Series Review

Kyle Jones Month Part III

Kyle Jones Month Part 3

written by TheEclecticDude and Ryugama628 (who also provided edits/revisions)

So, after finishing Kanon 2006, Kyle Jones, like most of his colleagues at the time, left work at ADV, details of which would be an article onto themselves. What he did after that is unknown, though Jones also does copywriting and photography (by the way he has this great site for that: http://www.kylecolby.com/ that you all should check out) so I am certain that he was able to find work which good for him. But he would come back though; slowly but surely. In 2012 he helmed the dub for Gintama the Movie, the only part of that series ever dubbed, and then in 2013 he was the main director/writer for the first 2 seasons of Phi Brain, which I have heard some good things about. It wasn’t until 2014 that he basically replaced Steve Foster as the other main director Sentai Filmworks has. Well, that is besides Christopher Ayres, of course. Now for the subject of this review, one of his early efforts for 2014…..

Short Peace (2013 short film anthology)

Studio: Sunrise

Directors and writers: Shuhei Morita, Katsuhiro Otomo, Hiroaki Ando and Hajime Katoki

Now this is an interesting production. Conceived by Katsuhiro Otomo, who you might know from a little something called AKIRA, it’s an anthology of four short films developed by him and 3 other well-known anime directors. Its intention was to showcase the efforts of these anime directors as they reflect upon the past and future of Japan. Of course, it was also a multimedia project that had a video game developed for Japan’s present which has been released on PS3 but I am not much of a gamer here so we only get the 4 short films for the review here. Now I will be taking this piece meal and talk about each short film individually, then the project as a whole.

SP1

First, the opening, which lasts about three minutes. It is directed by Koji Morimoto, who has done a bunch of OVAs and movies you might not have heard of, so we won’t go into much detail on those. For an opening, it’s short, sweet, and to the point. It features 2 young girls playing a game of hide and seek, which then turns into this interesting, if not surreal, visual experience for the viewer. I would consider it an overture, of sorts. Despite the limited material to work with, voice actors Brittney Karbowski and Emily Neves do a good job in voicing the girls. It really shows the fidelity and adherence to the source material that Kyle Jones strive for when it comes to dub direction and writing in my opinion.

SP2

Now we come to the first film in Short Peace: the aptly titled ‘Possessions,’ which lasts for 13 minutes. The film’s director, Shuhei Morita, is also one of the minds behind such works as the Freedom OVA, Kakurenbo and Tokyo Ghoul. He was also nominated for an Academy Award and, in my opinion, probably this is the best out of the bunch for this project. ‘Possessions’ tells the tale of a wandering craftsman who stumbles upon an old house in the midst of a harsh storm, and becomes entangled within a bizarre dream-scape as he uses the tools of his trade to find his way back to reality. It’s a very interesting haunted house tale; self-contained, yet it looks very interesting with the cel-shaded CG animation. Jason Douglas plays the unnamed traveling craftsman, and is what I consider the highlight performance of the dub. Voice actors Monica Rial and Jessica Boone have parts in this film as well, though you might miss them if you don’t pay attention. The film itself focuses primarily on the ancient past of Japan.

SP4

The next 2 shorts are not, necessarily, a film, but mostly a combination of inner shorts in what could be considered Japan during the Medieval times, a.k.a. the era of the Shogunate, using a form of painting style animation. The director, Katsuhiro Otomo, worked on such films as Akira and Steamboy, among others. The second film, titled ‘Combustible’ or ‘Hi no Youjin’, is a 12-minute film that depicts the lives of two children in a somewhat loose form of a ‘boy meets girl’ scenario. The children, a boy named Matsukichi and a girl named Waka, deal with their blossoming relationship in the midst of constant fires in the city. Of course, the only flaw is that this film has no real conclusion; it simply ends with a fade to black, nothing more. The use of Japanese percussion and chanting permeating the score really brings the whole film to life.

SP3

Now for the third film, ‘Gambo,’ which was directed by Hiroaki Ando, a colleague of Otomo. The  screenplay is a collaboration with Katsuhito Ishii and Kensuke Yamamoto, both known to have worked on the film Redline. The 11-minute film tells of a savage demon laying waste to a local village, as a little girl enlists the help of a polar bear to help drive the demon away from her home. Out of all the films in this project, Gambo has got to be the most bizarre, and certainly the most violent, of the short films. The fight between the polar bear and the demon was animated very nicely; despite the CG being a little off-putting at some points in the film, it gets the job done. Both feature a more extensive list of actors, both being good in that respect. If there had to be a work that’s considered key in this dub, it would have to be consistency.

SP5

Now we come to the last film in Short Peace: Buki yo Saraba, or ‘A Farewell to Weapons.’ Which is, in my opinion, one of the second best short films in this project. The director, Hajime Katoki, was known to have been responsible for the mech design for both Gundam and Super Robot Wars, which you might see some similarity in this film. The 18-minute film tells of a futuristic Japan, which has been converted into a form of barren wasteland. The film depicts a group of soldiers, who have been hired as scavengers to go to a ruined city in the wasteland to destroy an automated sentry. The piece was both dramatic and tense, and possibly the only film in this project with any sort of message. The ending, though? Not quite what I expected. It is very memorable, but I won’t spoil it here. You’ll have to see it for yourself. The dub cast features some strong manly performances by Andrew Love, George Manley, Jay Hickman, John Swasey and Houston Hayes. Also Andy McAvin, likely through some clever sound design and engineering, makes an interesting vocal performance here, second best next to Jason Douglas’s.

Overall Short Peace is a nice exhibition of the artistic merits of 4 very talented Japanese animators. It showcases a view into not just the past (real and imagined) but also the potential future of Japan. Despite the short length of the project, it is so full of great art and animation that puts a lot of current anime series to shame. Coupled with a consistent and very effective dub by Kyle Jones and all the actors/actresses involved, make it a set of little masterpieces, at least in my mind.

Well, next time is another series with a dub done by Jones for Sentai Filmworks that came out later in 2014. A Hint-It involves a world where the absence of something in humanity yields interesting results. Til next time dear readers.

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