a.k.a. Manie-Manie Meikyu Monogatari
In Labyrinth Labyrinthos, a little girl follows her cat into a dark and different world. In Running Man, a pro-racer uses psychic powers to kill off his opponents. And in Construction Cancellation Order, a salaryman must go into the jungle to try and get his company’s robots to stop an unnecessary project… but will they listen?
summary by Ender
Highs: Bizarre and imaginative story concepts
Lows: Over before it begins
Before The Animatrix, Memories, and Robot Carnival, three of anime’s best directors (Rintaro, Kawajiri Yoshiaki, and Otomo Katsuhiro) took on the world of anthology film-making. Three short works, three legendary directors; that should be enough of a selling point to get anyone to watch Manie Manie.
The film’s total running time is 50 minutes, roughly 16 minutes for each story. When broken down, each tiny film has something unique that the directors try to bring out. Rintaro creates a beautifully bizarre/magical/spooky world in Labyrinth Labyrinthos for the protagonist to get lost in, complete with clowns and demons. Kawajiri showcases his early Ninja Scroll ideas with some very finely tuned violence and facial expressions in Running Man. And Otomo brings out his wonderful anti-social sentiment, cyber punk designs and ideas with Construction Cancellation Order. All together, these three films work like a series of well-thought science fiction stories chiseled with animation that only Japan could provide.
That’s not to say these little gems are without their flaws. Construction Cancellation Order ends right before its intended climax. Labyrinth Labyrinthos is not so much a story as it is a story idea. And Running Man feels like an exercise in style than a full-fledged plot. It’s a real shame, too, as stated before that these anime have a lot of potential. And yet it seems that the directors (Otomo, in particular) got fed up with what they were working on. Rather than trying to reach the level of craftsmanship that would later be seen in other anthologies, they went for the easiest goals. Add this to the short running time, and the audience gets kicked off the roller coaster before it reaches the first drop.
If nothing else, Manie Manie: The Labyrinth Tales seems to serve as a dress rehearsal for the directors’ later, better works (Captain Harlock: Eternal Odyssey; Steamboy; Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust), this film still retains a sense of odd curiosity lost in many of today’s works. It is definitely worth a look. Just be prepared for the inevitable disappointment.
Manie Manie: The Labyrinth Tales can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.