Review for Short Peace
Short Peace gathers four films together, plus an entertaining intro into one 70 minute feature. Katsuhiro Otomo directed one, Combustible, as well as providing the story to another, A Farewell to Weapons.
A traveller seeking refuge from a storm in a forest finds an abandoned shrine, but stepping inside he has to confront what has been left behind.
A wall scroll comes to life with the story of a girl named Owaka who grows up to be forced into a marriage she doesn’t want, and of her childhood friend Matsukichi, whose fascination with fire leads him to defy his father.
A couple of samurai hunting an albino bear enter a village looking for help, but the village is in deeper need, being terrorised by a demon that’s taking their youngest daughters. For them, the bear might just mean salvation.
4. A Farewell to Weapons.
A group of men seek salvage in a post-apocalyptic desert world, but their hi-tech equipment may not be enough, when they inadvertently activate a robot tank.
You have four animations here, five including the intro, all with distinctly different styles and looks, and the 1.78:1 transfer does it all justice, presenting them as clear and well defined as you’d expect from HD, with strong colours and smooth animation. With just 70 minutes of content, even on a single layer disc, there’s no issue here with compression. You have the choice between DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English and Japanese, with translated subtitles and a signs only track. You can have any combination of audio and subtitle stream, but it’s locked during playback. The audio too is fine, with the dialogue clear, the surround put to effective use in each of the animations, and there’s some nice music as well.
This Australian Hanabee release comes on a single disc, in a BD Amaray case, in which you’ll also find four art cards, and appealing inner sleeve art. It’s held inside a double folded card slipcase which alone suffers the indignity of the Australian ratings logo.
The disc boots to a static menu, and offers trailers for Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, Patema Inverted, Lupin the Third – The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, and Majestic Prince.
It’s worth it for A Farewell to Weapons alone. That’s one seriously cyberpunk animation, which manages to effectively develop its characters, create and paint a fascinating future world, and deliver some brilliantly animated action sequences of pure theatrical quality. It also has a great through-line of taking its protagonist from tooled-up, high tech cyber warrior back to the Stone Age in its brief run time. The animation is delicious, hyper detailed and with great design. You wind up wanting to see a whole movie, or even a series with these characters.
With that in mind, the quality of the other animations may not even matter, but as a bonus, all three are pretty good, although Combustible might be the weakest of the lot. Its aesthetic of an animation unfolding on a paper scroll adds a bit of distance between the viewer and the story, while its bittersweet tale of childhood friends suffering unfairness and injustice at the hands of their respective families has a sense of inevitable tragedy that puts a downer on things.
Gambo is an interesting tale, a collision of sci-fi, fantasy and mysticism all told through a historical viewpoint that gives it a sense of legend. Possessions has a similar viewpoint, although its tale of objects becoming imbued with souls, forcing the protagonist to take some sense of responsibility on behalf of humanity, has a more whimsical and comedic air. It’s also the story with the strongest message aside from A Farewell to Weapons, commenting on the wasteful nature of today’s disposable cultures.
As mentioned, if you want Short Peace in HD, then the hybrid PS3 videogame is the cheapest and most convenient option, but there never was an official UK home video release. If you need the dub, which is solid, or the DVD, then import is your only option.