Posted by psgels on 25 July 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews, Genius Party



Ah, of course. Robot Carnival had Robots, the Animatrix had the Matrix and Genius Party has imagination. Every short movie is about imagination in one way or the other. Shanghai Dragon is the work of Shoji Kawamori, the guy behind Macross, who is currently directing Macross Frontier. There are indeed plenty of grand mecha-battles in this one, but I don’t think that you can predict what this one will be about, just by looking at Kawamori’s other series.

First of all, Shanghai Dragon is about a pair of Chinese kids (who also speak Chinese), but it’s also a satire, parodying the trope of the useless kid who suddenly finds the ultimate weapon. It’s just this time, the ultimate weapon is more ultimate than ever, and the kid also couldn’t be more useless. And yet, these have been some fun 20 minutes of airtime, mostly thanks to an adorable cast of characters, which manages to be dynamic, despite the short length of only 20 minutes.

It’s strange, though: the space-soldiers in this short speak Japanese, while the kids are Chinese, and they seem to have no problem understanding each other. The biggest flaw of this short, however, is the rather intrusive CG that sometimes doesn’t flow well with the other animation at all. Shoji Kawamori obviously couldn’t get the same budget for this episode as for an average Macross Frontier episode, and this shows. And it’s a shame, because the other graphics look pretty interesting.

Overall, Shanghai Dragon nothing special, but without a doubt a fun way to spend 20 minutes. Like Genius Party (the first short of Genius Party), it’s also full of symbolism. It may not be the most subtle storyline, but it’s both a parody and homage to an overused cliché in anime. It may start out like a joke in the beginning, but it ends strangely heart-warming.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 8/10

6 Responses

  1. omo says:

    I really like this clip…but I don’t know if your estimate on budget is true or not. It seems as if most of the background in the show are CG to begin with, and they added that extra fuzzy CG to differentiate it from the others.

    Given how fluidly this is animated compare to your average Macross Frontier episode, I would think the budget (and resources spent in general) was much higher in it than anything from MacF.

  2. senerikfred says:

    Subbed version assists well for details-they DID have trouble understanding each other at first, but then the guy who wasn’t Sai (Chinkuro, I think?) activated some sort of translation device thing he had.
    I actually liked the use of CG here, and didn’t find it intrusive. So many awesome fight scenes. Meh, opinions.
    How is everything ‘imagination’ related? Several are, strongly, even Doorbell as a stretch. I have a hard time saying that for Baby Blue, though.

  3. Denizen says:

    I loved this episode so much, it felt like an epic movie crammed into 20 minutes, which was nice.

  4. Reiter says:

    What an awesomely epic and cute story! The little kid is pretty adorable (geez, just how much snot can come out of that boy’s nose?) and the part where he draws his own Ultraman/Power Ranger suit to fight off the evil mecha was both funny and made of pure win. Another great scene was when Sai (the bald cyborg) drops in to save the day with nothing but a cigar and his six-shooter.

    The premise behind this one short episode seems like light years ahead of what many of today’s mainstream anime shows have to offer. I for one wouldn’t mind at all finding out what happens to the kids and their futuristic guardians. The cute happy ending certainly leaves it open for that.

    I also really liked the fact that kids actually spoke Chinese as opposed to what other shows have done with characters speaking supposedly different languages but still manage to revert to Japanese or some really bad Engrish (Black Lagoon is guilty of this). I’m fairly sure the creators were also trying to make some sort of commentary by equating the kids with innocence and imagination and the adults with soulless technology that’s grown out of control.

    Overall, I really enjoyed this ep of Genius Party!

  5. Ilsa says:

    for me, this was one of stories that leaves nice and warm feeling inside. and i had a good laugh, too. also, hearing kids speak in chinese (it took me a while to believe my ears:)) was added bonus!

  6. Silverya says:

    They understand each other because one of the guys (non-bald, not the guy called Sai) set up a two-way translation with the device on his arm :)

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 01:34 PM)
    @Bam: They’d never allow bringing in toys/games/comics back when I was in school, they thought bringing in such things would make the kids of lower income families feel bad for not being able to afford things.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 01:31 PM)
    @Mario: He’s actually not a big fan of Iranian cinema, he told me before that he found most of it overly depressing.
    Now what you’re talking about there sounds like my kind of film.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 01:30 PM)
    @Bam: I’ll get back into the mainstream blockbusters thing as much as I used to be someday. someday….
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 01:28 PM)
    @Bam: Well, I guess I more brought up the being accused of hipsterism and contrarianism referring to the type of hypothetical person who would never be satisfied with how well you’d defend your opinion.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 01:25 PM)
    Thats the awkward thing though, when casting a superhero role, its difficult to find someone who can get both identities correct.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 01:23 PM)
    Bah implying toxic avenger and Italian spiderman aren’t the best superhero films OmO hahaha!
  • SuperMario
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 08:50 AM)
    Hey Bam, I remember attended a preview on one of an upcoming Iranian animated feature called The Last Fiction. it was inspired by the poem “Shahnameh” and from what I had seen so far, a very stylish, confident and “bloody” work. Expected to be complete in the end of 2017 thou.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 06:37 AM)
    Comic books were super rare and expensive in Iran, being banned and all. Rich kids in elementary would bring them to school to show them off, along with their Ninja Turtles action figures; they looked so cool and I was hella jealous. Me and my brother only had the bootleg Toxic Crusader figures lol
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 06:34 AM)
    @K-off: I didn’t read the comics either. I watched that weird 60s show, and Spiderman and the Amazing Friends, which had Firestar and the ice guy. I know his personality was quippy and kind of a wise-ass, and McGuire looks kinda like a rape victim of sorts. It was a lot better in costume, I admit.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 06:29 AM)
    I mean if we use the term fanboy for whenever someone feels strongly about something, then what’ll we have left for people who LARP and insist to be called by their WoW character names and dress up in gear and persistently speak in fake ‘Ol English?

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