Dead Leaves Review
10 Sep 2010   Anime /Reviews

Dead Leaves Review

If you’re searching for a movie with deep characters or a thought out story: please, for the love of God, do not watch Dead Leaves and stay away from it as far as you can. Dead Leaves offers nothing of substance as characters or a deep plot. In fact, it’s the total opposite of said substance. It’s crazy, fast, brutal, vulgar, full of action and lacking almost any plot whatsoever (albeit having some twists here and there). If you’d give a (male) teenager some money and let his creative destruction roar, Dead Leaves might be the result.

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The plot of Dead Leaves is about the protagonists of Pandy and Retro in a science fiction future that way away that it’s totally normal for guys having TV sets as heads (Retro) or penises as large as drills that pierce the heavens (minor side character). And yes, you read that correctly. Drill penis. You gotta see it to believe it. It’s crazy and one part of the word ‘vulgar’ I mentioned above. Where was I? Oh yeah, the plot. The movie opens with Panda and Retro waking up totally naked in the middle of a city, having no memories whatsoever. Seconds later they rob a bank and cause an uproar – and minutes after that they’re sent a prison on the moon. Turns out, they’re somehow connected to that prison.

Please don’t mistake my description of the plot. The connection they have is nothing of importance, it’s only some glue added so the movie doesn’t fall apart completely. But that didn’t work very well because towards the end I got more question WTF marks floating around my head than the whole cast of Looney Tunes.

Overall, I’d describe this anime as ‘experimental’. I’m not sure if this really was the reason for making Dead Leaves, but after some minutes I knew that the visuals and the style is everything and anything this movie cares about.

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The overall style fits very well with the excessive action as every scene bursts with intense colors while lacking any kind of shading. I think the animators must have loved and hated it after some time. Nevertheless the result is a high contrast, almost harsh looking anime. Here you can definitely see Takeshi Koike’s influence because he already used the same visual style in the Animatrix anthology short World Record. Basically, the only difference lies in the colors.

In terms of animation Dead Leaves also certainly delivers. The animation is stylish and slick, fast paced and over the top in almost every frame. I got the feeling that director Hiroyuki Imaishi and Takeshi Koike (in the role of the key animator) decided to go as excessive as humanly possible. It’s as if you’re coupling every western silly cartoon you can think of with every eastern action movie and let LSD do the marrying:

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If only I’d be not that lazy to create a gif sequence. The image above shows only one frame of an explosion sequence that basically consists of a hundred of smaller explosions, culminating in something I can only describe as a nuke going off. And that’s only one explosion moment of at least dozens.

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Another thing as excessive as the explosions is the bullet count. Remember Hot Shots 2 and its supposed record of the most kills ever? Dead Leaves definitely holds the record for most shots fired ever. I think I lost count at about twenty million rounds (which also means twenty million bullet cases drawn!). Dead Leaves also puts the Hollywood cliché to shame that the heroes never need to reload their guns. The guys in this movie shoot that fast they couldn’t reload even if their lives would depend…oh wait…

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The prison Panda and Retro are being sent to is one of the most imaginative and vulgar ones I’ve seen in a while. The craziest thing is that the ideas shown here make total sense.

By putting those criminals into those ‘bags’ like some laundry (see image above) you save yourself a lot of trouble and time. Not letting them move on their own? Yep, good idea. Force feeding them? Saves time. Force sh***ing them? As long as nothing happens: saves time.

Of course, all those things only work well in a scifi universe, so rest assured. I won’t start a movie career to become a politician so I can build one prison like that (and I mean exactly like that: all down to the colors and cloned security guards). By the way: the character designs of the whole cast is superb to say the least. Crazy but creative.

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The problem of Dead Leaves? As ironic as it sounds but it’s the action Dead Leaves set out to top in every regard possible. After the 100th action moment I got tired of it because it offered nothing new. They change locations and weapons but that’s about it. Compared to Shoot Em Up which has some of the most awesomely ridiculous action moments, Dead Leaves feels hollow and not that imaginative despite its look.

That’s also the overall feeling I have for Dead Leaves. Certainly, it delivers in terms of visual style. But there’s nothing more. I certainly missed some creative spark or idea that is more than just doing everything on hyperspeed. The parts are there (interesting characters, awesome style, crazy pacing) but it just doesn’t add up to something awesome you could watch again and again. It’s a real shame.

Conclusion

Watch Dead Leaves and then forget it. Why? Because you have to see the animation and the style at least once in your lifetime. And I am sure that many of you will have an incredible amount of brainless fun. Normally I’d be the first one to applaud, but, well, you can’t have it every time.

Now it’s your turn. Did you see it and what do you think about Dead Leaves?

Rating
The style is fantastic (bonus points: rating +2), the story a mess.

Comments

  • Phantompharter

    Haha… quite different to you last post!
    Lets just hope redline is not as bad :)

    • Gunther Heinrich

      Thank god, it’s not. :)

  • PokeNirvash

    I thought Dead Leaves was AWESOME. And I will never, ever forget it.

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