Feature2-Five Numbers! Special: Hope You Like Orange Prison Uniforms

Five Numbers! was directed by Hiroaki Ando, who, as you will notice when watching Five Numbers! for the first time, is successful in working in CG animation. From his own segments in the anthology Digital Juice, to CG credits in well-known films like Metropolis and Steam Boy, it became very apparent that he is a byproduct of a Japan’s short animation scene. Interesting to note, screenwriter Dai Sato, whom I recognize from his interviews of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and 2nd GIG, thought up and wrote Five Numbers!. This makes sense since the story played out like the episodes of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex that he wrote.

In an undisclosed bunker, five prisoners are released by being woken up from stasis, finding themselves trapped in the shutdown facility. Everyone is addressed by a specific prison number and is stated to have their own individual code name. Starting from the top: Pinch-Hitter – the mid-thirties maybe consultant business man type, Sting – the early twenties blonde professional gambler, FlashTradeKiller – the twelve year old hacker genius, PokerFace –  the quite stoic teenager, and finally Enplein – the older gentleman separate from the others by being their voluntarily with his cat, Croupier. As is to be expected, these four are going to have to work a way out of this prison together, and only after discovering why they are there do they discover that Enplein might have all the answers.

Reminiscent of the 2000’s era Appleseed films and the Dominion Tank Police retelling Tank S.W.A.T. 01, Five Numbers! as you might have guessed by Hiroaki Ando’s credits is animated almost entirely in CG. Outside of some two-dimensional sequences, the characters move about in the same herky-jerky fashion that I attribute to this style of CG when it is applied to character models. Utilizing CG for vehicles and other inanimate objects have become commonplace in anime since their start in Golgo 13: The Professional, but the only real plus to rendering people like this can be seen in the eyes and certain nice facial features like Enplein’s distinct furrows and wrinkles.

Pros: Shoots for a plot that does not require spelling points for the viewer. The prison atmosphere when the installation is illuminated in amber during the power shut down at the beginning is well done. The single piece of applied music and the credit theme are both really catchy (I am pulling at straws here, I know).

Cons: The herky-jerky motion that puppets the character’s movement is rather distracting in its execution; it frequently took me out of the moment when I noticed it. This piece is not going to blow you away visually or dramatically.

Five Numbers! sits in a weird spot plot-wise for its length.  Usually the case with shorts like this one is that there is not enough story to move it along, yet Five Numbers! to me could have lasted twice as long as it did. During that stretch of time before the truth about the installation is revealed, I was honestly enjoying the isolation elements. Because of that, Five Numbers! is a nice example of what can be done with short animation in a way I like expressed, but by its lonesome (perhaps without Coicent to visually sweeten the monetary investment) it lacks the kick to make me recommend it without hesitation.


Categories: Anime, Special

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