Neo Tokyo

Tagged: Film

Japanese animated film (1987). Original title Meikyū Monogatari; vt Manie-Manie. Based on the works of Taku Mayumura. Project Team Argos, Madhouse. Directed and written by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Katsuhiro Ōtomo and Rintaro. Executive producer Haruki Kadokawa. Voice cast includes Banjō Ginga, Yū Mizushima, Hiroshi Ōtake and Hideko Yoshida. 50 minutes. Colour.

A science fiction Anthology film built around three tales from Mayumura's Meikyū Monogatari (coll of linked stories 1986). The Japanese title translates as Tales of the Labyrinth; the film's English title (for its 1992 release) was apparently chosen to imply a connection with Akira (1988), despite this being limited to Ōtomo's involvement with both films.

In "Labyrinth Labyrinthos", Sachi (Yoshida), a baggy trousered young girl, passes through portals (including a mirror) with her cat: they experience children's toys and commuters. Though the imagery is dark, Sachi retains a cheerful interest; the cat is more wary. A clown, probably intended to be creepy rather than irritating, guides them to a circus where they watch the next story, "Running Man". This concerns Zack Hugh (Ginga), a driver in the Death Circus races (see Games and Sports): while most drivers don't last a year, Zach is approaching his tenth. The vehicles themselves are advanced Technology, but Zach has developed Telekinesis to destroy his opponents – the exertion eventually kills him, though this does not prevent him from pursuing a phantasmal vehicle after the final race has ended, until he merges with it.

The final and longest story is "Construction Cancellation Order". In the Near Future, a tropical country's new revolutionary government (see Politics) has ordered a Japanese company to cease its operations: salaryman Sugioka (Mizushima) is instructed to close their giant construction site, as the supervisor – the only human present – has disappeared. The work is all done by Robots and Sugioka discovers the one in charge, 444-1 (Ōtake), considers any attempt to halt work as a threat to keeping on schedule. There is conflict: Sugioka eventually defeats 444-1 and goes to shut everything down, missing the news that a counter-revolution has reinstalled the old government. The film now briefly returns to Sachi and her cat, then ends.

All three stories are visually interesting with different styles. "Labyrinth Labyrinthos", save for the clown, is an enjoyably surreal experience, showing the influence of the Alice novels by Lewis Carroll. "Running Man" is good too, if overlong for its content: we see a great deal of Zach's straining face. The first two stories have some mocking of white-collar life and machismo, respectively; but "Labyrinth" is more overtly satirical, of business and politics. It is the most conventional (and humorous) of the three stories, and also the best. [SP]

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