When I watch a DVD, I always watch the extras first as a prelude to the main event. Dead Leaves's extras just might be the actual feature presentation. Among various Q&A sessions with the voice actors, director and writer, there is a drinking game version of Truth or Dare, played between the show's host, the director, the writer, and the voice actor of Retro. Yes kiddies, they get really, really drunk on camera. Yet more proof that a bunch of somewhat drunk guys will invariably fall into the topics of sex, masturbation, and grossing out each other, regardless of culture. I have not laughed so hard in a long, long time.
Dead Leaves is definitely not your usual anime. When the director and writer repeatedly recommend the audience to watch it drunk... Yup, this is not your usual show.
Style-wise, Dead Leaves reminded me a lot of the late night shows that used to be on MTV in the early 90's: The Maxx, Bevis and Butthead, Ren and Stimpy, and the rest. It's a hyperkinetic show of color, motion and visual sound effects, perfect for the really tired or intoxicated. It also follows in the same vein with gross and disgusting things happening to characters. Let's just say that one of the secondary characters is named Dick Drill, and his distinguishing feature is his strategically-placed huge drill. Toilet humor abounds, with dick and fart jokes occurring every minute, and ordinary people are satirized as mannequins, living stiffs so to speak. If crude humor isn't your style, keep well away from Dead Leaves.
The plot is somewhat vague and crazy: Pandy (somewhat curvy babe with a pink and blue eyes) and Retro (a guy with a monitor for a head) wake up naked and not remembering a thing. They immediately start out on a crime spree and wind up in a prison on the moon. After having some wild sex, they escape and lead the prisoners on a revolt involving a tank, dick-drilling, robots, and a lot of guns. Then a lot of non-essential plot gets tossed in and a baby is born. Pandy and Retro escape, the moon and warden blowing up (via the baby) as their spaceship flies away. Their escape pods crash into a man on Earth and kills him instantly. The End.
Dead Leaves is akin to FLCL in that the plot really doesn't matter that much. It's all about the visual journey.
I really enjoyed this mini-movie (OAV just sounds too classy for Dead Leaves; direct-to-video sounds more like it, but technically, that's not true), which was surprising as I didn't think that I would like Dead Leaves. FLCL is not one of my favorites (I like the artwork though), and Evangelion left me more confused than anything else. Yet this was fun; the dialogue was sharp and quirky, partly ad-libbed by the voice actors. Outside of hentai, where else could you find the lines: "It tastes like panties," and "I like your panties"? I liked the frantic motion of the characters and the scenery, kicking everything up a notch and leaving no dull moments and no time at all to think. It delivers exactly what it promises: fun and brainless physical comedic action. The only reason that Dead Leaves isn't getting a higher rating is because I think it really has a limited target audience of older high school and college students having a party. Like Heavy Metal and Aeon Flux, I think Dead Leaves will become an animated fixture of video store shelves and a cult classic.
Should you see it? I don't know. If you remember and enjoyed MTV's late night animation lineup, you'll love this. If you prefer more traditional anime, then this is not your show. However, I recommend that you rent this anyway and try something different. Just like fried pickles at your local bar, Dead Leaves sounds and tastes more than a little odd, but goes down well.