With the toys and the video games blazing the retail seen, it was only a matter of time before a movie was released. Wetting your appetite for a feature length adventure, Warner is releasing an anthology of eight animated shorts on Feb 16th. Each part is directed by a veteran Japanese anime director, adding to Warners’ growing series of anthologies like the Animatrix and Gotham Knights.
The first two “chapters” are very similar to the first two in the Animatrix package. They function to bring you up to speed on the history of the Halo universe. It’s interesting, but runs a little too long at twenty minutes and doesn’t seem to have much replay value. Keep in mind that there are no main protagonists and the story is almost exclusively historical and so it is most assuredly an impressive undertaking.
The Duel has the visual style of a moving brush painting which makes it stand out but a watercolor canvas in motion won’t necessarily hold your attention. The story is the first “chapter” that really feels as though you need to be a fan to really understand or care about what’s going on.
The third episode, Homecoming echoes many of the themes and ideas in the short lived Jessica Alba show “Dark Angel“. The genetically enhanced and specially trained children that run away from their home is spot on. This is very traditional looking anime but has some questionable dialogue and deliveries.
Odd One Out is a comedic look at an epic battle in a very traditional Japanese morning cartoon style. It’s mostly played for laughs and includes a couple of kids reminiscent of Transformers Armada. Daisuke Nishio previously directed Dragon Ball Z so the juvenile romp that seems out of place has some explanation.
The last three chapters are the best of the series. In Prototype; a sweeping and slick account of what is to be human mired in epic battles, a soldier remembers a promise he made to a dying comrade. Another action heavy piece; the Babysitter focuses on the ODST Hell jumpers and the last episode is the Package. Much like “the Final Flight of the Osiris“, this story is fully rendered in CG animation.
Overall, this collection has brilliant visuals and fun stories, created by some of Japan’s top animators. The only possible issue could be a feeling of exclusion. Some people might feel that they’re missing out on something if they’re not already fans of the games. Still, the studio went out of their way to include special features that include an overview for the Halo universe that should catch newbies up. Other features include a making of and a commentary for all episodes.