Mindgame usually called Mind Game by reviewers but just the one word on the credits is based on the manga by Robin Nishi that he began publishing in 1995. The manga would appear to be an autobiographical comic-book in the vein of artists like Harvey Pekar, Art Speigelman and Robert Crumb. Not having seen the original manga, which does not appear to have been published in English, I am not in a position to compare. The film version at least would seem to be a surreally fantasticised autobiography of the author the lead character is also named Robin Nishi, for instance. Much of what plot there is centres around Nishis love of his big-breasted childhood friend Myon, her career as a swimmer, her sister Yang who would seem to be an avant-garde artist and much self-loathing on Nishis part over his being too cowardly, unassertive and obsessed with porn. Of course, the films tells all of this in a decidedly eccentric way such as having the characters engaged in exploits with Yakuza thugs, going down into a Utopian mini-society in the belly of a whale, even telling several alternate versions of the characters histories, including Myon at one point seeming to be competing in an intergalactic swimming event that is held in anti-gravity.
What perhaps is even more eccentric about Mindgame is the panoply of animated visual styles that Masaki Yuasa adopts throughout. These range all the way from a spidery line-drawn style similar to Peter Chungs Aeon Flux (1991-2, 1995) to pastiches of Astro Boy (1963-6) to a grungy low-tech rotoscoping technique that uses the actual voice-actors faces pasted over the animated characters, stylised lovemaking sequences in impressionistic paint animation and more standard forms of anime.
I must confess I found it difficult to follow what Mindgame was doing or frequently even about. The plot rambles off onto all manner of tangents. In particular, the middle section with the characters trapped in the belly of the whale slows down in a big way and hops off into bizarre vignettes with the characters dancing and doing swimming formations with a marine creature; Yang prancing around in a catsuit with a gigantic plastic inflatable strap-on penis that is filled with fish; or else hurling herself at a paper wheel while covered in different coloured paints. The climactic escape from the whale contains a madcap sequence with the characters running at frenetic speed toward the whales mouth and then for some reason leaping out and taking gigantic bounds across ships, jet airplanes and skyscrapers that keep falling in their path. It frequently feels like a film where Masaki Yuasa has thrown in every random thought in his head.
You might compare Mindgame to Richard Linklaters similar Waking Life (2001), which was a similarly surreal and plotless animated film. Where Waking Life drifted through a series of vignettes that offered penetrating philosophical insights, Mindgame has a randomness to it it seems busy and weird but at the end of it you scratch your head and wonder what it was actually about. If anything Mindgame resembles more some of the incomprehensibly surreal films of the French New Wave in the 1960s that seemed to throw in everything including the kitchen sink without rhyme or reason and calling it art.
Trailer here (no subs):-