Mars Express (Do Androids Dream of Animated Sheep?)

Thought this might deserve a thread of it’s own, since I’m gonna recommend the hell out of seeing it. It’s a pretty fantastic cyberpunk animated movie that’s getting sloooooowly released.

Caught the original French language version (with subs, though – and this is weird – my “academic” French actually could keep up a surprising amount) and was pretty blown away. The dubbed English version is currently getting a (very limited) theatrical release here in the States, but from what I can tell from this trailer they did a nice job with the Anglais here as well:

My initial thought on seeing the movie poster was “Oh, it’s anime.”

Then: “Uh, but it’s not.” There’s a really chic and cool retro futuristic vibe in the poster.

There’s definitely anime inspiration here and there, but also more straight-up 2d animation that feels both familiar and also kind of very original, at least for this animation n00b.

At any rate, the cool animation was the hook and got me halfway into this film’s corner before it had even started up. But then the rest kicked in.

French filmmaker Jérémie Périn is open about the Blade Runner influence here. But also the Raymond Chandler influence and the classic sci-fi flavor happening (I could see elements of the non-cheesecakey art direction and set design of Barbarella going on) in the film. The movie is great about showing and not telling – it assumes from the outset that we’re familiar with cyberpunk and film noir. And having finally seen the original Ghost in the Shell…yeah, that influence is all over this.

(If Jérémie Périn’s name sounds familiar, his animation style can be seen in a much-discussed, much-censored video for DyE’s “Fantasy”. He also did an hilarious EXTREMELY nsfw pixel-art video for Flairs song “Truckers’ Delight”. And that infamous naked-people in the forest video for The Flaming Lips for “Watching the Planets” back in the day.)

When/if this comes to your town, it is absolutely worth seeking out!

Oh! Another reason why Jeremie Piren’s name may sound familiar: he’s the director/creator of the animated series Lastman, which I think @RothdaTheTruculent mentioned really liking years ago in the anime thread. I loved Mars Express so much I just grabbed that full season to binge.

Neat! I’ll try to check this out and report back.

Doesn’t look like this has a UK distributor yet

I didn’t love the plot, some pacing choices, and some character details in the protagonists that felt a little stilted (Aline’s alcoholism, Carlos’ family trouble). But overall, I really enjoyed the experience. The main character Aline in particular was just extremely cool and I was enamored with her in minutes. Move over, Major Kusanagi. Aline’s French voice suits her character much better than the English version I heard in the trailers.

I found a lot of enjoyment (I watched it twice in two days) in just observing how the characters’ faces moved and emoted. It reminded me a lot of Naoki Urasawa’s manga art, very limited and carefully chosen lines in the expressions of faces.