Review: Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day


The shortest longest day

As far as bundles go, this is a bit of a strange one. Part-movie collection, part-video game, Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day is something that could only be pulled off on a home console. I suppose it's not surprising to see that Bandai Namco is the company publishing it, as it wasn't too long ago that they were offering a similar package with Tekken Hybrid, which included Tekken Tag Tournament HD and the Tekken: Blood Vengeance movie. 

Interestingly, the four films that the 'Short Peace' refers to were actually released in Japan in the middle of last year. These short films were animated by Sunrise, combined and released in theaters as a single showing. Crispy's Inc and Grasshopper Manufacture collaborated to create a game based on the Short Peace films, titled Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day, which was later released in Japan in a bundle with the four films. It only took three months to hit our shelves after the Japanese release, which is pretty impressive. 

But is this media mash-up worth a place in your game collection? 

Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day (PS3)
Developer: Crispy's Inc
Namco Bandai Games
Release date: January 16, 2014 (JP), April 18, 2014 (NA, EU)
MSRP: $59.99/€59.99/£39.99

To kick things off, let's take a look at the films. These aren't accessible from within the game, but rather from the video section in the PlayStation 3's XMB interface. It seems Bandai Namco is a little worried that you won't find them, as it's made several posts via Twitter mentioning where the content is, as there aren't any notifications in the game itself pointing to where it's hidden. I couldn't honestly tell you if this is going to be a problem for most people, as using a PS3 as my Blu-ray player of choice means I'm often going to the video tab for my video content. It's certainly something to keep in mind, though. 

First up is Possessions, which tells the story of a traveler who takes refuge from a storm by hiding inside a run-down shrine. It runs for around 14 minutes, and is animated using cel-shaded 3D models. The model quality and textures are absolutely stunning, evidently a far cry from the increasingly common practice of using 3D models to reduce animation time in typical TV anime. A charming story completes the offering, and there's no mystery to how it secured a nomination for an Academy Award. Not a bad start to the video content by any stretch of the imagination. 

Combustible is the second short movie in the line-up, and certainly has the most recognition of the four. Not only did it win the Grand Prize at the Japan Media Arts Festival, but also the Ōfuji Noburō Award at the Mainichi Film Awards. Strangely, I consider this to be the weakest of the four videos, but that's not to say it's bad, either. Combustible is pretty good in its own right, but I feel that the other shorts are just more enjoyable. It's set in the city of Edo in the 18th century, following the lives of Owaka, the daughter of a merchant family who is taking part in an arranged marriage, and Matsukichi, her childhood friend who dreams of becoming a firefighter. 

Next is Gambo, which I think I can best sum up with the few notes I made while watching it. Short Peace has a PEGI 16 rating here in the UK, and while I'm not sure if the barriers between age ratings are getting more lax as time goes on, I'd definitely have guessed that this was an 18 had I not known otherwise. There's grotesque imagery, gore, nudity and even more gore, so it's not something you want to be showing to the kids. This story is about a brutal monster that attacks people, and a white (polar?) bear that befriends a young girl. It's another very good short, only coming in second to the final video in the collection. 

A Farewell to Weapons is my personal favorite of the four animations, primarily because it's the one film I'd love to see converted into a full series. On the surface, it's about a small group of men that have been tasked with disarming automated weapons in an apocalyptic Japan. They do this wearing power suits that look a lot like modified space suits, in combination with basic military training. Watching four of them in power suits working together to take out a Gonk -- a tank-like weapon hellbent on killing anything it considers a threat -- was as dramatic and exciting as the best episodes of Attack on Titan. I want to see a goofy squad touring Japan and removing threats like this in a full series, complete with all those shock deaths and revenge episodes. You need to check this out. 

Overall, it's a very impressive collection of short films, running for just over an hour in total. Given the varying genres and themes, I'd say it's a perfect place to introduce newcomers to anime. However, even if you're buying Short Peace for the animations, remember that there's still the video game portion to check out. If you're already a fan of Suda51 and his previous works, you're in for a treat.

Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day is a short game based on the Short Peace movies -- or at least, that's what it claims to be. There's really nothing that ties the two together, but fortunately that doesn't matter all that much. The game sees the titular Ranko running across increasingly difficult stages, as you attempt to evade some creepy-looking spirits. Gameplay is pretty simple, as you only need to focus on running to the right and attacking enemies when you get close to them. Regular enemies die in one hit and explode into small pieces, usually composed of weird iconography and kana, which will destroy other enemies if they make contact with them. You also have a bullet meter at the bottom of the screen, which is used as a panic button if the spirits are about to catch up with you.

Each stage lasts only a few minutes, so between stages you're often thrown into a cutscene. As much as the game is reasonably good fun on its own, it's hands down the cutscenes that make this a game worth experiencing. To describe them as being animated insanity would be a severe understatement, as the events in the story and the animation techniques used to depict them are frankly beyond my powers of description. There are also a few boss fights to help change up the pace, and these deviate completely from the 'run towards the right' mechanic the rest of the game uses. 

You can tell that Grasshopper Manufacture and Goichi Suda are involved not only via the cutscenes, but the gameplay itself. Everything is very quirky, whether it's running from a giant pomeranian or having to wrestle a luchador with the aim of unmasking him. We also have things that aren't quite so outlandish, such as a violin that doubles up as a sniper rifle, and the fact that the game announces during a short visual novel segment that you should "hold onto your controller, the game will start soon. Oh, and there's also big-breasted ladies and a panty shot just minutes into the game.

I only have one negative point to make about Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day, and it regards the game's length. If you're going for a single run through, you can expect to be finished in under an hour; quicker than it would take to watch all four of the Short Peace animations back-to-back. The fact that it's so short isn't something that should stop you from playing this game, as quite frankly I think it's the perfect length to prevent it from overstaying its welcome, but for a full-price retail game, it's hard to recommend. There is replay value in that there are collectibles to find and course completion times to whittle down as low as possible, but you'll know right now whether this is something that you care about.

Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day is a fantastic package, featuring four top quality short films with a weird and quirky game from Suda51 and Grasshopper Manufacture. The films are of fantastic quality, each being worth your time, and the game provides an experience like no other, courtesy of Suda's oddball imagination. However, be aware that the Short in Short Peace is a very good description of the package as a whole, as you can easily finish watching the video content and complete a run through the game in under two hours total. Still, it's definitely a worthy addition to any collection, but you'll want to weigh up all of those possible re-watches and re-plays to work out whether it's really worth $60 to you.

8 – Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)

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Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day reviewed by Chris Walden



Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.
How we score:  The Japanator reviews guide


Chris Walden
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