In a span of a few days I was able to finish watching Genius Party and Genius Party Beyond. As I’ve undertaken to tear down my immense backlog I had to watch the anime I had on my PC. Most of what was left unwatched were artsy anime because I was looking for anything to fill up the gap left by Tatami Galaxy. Sadly, only the passage of time aided in that pursuit, as I have never been able to see anything as majestic and as well executed as that series. Most have merely been exercises in avant-garde art, and the majority of Genius Party is no exception.
Among the eleven short films, I can wholeheartedly recommend only two: I recommend Baby Blue from the original Genius Party anthology, and Toujin Kit from Genius Party Beyond. Beautiful art in anime is worthless if not founded upon a solid, well-written plot. Plot should not be sacrificed for art’s sake: it is with the same disgust that I think of both Finnegans Wake and Limit Cycle, for example. Incomprehensibility and complexity are not verisimilar entities: the former is found in subpar excursions; the latter is found in well-made masterpieces.
While I hesitate from labeling both Baby Blue and Toujin Kit as masterpieces, both share a subdued brilliance that insinuates, but never directly tells, a nuanced complexity beneath what is seen. Baby Blue deals with friendship and loss, two themes that I am fond of seeing in well-made anime; Toujin Kit is less positive and somewhat bleaker, but can be thought of as an allegory to the stifling of creativity for the sake of normalcy or conformity. The creation of a being is prohibited by law, but despite that a rogue woman attempts to create colorful beings that sparkle with fecundity. The ending is both tempering and thought-provoking: the creation that she could perhaps call her masterpiece, her biggest presentation of life yet, was hunted and was killed by a mechanical creation. Defeated, she slumped as she waited for her indictment. Her last gasp to celebrate life was mechanically extinguished. All of this is presented with subdued colors and a bleakness that is reflected by that. I would rather this bleakness than entries such as Limit Cycle and Dimension Bomb that are ‘full of sound and fury, [yet] signifying nothing.’ Minimalism is just as effective as moderation in any medium as long as it is presented well. Baby Blue and Toujin Kit execute this minimalism successfully – and that’s why they are the only good films in both anthologies.