“Neo Tokyo”, a.k.a. “Manie-Manie: Meikyu Monogatari” (Labyrinth Tales), a movie that premièred in 1987, is a collection of three animated shorts directed by anime masters: Rintaro (“Dagger of Kamui”, “Harmagedon”, the original “Captain Harlock” TV series, the “Galaxy Express 999” movie, “Metropolis”, etc.), Yoshiaki Kawajiri (“Demon City”, “Wicked City”, “Ninja Scroll”, “Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust”, etc.), and Katsuhiro Otomo (“Akira”, “Memories- Cannon Fodder”, “Robot Carnival- The Robot Carnival”, “Roujin Z”, “Steamboy”, etc. ).
The framing piece for the collection is Rintaro’s “Labyrinth - Labyrinthos”. While playing with her cat, Cicero, a young girl, Sachi, follows a tin music box Pierrot literally “through the looking glass” into an amazing French Impressionistic cum Art Nouveau style nightmare of ghost children, trolley-car riding skeletons, and Bon Odori dancing clock-salary-men, leading up to a big-top circus tent.
Center stage is the next short: Kawajiri’s “Running Man”. A cyberpunk, noir tale of “The-Man-Who-Would-Not-Die”, a rundown futuristic racecar driver, Zack Hugh, whose sins of ten years of evil, violent, vicious, deadly racing have finally caught up with him -- on the track.
This leads to the final act: Otomo’s “The Order to Stop Construction”. In the middle of an uninhabitable jungle swamp in Aloana, a fictitious Third World country, a greedy Japanese development company has been contracted to build a pointless, inaccessible city for Aloana’s corrupt, unaccountable, leaders. However, with the overthrow of that country’s government, the contract is canceled. Low level, grunt Supervisor, Sugioka Tsutomu, is sent by his superiors to stop the expensive, on-sight automated machines from running themselves into the ground while continuing to try to meet a meaningless schedule that they no longer need to achieve.
Insightful, stylish, misanthropic, darkly humorous, and visually stunning… individually, “Neo Tokyo’s” shorts are great -- together, they’re one of the best anime ever made.