Zipangufest's Beyond Anime segment consisted of three short films: all animated, none 'beyond' anything - except belief, in a couple of cases.
Encounters is a shoddy little adventure that looks like it's been shot and edited in a child's bedroom, by a child, in the space of a couple of hours. Featuring Action Men figures in the key roles, it's clearly supposed to be a self-consciously ramshackle, hilariously ironic re-run of any lame anime you care to mention. But since the sole joke is the fact that everything is done with jerky toys, it gets old after about a minute. Unfortunately, it goes on for a further 29.
Next up, The Great Rabbit. Despite its 7 minute running time, this short managed the impressive feat of outstaying its welcome. Simultaneously dismal and baffling.
Thank goodness then for the Svankmajer-esque Midori-ko, the longest of the 3 films, which uses some excellent hand-drawn animation (relatively static, but stylish) to tell the story of a young girl who discovers an extraterrestrial seed pod. The pod hatches what appears to be an alien vegetable but she detects a face on it and it later grows appendages. Analyzed through her handy USB cat scanner, it does appear to be vegetable in composition and everyone who encounters the strange plant-being wants to eat it. This appalls Midori - until she accidentally licks it herself and discovers how delicious it is...
Whether the film is pro- or anti-Vegetarian is quite hard to tell, but it doesn't really matter - some surprisingly grotesque, visceral imagery compliments a weird and wonderful story. Kind of like finding Miyazaki's demented cousin locked in a cupboard under the stairs.
Dir. Keita Kurosaka, 2010