Pandy and Retro wake up naked one day without a clue as to what they are and how they got there. So they do what any person in their shoes would: blow things up. Soon they are captured by the police and taken to the remains of the moon, which is now a hi-tech, maximum security prison filled with the most malevolent inmates and security personnel ever. The name of the prison is Dead Leaves… and Pandy and Retro want out…
summary by Ender
Highs: Brain-frying animation and style
Lows: Did I mention the brain-frying?
This was one of those anime I could not review for a long time. When I tried to give a valid critical view on it, I would find myself rambling on about gun-toting televisions and cosmic space-worms. That being said, I still have no idea what I just watched. All I know is that it went into my head, wrecked a whole lot of stuff and now I’m debating whether or not to invite it over again.
This 50-minute, one-shot OVA from Imaishi Hiroyuki (FLCL‘s and Re: Cutey Honey‘s mad art director) follows the same experimental vein of Blood: The Last Vampire and Kai Doh Maru. Aside from assistance from computers, Dead Leaves‘ style is very original. Hiroyuki did the character designs and animation direction, and does it show! The whole production looks like what would happen if you granted life to graffiti in a South American alley, threw hornets at it and then gave it weapons. Bullets fly all around, things explode, people are torn apart, more things get blown up and everything just goes straight down the toilet to hell… which is kind of fun, if you don’t get offended.
Despite the avant-garde style, Dead Leaves doesn’t want to offer much else. I don’t know whether the director wanted it this way, or whether it’s just a small (read: major) oversight on the writer’s part, but I’m not quite sure what this was all about. Are we supposed to like the characters? Where did they come from? Why all the destruction? Where are we? Though most of these questions hit you after the fact, it’s still quite vexing to have so much style but no direction accessible anywhere.
This should be watched by people who are easily offended as well as those who are not; the resulting thoughts may prove to be quite amusing. There will be people who will either be turned off or on by this sort of thing. But as it stands, Dead Leaves did manage to entertain me for the short while it was on-screen, and that does count for something. Maybe I’m just open-minded, or maybe I’m just crazy. Give it a gander, no harm in that. Or at least I hope not.
Highs: A sense of order amidst the chaos
Lows: Too long for its frenetic pace
Watching Dead Leaves is like going under the knife for a frontal lobotomy. This OVA, at 50 minutes in length, is a complete mind orgy from beginning to end and left me a drooling mess afterwards. But despite the mass slaughtering of brain cells, I could not tear my eyes away even for a second, no matter how hard I tried.
My only beef with this anime is that I felt that I was riding on a never-ending roller coaster set in an oxygen deprivation chamber. Sensory overload is fine when dished out piecemeal; at nearly an hour in length, Dead Leaves‘ unrelenting eccentricity became less of a treat and more of a chore towards the end. Any longer and I would have raised the white flag in surrender.
Nevertheless, this anime could claim “entertainment” as its nom de plume, and you would get no argument from me. Fans of FLCL, in particular the gunfight between Haruko and Commander Amarao in episode 5, will settle into the surreal artstyle fairly quickly, though regardless of one’s background, it does take a minute to make the adjustment. Everything is done in a wonderfully comical, over-the-top fashion that makes no bones about dipping into the risqué; make no mistake, Dead Leaves relishes in sexual depravity and violence, so tuck the little ones in bed beforehand.
There are two excellent scenes that are at the pinnacle of great editing. They both involve slow motion and agonizing, dramatic build-up of such a level that had white doves and gold plated pistols been included, I would’ve definitely scoured the ending credits for signs of action director John Woo. As you can imagine, Dead Leaves can provide the added spice to your otherwise bland anime collection… but you might want to keep some antacids on hand, for this is certainly a kick to the stomach.
Dead Leaves can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.