Marketed as a follow-up to his 1995 anthology Memories, Katsuhiro Ohtomo's Short Peace is a collection of four short anime films by Ohtomo and other directors. In Shuhei Morita's Oscar-nominated "Possessions," a man seeking shelter in an abandoned shrine has to contend with common household objects possessed by spirits; Ohtomo's own "Combustible" is a time-spanning look at the emotional causes and effects of a citywide fire; Hiroaki Ando's "Gambo" evokes the darkness of the earliest fairy tales, as a little girl keeps her faith in a large white bear as it engages in bloody battle with a demon. In the longest and most familiar-feeling segment, Hajime Katoki's Ohtomo-scripted "A Farewell to Arms," a squad of battle-suited soldiers square off against robot tanks in a devastated Tokyo.
What Short Peace notably lacks compared to Memories is humor; there's nothing as flat-out funny as that film's "Stink Bomb" segment, and aside from the inherent whimsy of "Possessions," there isn't any levity until the last few minutes of "A Farewell to Arms." Though the whole never becomes greater than the sum of its parts, "Gambo" does re-create the textures of not just hand-drawn animation but ancient illustrations, and it also features some of the most intense demon-and-bear wrasslin' you'll see this year.