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, Nov 25. 2015 08:59 AM)
    I say this because people often like to hype up the genre or those elements. I bring this up/think about it now because I played a game called undertale lately on my brothers recommendation and he was all like it emotionally destroyed him but I never ended up crying, I mean don’t get me wrong its a good game, there were laughs to be had and there was sentiment but it wasn’t THAT sad/funny.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:44 AM)
    Given how many people cry at some drama, clannad included.
    That reminds me…
    I can’t actually remember the last time in my life where I cried, I draw a blank.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 07:58 AM)
    @Aidan: Something always feels off to me when you criticize clannad, I mean I’m critical enough of key these days too but it seems odd that you rank it as an 8 on MAL when you’ve always made it sound its more of a high 6 or a 7.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:45 AM)
    But I’m no fan of gung-ho soldier games/most fps games so I am glad clannad, a visual novel outsold call of duty.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:44 AM)
    I said it once I’ll say it again. I preferred the clannad movie over the tv series, had more style, a more mature feel to it and cut out all the superfluous arcs/comedy for the better. It also concludes better than the series. The emotional involvement in the kyoani version doesn’t work for me anymore, doesn’t hold up. However the film remains emotionally engaging after revisiting it.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:19 AM)
    Holy hell Clannad is selling like hotcakes on Steam. Even beat Call of Duty in sales at one point.
    Kinda happy to see a VN get recognised and it would help open up the market for more titles to come over. But..well..Clannad really isn’t all that great.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 02:29 AM)
    I can remember when I first got into anime when I was a whole lot younger I always said I would watch lodoss war, El Hazard and slayers, yet I never ended up doing so…
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:34 AM)
    Ha, the child in me would love to see a film like that I’d imagine, when I was young I was pretty crazy about Egyptian supernatural stuff.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:23 AM)
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:22 AM)
    @Kaiser: yeah, even tho it was his highest grossing movie it managed to brought his career to a stand-still. His next film Gods of Egypt looks like it could be fun, albeit it’s just as much as a CGIfest as I, Robot. Egyptian stuff is admittedly rather intriguing, I remember a 2004 French film Immortel ad vitam that blended that with modern themes that became popular for a while.

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