Stephen reviews: Strait Jacket (2007)

Strait Jacket [ ストレイト・ジャケット] (2007)
AKA Strait Jacket – Legend of the Demon Hunter

Starring Ai Maeda, Kei Shindou, Shinichiro Miki, Akira Sasanuma, Asami Imai

Directed by Shinji Ushiro


Do you like Full Metal Alchemist, but wish it had a bit more angst? Then Strait Jacket is the movie for you. I don’t mean this as an insult, but there is a good deal of similarity between the two. Both feature a scientific use of magic that’s heavy on mystic symbols and big suits of armor in a world with somewhat modern technology and an ample supply of mutated human monsters rampaging about.

Where the two stories differ is that Strait Jacket‘s main character, Reiot, doesn’t get involved with changing the course of nations. It instead focuses on a more personal scale, exploring his sense of overwhelming guilt for the mistakes of his past. He is a hunter of demons, who are former humans mutated into deranged monsters by unprotected exposure to magic. It is Reiot’s recognition that these demons are, or at least were, humans that makes him see himself as a mass murderer.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: Strait Jacket (2007) →

Stephen reviews: Escaflowne: The Movie (2000)

Escaflowne: the Movie [エスカフローネ Escaflowne] (2000)
AKA Vision of Escaflowne: A Girl in Gaea

Starring Maaya Sakamoto, Tomokazu Seki, Jouji Nakata, Shinichiro Miki, Ikue Ohtani, Minami Takayama, Aki Takeda

Directed by Kazuki Akane


I have only seen Escaflowne: The Movie once before, back when I first got a hold of the DVD set, which must have been around 15 years ago by now. In that time I had forgotten pretty much everything about it, except that it had disappointed me all those years ago. The TV series has long been one of my favorite anime series, and I felt like the movie just couldn’t compare. A big part of this was because Escaflowne is a mecha series, and the movie only has one fairly short giant robot fight. I’ve wanted to revisit this film for a while now without having the series fresh in my mind to color my expectations, and that day has finally come.

The movie is drastically different from the TV series, and the first time I saw it, those differences were the main thing I was upset about. This time however, those differences were what I found to be the most fascinating part of the story. I’m actually glad the film isn’t just a simple rehash of the show. Instead it gave me brand new things to see, which makes it much more worth watching than simply retelling the same story I’ve already seen. Even better, because events are so different, there are no spoilers of the show inside the film, so it can be watched all on its own and still leave the series as a fresh experience for later viewing.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: Escaflowne: The Movie (2000) →

Stephen reviews: Space Travelers: The Animation (2000)

spacetravelers_1Space Travelers: the Animation [スペーストラベラーズ The Animation] (2000)

Starring Shinichiro Miki, Banjou Ginga, Hideki Ogihara, Kotono Mitsuishi, Shigeru Chiba, Takaco Kato, Yutaka Aoyama, Hisayoshi Izaki, Mahito Tsujimura

Directed by Takeshi Ui


Space Travelers was a live-action film that had nothing to do with space travel. It involved a group of loser bank robbers who tried to make themselves seem less like losers by pretending to be anime characters. Methinks there was a rather large flaw in that logic. In any case, the filmmakers decided to capitalize on the idea by also making the anime that the live-action characters were imitating, hence we got Space Travelers: The Animation.

The film is really a satire of the genre and so it is something of a deliberate B-movie. Not knowing any of this before diving in, I expected nothing more than a cheap bit of generic crap. I wasn’t disappointed either. It’s a pretty generic space adventure story that gathers a bunch of very shallow characters together for a bunch of vaguely coherent action scenes. That’s kind of selling the film short, though. It’s actually rather fun, and its sheer exuberance makes up for any of its shortcomings.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: Space Travelers: The Animation (2000) →

Stephen reviews: King of Thorn (2009)

King_of_Thorn-982478001-largeKing of Thorn [いばらの王 Ibara no Ō] (2009)

Starring Kana Hanazawa, Eri Sendai, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Akiko Yajima, Sayaka Ohara, Kenji Nomura, Misaki Kuno, Shinichiro Miki, Kousei Hirota, Tsutomu Isobe

Directed by Kazuyoshi Katayama


The premise in King of Thorn closely follows that of a horror movie, however it never really feels like a horror movie. This may simply be that I’m not a huge horror fan, and not all that attuned to the genre conventions. But as much as this uses the tried and true formula of trapping a diverse group of people in one spot and then slowly killing them off one by one, it never tries to amp up the terror. It’s all about adrenaline-pumping action and head-scratching conspiracies.

This was a pretty enjoyable film all things considered. Since I’m not much for horror, the downplay of its creepier elements worked well for me. Perhaps the biggest problem is that once they start explaining all the mysteries, you may well become even more confused. The film delves into the kind of metaphysical weirdness that anime is so often fond of. I would love to give you more of a heads up, but explaining anything beyond that would just be spoiling the plot. Also, I’m not quite sure myself just what was going on. I’ll need to watch this one again someday to see if it actually makes sense. Just make sure you go into this film knowing it’s going to get weird.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: King of Thorn (2009) →

Stephen reviews: Darkside Blues (1994)

Darkside Blues [ダークサイド・ブルース] (1994)

Starring Akio Ohtsuka, Hideyuki Hori, Kotono Mitsuishi, Kōichi Yamadera, Masako Katsuki, Maya Okamoto, Natsuki Sakan, Nozomu Sasaki, Shinichiro Miki, Yasunori Matsumoto

Directed by Yoriyasu Kogawa & Yoshimichi Furukawa


Did you think that just because October is over we were done with the Hideyuki Kikuchi reviews? Well, guess again. Darkside Blues is yet another adaptation of one of his novels, though it isn’t a horror movie by any stretch. Sadly it’s also far too confused and unfocused to make for a good movie. It has at least three main characters, arguably four, and not enough explanation, which makes the story feel like it’s going nowhere.

Set in a dystopian future, the plot pretends to revolve around a dark, mysterious stranger going by the name Darkside who magically appears in one of the few parts of the world not yet owned by the Persona corporation. It seems that Persona sealed the guy in an alternate dimension years ago, and now he’s busted free on an epic quest to use his strange magic powers to give psychiatric therapy to people. I wish I could say he had some awesome plan for vengeance or to free the world from Persona’s tyranny, but all he seems to do is hang out in a motel and “renew” people’s dreams.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: Darkside Blues (1994) →




Subscribe via Email!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 72 other subscribers

Ongoing Series

Top Posts & Pages