The Humanoid [ザ・ヒューマノイド 哀の惑星レザリア] (1986)
AKA Metallia, The Humanoid: Rezaria, Planet of Sorrow
Starring Kazuki Yao, Kyohko Sakakibara, Yumiko Shibata, Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Hidemasa Shibata, Kazuyoshi Sogabe, Hikari Akiyama, Eiji Maruyama
Directed by Shin-Ichi Makaki
I hope you’re in the mood for contemplating the philosophical meaning of coffee, because there sure is a lot of it in The Humanoid. In fact, there’s probably more discussion about coffee than there is about the humanoid itself. The opening line is a statement that coffee is the only thing worth living for. It’s the kind of thing you would expect an alcoholic to say about his liquor of choice. And the movie ends with another fumbling attempt to convey the meaning of life through coffee metaphors. It may not work as a literary device, but it does make an effective metaphor for the plot, which is just as fumbling, incoherent, and meaningless.
The Humanoid is supposedly about a robotic femme fatale with a sleek, sexy chrome body. It’s actually not. While there are several action scenes, there’s only one towards the end where the humanoid, Antoinette, actually starts kicking ass. It’s pretty short and unimpressive. And it’s really hard to pull off the sexy femme fatale thing while wearing a loose-fitting jumpsuit that looks more like a prison uniform. Beyond that, Antoinette is a glorified maid, so rather than thinking, “Yes! Time for some action!” when she started tearing through military hardware like tin foil, it only made me wonder just why the hell the maid robot was so badass.
The story, as explained by the Star Wars rip-off text crawl, is about some princess with gargantuan eyes residing in exile and the weird political power struggle revolving around her. In fact, this has nothing much to do with anything, and we instead find the main plot to revolve around a guy named Eric who works on a coffee transport ship. His latest route has taken him to the planet his sweetheart Sheri lives on, and he’s looking forward to some R&R. Sheri’s dad is a scientist that built Antoinette to take care of his luxurious home while he sits on top of pillars and talks to elderly statesmen.
After getting shot down by mysterious aircraft, Eric and his boss hike halfway through a jungle to get to Sheri’s place, and then they get in a water fight with Antoinette. What else would you do with a maid robot while out on a date? There’s also some generic villain who wants to take over the world, and the whole power struggle ends in a manner that I can only describe as unsatisfying. The climax’s only redeeming aspect is the cheesy rock montage when Antoinette finally ditches that jumpsuit during the one moment of the film to actually feature good animation. To be fair, the film actually has some pretty nice music if you’re into ’80s power ballads, and the rock montages are the best parts.
There’s supposed to be some kind of emotional development to Antoinette, but we have no emotional attachment to her, so her feelings don’t hold any meaning. Instead, it feels forced and artificial. Perhaps the main problem with The Humanoid is that it is too short. 45 minutes isn’t enough time to start caring about any of the characters, so the whole story falls into cheesy melodrama. But who am I kidding, there’s not enough quality in this production. A longer runtime would just add more odd coffee references and goofy plot devices while leaving me just as unimpressed.
On the other hand that might actually be fun. The Humanoid has a lot of dumb stuff, but it’s the kind of dumb that’s easy to laugh at. It’s far from good, but at least it’s not boring. So while it’s hard to recommend, if you think stupid B-movies are funny then you might get your fair share of fun out of this title. Bonus points if you dig ’80s music. Just be sure to bring a cup of joe for the ambiance.