‘I kinda hate myself for liking this’
Studio: Production IG, Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi, Script: Takeichi Honda and Imai Toonz
Well then, its time for a blast from the recent past. Yeah only a decade has past since this OVA has come out, but 'recent past' still counts. Also, its the debut as director for Hiroyuki Imaishi. So yes Dead Leaves it is.
Umm yeah it is about a duo of anti-heroes of sorts and their wild adventure in the far off future. They are Pandy, a buxom babe and Retro, a dude with a TV for a head. The movie starts up stranded on a wasteland both with memory loss, and very much in the nude. They team up for a bank robbery which leads to a rather disjointed manic car chase action sequence.They are however caught by the police and sent to a prison on the moon, which is a disfigured crescent in the sky. This in turn leads to the most glorious sex scene ever in anime outside of a hentai though our duo escape along with some other prisoners, leading to more shenanigans. I won’t spoil any further as this has to be seen to be believed.
Dead Leaves is a weird and surreal mess. me trying to recount the plot much less the story is hard to do even after watching it half a dozen times over the course of many years like I have. I was constantly screaming WTF and laughing my butt off often at the same time.
In many ways, Dead Leaves is a perfect display of Imaishi style even for a debut feature. Be it the fast kinetic direction and pacing or elaborate storyboarding. But this stuff is at the expense of sense or logic, its animated insanity. Of course this is looking at it as a standalone work, isolated from a historical perspective. Looking at it from a historical career sense, Dead Leaves becomes a step in the evolution of one animator’s style over time.
Imaishi started out as an animator on Evangelion back in 1995. He continued with work on other Gainax series in late 90s/early 00s (notably episode 19 of Kare Kano, FLCL episode 5, and Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi episodes 3 and 12). Then he did this as his first outing as a director and it certainly feels an effort from a first timer, a good effort if a little uneven in parts and places. After that, he directed Gurren Lagann and later Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. In fact, PSG feels like a more refined version of Dead Leaves, which both in turn are lovely tributes to the schlocky era of bloody violent and vulgar OVAs from the late 80s/early 90s. Heck Kill la Kill, his most current TV show and 2nd collaboration with Kazuki Nakashima, this OVA gets a nice mention (by that I mean ‘spot or you’ll miss it’) in the very first episode of that series.
Also the release history of this OVA is rather interesting. The original Japanese release dates to January 2004. It got a release here in the States on DVD and UMD (remember those? yeah me neither) within the next year by Manga Entertainment. It also got a TV broadcast on Sci-Fi Channel Ani-Monday block in Jan 2008 which is probably one of the early times that I watched it. The dub was done by Gaijin Productions, the ADR company Amanda Winn Lee and her husband formed after leaving ADV and moving from Texas to LA. They have done only 4 dubs: this, the Read or Die OVA (arguably the best out of the bunch in my humble opinion), and Evangelion Rebirth and End of Eva movies. Granted Amanda Winn Lee is still somewhat in the voice acting business, recently showing last year in the Persona 4 The Animation dub. The dub is OK and rather apt for such a cartoony and insane short movie, in a way harking back to the early ADV Films catalog of dubs that the Amanda Winn Lee was very much involved in. Although the only actors notable here are Amanda Winn Lee and her husband Jason C Lee playing the main duo but that’s about it.
I’ll end this review by saying yeah Dead Leaves is a wild crazy but fun movie. Lucky for you all, Manga Entertainment has the whole thing up on Youtube so you can see and watch it for yourself and decide on your own.
Next time, well its time for an actual blast from my past.....