Published on April 19th, 2014 | by Michaela Buckley0
Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day
Outside of Akira, Katsuhiro Otomo is known for helping produce and direct compilation animé films, such as; Neo Tokyo, Robot Carnival and Memories, his most recent endeavour being ‘Short Peace’, a collection of animé shorts featuring other directors as well as himself.
In the UK, this has been released as part of a package along with Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day by Suda 51, a side-scrolling, action game by the same company that brought us that wonderful gem Killer is Dead, which I loved so much.
The animé has 4 stories, the first of which, ‘Possessions’, was nominated for the Best Animated Short at the Oscars this year, concerns everyday Japanese objects which have become possessed with spirits after years of neglect and a lost seamstress who happens upon them. The art style is bold and defined, with lots of Japanese folklore effused in the story and animation. Probably the oddest and most unique, the surreal depictions and sound design are the obvious indicators for its acclaim.
Also inspired heavily by Japanese culture is ‘Combustible’, a tale of a geisha whose sweetheart leaves to become a fireman, the art style is reminiscent of Ancient Japanese art, with cream, black hues and an isometric angle in most scenes. This is probably the most beautiful of the shorts and also the shortest, the abruptness and lack of immersion, not having enough time for the story to become attached, make it somewhat frustrating.
The PEGI-16 rating this collection carries is clearly certified in mind of ‘Gambo’, the third feature about a disheveled ronin who enters a village that is plagued with an amourous oni who visits and nicks the women, meanwhile, Polar Bear. The most ludicrous and unexplained of the lot, Gambo ‘bears’ all, literally, the gore, tits and more are quite shocking, a bit like the voice acting which is sketchy in parts, the ending also a let down by introducing stupid and unnecessary shovel ideas into an already brilliantly realised animation, however the fluid animation and action are more than enough to make up for it.
The final part, ‘A Farewell to Weapons’ is my favourite with more traditional animation and utilises the style of Otomo, the short presents a futuristic world where soldiers don Power Armour (the real kind) and destroy unmanned robotic vehicles. The scenes offer more dialogue than previously and the action scenes are extremely well animated, as befits the expectation following his signature art, being the longest, it would seem they really blew all the budget here too. The armour depicted are the best I have ever seen on-screen, they look realistic and seem to function the way they ought. The plot is Philip K. Dick-esque which suits me fine, but the tone shifts somewhat uncomfortably to a shaky ending, losing traction after a pretty good impact.
Overall the animé was fun and thought -provoking, the new ideas and settings in older Japan are welcome, the high quality of animation is astounding, still though, I think that the two especial favourite shorts of mine in Memories are still much more enjoyable and mind-bending than anything Short Peace has to offer.
Aaaand now for the fifth additional piece, well… the less said the better really.
The gameplay of Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day is very monotonous, it only has a couple of buttons and aims, go right, jump and hit shit, occasionally the game will do something dickish and loop which you won’t notice until the fifth or so run-through because both the artistic and level design are so generic, you also have to do something arbitrary before you are allowed to escape, nice. There are a few boss battles, which the gameplay changes for each, from awkward platforming to slow shmups and some really aggravating ‘faux’ wrestling. The best thing about this game is the cut-scenes, at the start you will be counting down the seconds for him to decide he has tired of the facade of storylines and jumps abruptly to the action or simply something weird or random happens, but as the short, 50 minute game continues, these scenes descend into hilarious self-parody, which is actually enjoyable.
The game isn’t worth it, but if you want to own the animé it is the only way to go, the only saving grace after purchase being the elaborate ridiculousness of the game’s ever-changing cut-scenes. I paid £37.99 for this game, even including the storyboard artbook that came with it, it is still horrendous value for money, with the animé totalling 68 minutes and the game only 50, you only get 2 hours for a full-priced release. Perhaps it should have been renamed ‘Short Piece’.