Cool…, Dead Leaves just looks cool, and that’s exactly what this 50 minute OVA delivers. It’s a glimpse into the uber-creative minds at Production I.G – vivid character designs, hyper kinetic action scenes and just pure comic book violence. The fact there is barely a story to hold this whole thing together is merely a passing observation – you shouldn’t be watching Dead Leaves for a deep, compelling plot. The writers know their little story is all style over substance, and in accepting this fact, they have succeeded in giving creating something very fresh and original – Dead Leaves is completely unique, a working example of style over substance.
Before you buy this, you must ask yourself if you are ready to witness some completely unforgiving violence, presented with the type of animation that could have been conceived during a vivid trip down to hell. This is not the typical look of Japanese anime, and seems to have taken as much influence from ‘colourful’ Western comics as it has from the traditional Japanese style. I can safely say that Production I.G have yet again animated something very different and instantly memorable.
The fact Dead Leaves has no moral or visual boundaries helps in opening itself up to a whole range of weird and different possibilities. Ever seen someone with a giant drill for a dick? Or a sweaty set of butt-cheeks for a forehead?
Dead Leaves revels in its comic book nature, taking the extremes of the art-form and presenting them in such an enthusiastic fashion that you can’t help but be swept along with it. For 50 minutes we are taken on a twisted, exhilarating ride through the arse-end of the universe, surrounded by putrid bad guys and sadistic prison wardens. We watch as our ‘heroes’ Retro and Pandy go on a massive crime spree; destroying buildings and brutally beating innocent bystanders. Is it wrong to enjoy this?
50 minutes is about the ideal running time for a show with only a hint of story. Indeed, I don’t think this review would have been quite so positive had this been stretched out for another 20 minutes or so.
Dead Leaves works as a great show-case for Production I.G; a very fun and attractive example of their unique style, but it won’t be too long before you become frustrated with such dynamic but ultimately lifeless characters. Thankfully, the running time limits such feelings, allowing you to enjoy Dead Leaves for exactly what it is, an original and imaginative burst of adrenaline.
There are only so many ways to say Dead Leaves is all about style and creativity. Sure, we have seen many anime features in the past that claim to be just this, but Production I.G have captured something quite exciting here, a very fast moving action anime stylized to the point where it just looks and feels completely unique.