Zach Hugh (Banjo Ginga) is the titular "Running Man," the undefeated champion of the "Death Circus" racing circuit and has raced for 10 years. Competitors race in high-speed Formula One-like craft, and spectators bet on the lives of these people for huge winnings. A Marlowe-esque reporter (Masane Ksukayama/Michael McConnohie) is sent to interview the mysterious Zach outside of the track and watches one of his races. He soon discovers Hugh has telekinetic abilities which he uses to destroy the other racers, after quietly observing him in the dark chronically over-using an interface console inside Hugh's penthouse.
As the race ends in his favor, Hugh begins to see the spirits of racers who perished on the track and he continues the race until his vehicle goes up in flames. The Death Circus ends shortly afterwards, the reporter believes it was because spectators wanted to see how long Hugh could outlast death.
[This is one of the three segments of the film Neo Tokyo, released in 1987]
The film premièred on September 25, 1987, at that year's Tōkyō International Fantastic Film Festival. Other than festival screenings, distributor the Toho Company originally relegated the film direct-to-video, releasing a VHS on October 10, 1987, but did eventually give it a general cinema release in Japan, on April 15, 1989. In English, the film was licensed, dubbed and released theatrically (as a double feature with the first Silent Mobius film) and to VHS in North America by Streamline Pictures, the license later being taken up by the now also out of business ADV Films.
"Running Man" is adapted and directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, with character design and animation direction by Kawajiri, mechanical design by Takashi Watabe and Satoshi Kumagai, key animation by Shinji Otsuka, Nobumasa Shinkawa, Toshio Kawaguchi and Kengo Inagaki and art direction by Katsushi Aoki. The segment also appeared on Episode 205 of Liquid Television [aired October 20, 1992, the fifth episode of season 2 of Liquid Television] with a different voice actor, Rafael Ferrer, than Michael McConnohie’s Streamline dub.
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Note by the Blog Author
The blog author considers the Liquid Television presentation of Running Man as narrated superbly by Rafael Ferrer to be the finest animated cartoon ever produced, anywhere, by anyone.It appears that the Liquid Television version has never been available or released at any time. It was not part of the Liquid Television consumer released compiled summaries from MTV.
The blog author considers The Sinking of the Lusitania, a silent cartoon released in 1918, as the next-best animated cartoon ever produced. It is available from YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYKdXABWaFg . The history of this animated film is described in detail at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sinking_of_the_Lusitania .
The blog author considers the greatest opus of animation to be the Warner Brothers "Merrie Melodies" and "Looney Tunes" cartoons from the 1930s until the cartoon shop closed in 1962. Nearly all voices were performed by Mel Blanc, allowing the viewer to understand, pre-conciously, that the story involved universal truths about human nature, since all voices were ultimately, factually, one. These cartoons form the definitive art presented anywhere, at any time, involving the humor that can be evoked by the omnipresence of human cruelty. As such, they were never properly short features for the amusement of children.
See also: the earlier Daily Quiddity blog entry for Mel Blanc. See also: the Daily Quiddity blog entry for Jack Benny, with whom Mel Blanc worked regularly.