovers will have never heard of such an obscure title, people who watch anime for things like “story” or “character development” are going to be sorely disappointed by an almost total lack of either, and even fans of abstract, demented stuff are going to be disgusted when they find that the show has no meat in it to analyze.

In addition, this is a show that is impossible to take the higher ground with. Unlike similar (but completely different!) works like FLCL, Paranoia Agent, or Texhnolyze, no one can get away with saying pompous shit like, “oh you didn’t like it because you didn’t understand the deep and philosophical meaning behind it.”

The problem is that Dead Leaves has no message whatsover, let alone a hidden one; everything that the OVA brings to the table is as brutally obvious as that one guy’s giant, metallic penis (don't ask).

So why, in spite of all of this, did I enjoy the OVA? I think the answer is that I appreciate the raw, prodigious talent that went into making this. The creators are so skillful at what they set out to do, so completely in tune with their own personal vision, that I enjoyed the work despite its numerous flaws.

In the end, the creators’ total commitment to making something completely unique wins out. Even if the core concept is patently retarded, the fact that an idea that has never been done before is executed so flawlessly makes the anime worth the small amount of time that it asks.


I think people place far too much value in the traditional anime look – the disproportionate girls with giant, insectoid eyes, the generic male protagonist with spiky hair, etc. I’ve found the look to be somewhat tiresome and uninspired after the 2 hundredth or so iteration.

Dead Leaves, on the other hand, has a strikingly different visual style, a far departure from anything I’ve seen. A lot of people have called this style ugly, but I loved it. It’s edgy, bold, and very memorable.

That, and the actual animation is absolutely top notch – this has the most fluid, inventive, and frenetic work I’ve seen since… ever?


Thumping techno + weird voice acting. Generally solid.






I think many people who have enjoyed this might be staying silent in the face of so much negative buzz. After all, saying, “Yeah the story and characters suck, but the action was good and I liked it!” is very difficult to do without sounding like a complete dipshit. Nonetheless, for those that enjoy the wacky wtf stuff, this should be a more than entertaining diversion.

?/10 story
9/10 animation
7/10 sound
?/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
jaycee's avatar By jaycee on Dec 8, 2010

We can skip the part where I say this is weird. If you're at all interested in this series, you already know that it's weird.

Perhaps you like FLCL. Or that Milk...thing that was on Adult Swim once upon a time. Perhaps you building up a repertoire of anime to delight or disgust your friends.

Enough speculation--you are not sufficiently prepared for this anime, but you will probably still watch it. And then you will have experienced weirdness, rather than simply knowing of it.

Along the way you may vomit.


Here's the story: Two people start out naked on Earth with no memory, get sent to a prison that is the movie's namesake, kill a lot of stuff, do a lot of weird shit, and then end up back on Earth.
I'm skipping a lot of material, but it doesn't matter. The plot is a vehicle for dick jokes, sight gags, and cartoonish--even for cartoons--ultraviolence.

This is not to say that's it no good. Just that you could have a plot about giant caterpillars and it would still work for the premise.

Wait, there is a giant caterpillar in this plot. Okay, nevermind. Moving on.


The animation feels like something you would have come across on Liquid Television in the 80s. It's hyper-cartoonish, composed of simple lines and garish colors. If that's your thing, it hangs together pretty well. The colors got a little overdone in my opinion, but it was an intriguing attempt.

The detailing is simple enough that from time to time I wasn't quite sure what I was looking at. This is a blessing in scenes though, where the constant squishing of bit characters would have been extra nauseating if rendered with any sort of detail. I mean, I wanted humor and oddities, not an Adult Swim sanitized version of Genocyber. With poop.

The artists do get props for the sound effects, which had an animated component in many scenes (think "WOOPWOOPWOOP" floating across the scene when an alarm is going off). I can't say that it actually added anything, but it was sort of neat and fit in well with the art style.


The soundtrack was largely bad rock, which seemed utterly appropriate for the material at hand. It was fairly innocuous, and tempos generally matched the pacing. I guess that's a win. I don't know, I'm not a music guy.


There were characters? I thought there was just a collection of sight gags and ambulatory pistols.
Okay, I jest. There is a teeny bit of characterization. Panda is a sarcastic chick that kills people, Retro is an overly enthusiastic, clueless macho guy who kills people. With a TV for a head. There's your characterization.

They were entertaining, but they weren't really developed. But in anime that I think is 60% pistols being shot at each other, that may be all you need.


I'd like to say you'll enjoy this. Or you won't. But I can't really tell. I'm not really sure if I enjoyed it.

But I didn't vomit.

Even though I sort of wanted to.

6/10 story
6/10 animation
5/10 sound
6/10 characters
5.8/10 overall
SerenityInMurder's avatar By SerenityInMurder on Dec 18, 2012

Dead leaves is awesome. The mindless and gratuitous violence is great. I think there should be a lot more like this.

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
10/10 overall
Howlorihara's avatar By Howlorihara on Aug 20, 2012

I don't even know what to say.  This anime is so bizarre.

Story: The story is obviously not the focus of this movie.  There is very little sense to be made where the story is concerned.  I have watched plenty of animes where the story didn't stand out over the animation.  This was one of those situations.  There is so much to look at that I find that my brain has no room to pay attention to anything that's happening.  All that I was able to make complete sense of was the show's vulgarity.  I grow tired of that kind of humor very quickly and that is what most of this movie is.  The second I saw a man with a drill for a penis I sort of checked out.  The plot, as far as you need to know, is about two beings (of somewhat unknown species) named Pandy and Retro.  They have lost their memories and proceed to go on a crime spree.  Once they are caught they are taken to a wild and technologically advanced prison.  I don't think the explanation needs to go beyond that.

Animation:  I am so torn about this animation style.  I cannot deny that the animators made something very unique when they styled this.  I also couldn't help but think that this show definitely had talented people behind it.  But I could barely keep my eyes open.  I will admit that I do have eyes that are fairly sensitive to light, but I have never found animation that truly hurt my eyes.  I am not joking.  I could hardly keep my eyes open to watch it.  I have watched some insane animation but this is the one and only anime that had me wishing I were wearing sunglasses to watch it.  This animation is so wild and colorful I can only call it sensory overload.

Sound:  Once again, we have sensory overload.  The sounds were loud, vulgar, crass and ultimately pretty unpleasant to listen to.  Yet, this felt intentional.  The creators obviously wanted some of these situations to feel uncomfortable, in which case, they did an excellent job with it.  It was not an enjoyable experience but I can appreciate what they were doing.

Characters:  The characters are vulgar lunatics.  Need I say more?  We have an admittedly creative array of criminals, all disgusting in their own right.  Everyone just seems to be a new character introduced to cause more chaos.  I am fine with that.  The action was entertaining but it doesn't leave room for much character development.

I am so utterly confused by this anime.  It's so crass that I want to say this anime is just inane but there is a part of me that keeps wondering if there is a genius to it that I'm not getting.  I would say that, even if this movie is secretly genius, it is still one of the most painful movies I have ever watched.

6/10 story
?/10 animation
6/10 sound
5/10 characters
6/10 overall