Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigume’s Longest Day (there’s nothing short about that title) is a novel experiment in trans-media entertainment. Blu-Ray owners can pop this disc into their players to enjoy a quartet of critically acclaimed anime shorts directed by the likes of Shuhei Morita and Katsuhiro Otomo. PS3 gamers on the other hand can insert the same disc into their console to play a fast paced platformer crafted by the wacko (or should that be eccentric developer) known as Suda 51. As a fan of both video games and anime Short Peace sounds like a marriage made in heaven, but is the final product more than the sum of its parts?
The anime portion of the disc kicks off with Possessions – a tale of a travelling craftsman who, seeking shelter from the elements, decides to rest at an abandoned shrine. Unbeknownst to him the temple is haunted by the spirits of broken brollies and shredded tapestries that have gained sentience. Rather than flee in terror, the protagonist quells the restless apparitions by using his prowess with a thread to restore the discarded items to their former glory. Its positive message and colourful visuals earned the feature a well-deserved Oscar nomination.
Out of the four animes Combustible was my least favourite. Although well produced I didn’t warm to it, which is weird given the movie’s title. Set in feudal Japan, the short tells the tale of Matsukichi and Waka – two neighbouring youngsters who live under the thumb of their oppressive parents. After a brief time skip we see the duo all grown up. The rebellious Matsukichi acrimoniously leaves home to become a fire fighter whilst the more docile Waka resigns herself to living at home with her abusive elders. During the movie’s conclusion Waka’s abode gets engulfed in flames setting up a touching finale. Will Matsukichi be able to rescue his childhood sweetheart from a fiery death and unhappy existence or will Waka perish for lacking the courage to confront her domestic woes?
Anime connoisseurs who like cartoons with action will no doubt prefer Short Peace’s concluding two features. The first of these is the visceral Gambo (not to be confused with the Stallone character), which tells the tale of a polar bear who befriends a little girl. Although Gambo doesn’t battle against Soviet forces he does spar with a demon instead, which in my opinion is even cooler. The final anime on the disc is A Farewell to Weapons, which follows the exploits of a marine squad who are tasked with disarming a warhead that is located within the confines of a ruined city. Impeding their mission is an automated tank that is patrolling the area. The explosive confrontation between the soldiers and armoured machine ends Short Peace with a bang (literally.)
To finish off I will touch upon Ranko Tsukigume’s Longest Day – a video game that reminds me of Sonic the Hedgehog due to its speedy platforming. The game stars a teenage girl named Ranko who is nicknamed Meter Maid, as her family have amassed their fortune by managing parking lots. Ranko, who is a schoolgirl by day and assassin by night, is on a quest to murder her father who happens to be a masked Mexican wrestler (I warned you that Suda 51 is a whack job.) The majority of the game’s levels will have Ranko dashing to the exit, constantly pursued by anything from malicious spirits to a humongous Pomeranian.
The regular levels are a simple case of navigating through a stage as quickly as possible. Killing enemies along the way charges up Ranko’s ammo meter that can be discharged to momentarily halt the advance of her pursuer (I guess telling the giant doggie to “stay” doesn’t work.) Adding some variation to the mix are the boss fights, which range from blasting a dragon whilst riding atop a flying car to the eventual clash with Ranko’s pop in an arena mimicking the graphical style of an NES game. As with many of Suda 51’s offerings there isn’t much depth to the gameplay, but you are unlikely to notice once you get wrapped up in the title’s slick presentation.
My rating for Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigume’s Longest Day (pauses to catch breath) is a three out of five. Both the video game and animes are entertaining, but the overall package feels like a bit of a swindle. The anime movies last for around twenty minutes each whilst the Suda 51 game can be bested within a fifty-minute session. Demanding over thirty quid for this PS3 title is a bit steep, when its contents could easily have been distributed as a £10 DVD and an inexpensive PSN download. If you are a video gamer who appreciates anime it’s worth checking out, but you may want to pick up a used copy or wait for a price drop. Short Peace sadly lives up to its name. It is both short in duration and will leave you feeling short changed.