Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Dementia, Psychological, Romance, Trippy
First Released: August 2004, 104-minute film
Summary: Nishi has loved Myon since they were young. As an adult, he dreams of becoming a manga artist and marrying his childhood sweetheart. The catch is that she’s engaged and thinks Nishi is a wimp. The world changes when Nishi meets the fiancé at Myon’s diner. As he accepts defeat they encounter the Yakuza (Japanese mafia), which ends poorly for Nishi but gives him a new outlook and a second chance at life.
Mind Game is directed by Masaaki Yuasa, director of such mind-bending shows as Devilman Crybaby and Ping Pong the Animation. He has directed a lot of trippy segments on other shows, such as the “Food Chain” episode of Adventure Time and the “Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Baby” episode of Space Dandy. He is also the director of recent films “Lu Over the Garden Wall” and “Night is Short, Walk on Girl”. I remember my first time watching the “Food Chain” episode of Adventure Time and thinking it was a total trip because of how different it was than any other episode I had seen. It was a visual treat. Mind Game is so visually different than any anime I’ve seen. The animation often changes from scene to scene, which never lets you get comfortable with what you’re watching. Some scenes have a resemblance of realism while others are entirely abstract and surreal. I love the way the film keeps you on your toes and maintains your interest.
On the surface this film does not make a lot of sense after the initial scene in the diner. However, a lot is revealed when you focus on the story and watch it more than once. It uses the medium to showcase the potential of how complex and diverse anime can be.
You might enjoy this if: You want a departure from the usual story. Mind Game will take you on a ride through something you’ve never experienced in anime.
You might not like it if: You want a linear story with a standard style. The animation in Mind Game will turn some people away for sure.
Note to the Viewer: Describing Mind Game Yuasa stated, “Instead of telling it serious and straight, I went for a look that was a bit wild and patchy. I think that Japanese animation fans today don’t necessarily demand something that’s so polished. You can throw different styles at them and they can still usually enjoy it”.
Mind Game Trailer