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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  • k-off
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 07:58 AM)
    @Vincent As a documentary, the film is excellent. But as a movie, it stumbles on it’s pacing, as the story will be familiar to anyone who’s watched the Twilight Zone. It has amazing production though (they did film on-board the actual USS Nimitz with actual jets) but it ends of squandering many of it thanks to its predictability. However, if you’re interested in watching F14 jets beating the shit out of Zero fighters, go ahead.
  • Vincent
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 07:52 AM)
    @K-Off I haven’t watched that film. Sounds like something I’d watch though. How good is it?
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 07:48 AM)
    That was a good day for manga, two tsumi to batsu chapters, one koe to katachi chapter, last 6 chapters of ikigami, chapter of sidonia, one of scipio to Hannibal and one of himegoto seifuku.
  • k-off
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 07:34 AM)
    Hey Vincent, I read a little bit of that Zipang manga you were ranting about, and I realized that’s it’s most likely a copy of Don Taylor’s the Final Countdown. The similarity is uncanny.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 07:34 AM)
    So sidonia chptr 66, all begins to unravel about Nagate.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 05:26 AM)
    I realy like that Bjork video/song all is full of love, lots of weird looking stuff in that.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 05:24 AM)
    @Bam: I am currently watching/listening to this one:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJjhagh8dk4
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 05:21 AM)
    @Bam: I’m not very informed or hugely overly into music myself so theres probably alot better feedback others could give =<
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 05:19 AM)
    @Bam: I had a look at those two videos you mention, the first one is well match to the song, good piece of music, very ethereal/surreal stuff, the second video, I cared more for the song repetitive as it may have be. I guess you could then after two videos and a whole album I like what I hear.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Oct 1. 2014 04:30 AM)
    @Emma: The Understanding and Melody AM are their best studio albums. The vocals depend on who’s doing that specific track, Robyn is usually pretty good. Check out the music videos if you haven’t seen them yet, specially What Else Is There and Eple.

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