Knabbing the top spot in our Top 10 Manga Productions, Dead Leaves is not for everyone. The action is frantic and uncontrollable, the plot is reminiscent of something Lewis Carroll would dream up, and it has an almost childish sense of humor. This is not a film for the kids or the squeamish. The story line is simple and not really required. The pace and energy level of the story are reminisent of the anime Fooly Cooly, but much more anarchic and intense. The story takes place after a violent robbery and chase scene where our main characters are packed into a prison of no return on the moon. They are fed, purges, and packed of into a cell where a momentary indiscretion somehow catapults them into a jailbreak.
Involving the producers of Ghost in the Shell, three drunken Japanese legends claimed to have blown nearly the entire budget in the first ten minutes of the picture The characters our heroes meet along the way are far too funny and silly. This is also packed with some memorable one liners as well. There are some definite western influences present, and the animation is very reminiscent of Peter Chung’s works. The one problem I had with this anime was the length. I can imagine if you paid retail for this you would be getting tired of spending so much money on something that doesn’t even go past an hour. I wish it was at least ten minutes longer, making it a full hour and therefore a movie.
Dead Leaves is great fun, a new experience and not for faint-hearted or over conservative. As I say it’s raw, brutal and blunt; the writers have held back in no respects whatsoever. They try to insert a point and a story with a unique poem that the two heros can barely remember as they are suffering from amnesia. Though you may raise an eyebrow the first few minutes of the film, the next few will have you wide-eyed and open-mouthed. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it, and have owned various DVD releases of it and watched them many times, each viewing finding something new. I mean, there is a reason why we chose it as the number one position in our Top 10, even if it sports such a short running time.
I think this movie is one of the coolest anime movies I have ever seen. The transfer as a whole is a mess. Cult Epics has provided a strange looking transfer with most of the film letterboxed in 1.85:1 and don’t hold your breath for a Blu-ray release anytime soon. I can’t stress how good this film is, but it’s more for the kind of person who watches manga films for the violence, comedy and vibrant animation than people who like intense plotlines, dark and moody drawing and the like. I haven’t sold you, then let me just go on to say one inmate has a penis that’s also a drill. Yes, really. Actually, that might have driven you away, but you should still give this anime a shot. Recommended whole-heartedly.