|VIZ | SHONEN JUMP | ANIMERICA-MAG | STORE|
The Fine Print
All text is © copyright VIZ, LLC. No reproduction without written permission. All images are © copyright their respective copyright holders as noted. No reproduction without written permission. All images for The Animatrix © 2003 Warner Home Video
Directed by Takeshi Koike Written by Yoshiaki Kawajiri
With its wildly stylized look and distorted character animation, "World Record" owes (like a lot of Animatrix shorts actually) very little to what people have come to regard as the perceived "anime style." It might even be possible to mistake "Record" for Peter Chung's contribution since it seems to owe more to Aeon Flux than Astro Boy. Yet beneath the surface, "Record" actually belongs to a long tradition of Japanese odes to running, speed, and the liberating drug-like effects of an adrenaline rush. The story, about a competitive sprinter who goes so fast he momentarily breaks through the illusion of the Matrix, has an ancestor in Katsuhiro Otomo's manga Run. In the 1979 story, a young criminal fleeing on foot from a pursuing detective goes so fast he slips into a surreal fantasy sequence. It was adapted into a short film called Shuffle by director Sogo Ishii (Electric Dragon 80,000 V) in 1981 who described the work as "a portrait of my generation, and particularly of its violent temper." While "World Record" doesn't offer the sort of violence that Otomo and Ishii did, Kawajiri's script maintains the stance that only speed can set you free from mental and physical bondage (that Dan the sprinter is African-American possibly serves to symbolically underline this point). Koike's direction is 100% dedicated to evoking the physicality reality of running. While watching "World Record," it is all but impossible not to feel some of the effects of one's own leg muscles being pushed to the breaking point of endurance. But perhaps too much has been made of the physical here, since the scenes involving Dan talking to reporters and his family don't work dramatically. While the exaggerated animation style is crucial to the success of the running scenes, they seem almost comedic elsewhere. Something of an uneven work, "World Record" nevertheless manages to deliver the defining message of a generation of "speed tribes" (see also the ending of Battle Royale) to a whole new Western audience.