Neo Tokyo

Movie (1 ep x 50 min)
3.349 out of 5 from 1,155 votes
Rank #9,127

Neo-Tokyo (commonly called Manie-Manie Monogatari) is a collection of three sci-fi stories, based on the stories of Taku Mayumura. "Labryinth Labyrithos", "The Running Man", and "Order To Stop Construction" were directed by Rintarou, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, and Katsuhiro Otomo, respectively. Ranging from an abstract demented clown to malfunctioning robots, each of these short stories are sure to entertain.

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This is a highly artful (if implicit and surreal) telling of what I interpret to be a kid's internal journey in growing up, at first viewing the adult world and the passing of time with angst, yet being very eager to find out more about it. The kid is shown allegorical glimpses of the extreme aspects of what grown-up life can entail, and then comes to a conclusion about it. What an absolutely great and well-executed philosophical ride! To better explain what I saw to form such a high opinion, below is my more detailed summary of what I think went on in the film, with SOME LIGHT SPOILERS but mostly my own interpretation. Part 1 Sachi is a child with a child's mind. She views the adult world as strange and oppressive, and the notions of time passing by and inevitability of adulthood and death are unresolved sources of uneasiness for her. She plays for a bit as children do, and while meditating on the boring and scary world of adults, she also gets fascinated by it (or her immature concept of it) and wants to chase it down and get a taste of it, as children so often do. Sachi is obliged and she gets to see parts of it in great detail – her seeing the same or analogous things as the following shorts is implied. Part 2 A portrayal of passion, highly developed skill, competition, and an attempt to evade inevitable death for as long as possible, at the possible cost of your soul and body's wellbeing. Part 3 A portrayal of the seriousness, rigidness and counterproductive arbitrariness and stubbornness of work life and society. Part 4 Having seen the extremeness, insanity and gravity of the adult world, Sachi is finally treated to a more light-hearted carnivalistic showcase of what grown-up life can be. She now sees the previously creepy and unrelatable carnival (as seen around 9:15) as something more friendly and approachable: her perspective has shifted. Sachi finally makes up her mind, which is an emphatic YES to all that fun and messy madness! The TV set and laughter at the end can be interpreted as the underlying hilarity of life in general, from a more grand and unattached perspective. We don't know something and someone or something finds it absolutely hilarious.


I really enjoyed this. It had everything that Robot Carnival didn't – vibrancy, humour, charm, originality, and something interesting to offer. It also doesn't make the mistake of being too long. Though I wouldn't really call the majority of this OAV "experimental", this style of films with quirky, avant-garde direction tend to get boring and repetitive over time. The three shorts that make up this collection keep it snappy, and sacrifice none of their brilliance for doing so. The opening feature, directed by the infamous Rintaro, sets the scene for a child's fantasy, only to twist in a morbid direction near the end to present the following two, darker tales. What is it about cats and anime/manga? They must surely be the most common animal/sidekick. The fat black example in this piece reminds me of the bad-ass star of the Legend of the Galactic Pirates, not to mention the brilliant What's Michael manga by Makoto Kobayashi. The piece presents a dreamy neko-fantasy world of childhood imagination and modern art. I was reminded of more of Rintaro and Madhouse's work, for example Doomed Megalopolis or CLAMP's Tokyo Babylon. I liked it a lot, though it did almost seem out of place in light of the second two episodes. The middle piece is easily the weakest, though not without it's charm. A well-used scenario in manga and anime forms the basis of Yoshiaki Kawajiri's (The Cockpit, Barefoot Gen) effort – high-speed, deadly races. Think Battle Angel Alita/Ashen Victor, Venus Wars, etc. It is good, however. In fact it is almost terrifying in places. The plot revolves around a seasoned pilot of superstar status. He has stayed alive longer than most, and suffers terrible stress as a result. He also just happens to have extraordinary mental abilities. The idea is stupid and the plot is tired, but bear in mind that this is more than 20 years old now, and the scenery designs are poetic Japanese visions of the future at their best. Characters resemble the best aspects of The Legend of the Four Kings or Golgo 13, and the music is fitting, and good. Katsuhiro Ōtomo's short finishes the OAV. A lot of people go mental about this film from what I've read. It is indeed good, but comments like "a shorter Akira!!!" are wrong. The only real similarities are in the designs, and that's what happens when an anime director makes two films, dumbass. The Order to Stop Construction, as it is called, concerns another well used concept in Japanese media – the tool becoming independent. Robots are employed to construct an immense complex in inhospitable climes, but someone gets their wires crossed (get it?) and the robotic interpretation of commands is not up for negotiation. Again, the scenery designs are fantastic – intricate and gritty in typical Ōtomo style, and the characters and robots also carry his trademark blocky look. Scenes of rainforest are not often featured in Ōtomo's work, preferring as he does visions of the concrete jungle, but here they are beautiful, and sit comfortably with the huge structures of the project as the endless process of growth and regrowth characterized by the dumb robots as well. So beautiful, in fact, that I'm reminded of Kunihiko Yuyama's awesome Windaria. No small praise indeed. I was reminded of the existence of Neo Tokyo whilst researching Robot Carnival. Both are supposed to be "experimental anime" of a similar variety. That is wrong. The only thing the two anthologies have in common is the involvement of Katsuhiro Ōtomo. Robot Carnival sucks. Something else which Neo Tokyo achieves which Robot Carnival cannot, is that it hasn't aged. Whilst Robot Carnival had a soundtrack of 80s disco and designs of frumpy 80s Japan, Neo Tokyo has managed to avoid such rubbish, despite being made before the former. One thing it didn't get right, or rather we in the West didn't, was the dubbing. It's bloody awful, and I was thankful for the dual-language file. The acting is bad, and the actors are miscast. Douchebags.

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