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Sweat Punch

Entry updated 3 May 2021. Tagged: TV.

Japanese Original Video Animation (OVA) (2001-2002; 2007; vt Deep Imagination). Studio 4°C. Voice cast includes Enapok, Shino Kakinuma, Ai Maeda, Hikaru Midorikawa and Rumi Shishido. An anthology of five 8-13 minute sf and fantasy shorts; 57 minutes in total. Colour.

The four issues (2001-2002) of the DVD magazine Grasshoppa! contained, in all, 30 live-action and Anime short films. Each included a work created by Studio 4°C, in a series called Sweat Punch. In 2007 an omnibus DVD was released, adding a new short. Its English title was Deep Imagination. The director/writer of each segment is shown in brackets after the title:

Professor Dan Petory's Blues; original title Tanpetori Kyouju no Yuuutsu (Hidekazu Ohara). The hand puppet of a drunken professor gives a television lecture on why UFOs fly in zig-zags, with backing singers. The changing shape of constellations over Time is also discussed. An attempt at Humour that does not come off, this is the weakest of the shorts.

End of the World (Osamu Kobayashi). After they meet during a Lolita 18 punk concert, the Alien girl Yuko (Shishido) goes to Kazumi's (Kakinuma) apartment, whereupon the Robot Face (Enapok) steps out of the television and greets Yuko: a portal opens and, leaving a shocked Kazumi behind, they travel to a world of crucifixions and sadists (see Life on Other Worlds) to battle its creator and Queen (Midorikawa). Yuko's blade arm and blue gun bring only temporary success and she is near death when Kazumi appears – whereupon, possessed by Yuko, she kills the Queen, despite their insistence the world will disappear if they die: "I have to stop the suffering" she replies, and shoots. Sure enough, the world ends (see End of the World); Kazumi wakes up in her apartment holding the gun. The story is rushed but exciting; it is not clear whether any serious point concerning existence and suffering is intended.

Comedy; original title Kigeki (Kazuto Nakazawa). Set in Ireland, a child (Maeda) travels through the Black Forest to the ruined Devil's Castle to ask the Black Swordsman (Midorikawa) to save her village from an English attack. She gives him an old book, having heard he would only accept payment in "rare books of a specific genre". Reading it he smiles and agrees, killing and devouring 200 English knights. 15 years later she discovers that "long, long ago", when laughter was considered a vice, humorous works had been burnt; she realizes she must have given him such a book. The Studio's website states the short was "Based on Shubert's [sic] Lucifer", a work that does not appear to exist, though Franz Schubert's Erlkönig (in English, Erlking ie. elf king) is in the soundtrack (as is his Ave Maria); significantly, the Swordsman is a young man, but appears to have lived for centuries (see Supernatural Creatures). Events also suggest this is an Alternate History. With beautiful monochromatic imagery and a subdued tone, tinged with Horror, Religion and a little humour, this excellent piece is the collection's stand-out.

Beyond; original title Higan (Yasushi Muraki). Mecha and tanks battle in a forest (see Military SF); then the film cuts to a hospital where a combatant dies. A doctor remarks how peaceful he is – "at least he didn't suffer" – but we realize his last hours were spent in shock, reliving the fight. The battle animation is impressive.

A Wake in Garakuta Town; original title Garakuta no Machi; vt Junk Town (Nobutake Ito). The new piece. A boy follows a small robot that devours other robots, extruding a train of segments as it does so. At a junkyard it consumes enough material to become a humanoid robot and threatens the workers, but the boy pleads with it: "Robots can't hurt humans. It's a law." (see Laws of Robotics). Eventually it breaks down into pieces and its original form runs off. Later, it reappears and follows the boy, but now trails a seemingly endless chain of parts. An enjoyable piece, with nice background details.

With varied moods and animation styles – those of Comedy and Beyond being particularly memorable – and all but one story being at least good, this was a strong, entertaining collection. Studio 4°C also produced two more notable OVA anthologies, the Genius Party series (which see). [SP]


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