AKA Hyper Psychic Geo Garaga
Starring Toshio Furukawa, Akira Kamiya, Keiko Han, Megumi Hayashibara, Michie Tomizawa, Eiko Yamada. Eiji Maruyama
Directed by Hidemi Kubo
Garaga tries to deliver an action-packed sci-fi epic, and to its credit it is filled to the brim with tons of robots, aliens, and spaceships that are all in a massive tangle of conflict. Honestly, all the parts are there for a great adventure. Unfortunately, they aren’t put together well enough to make it work. It’s too jumbled to make a good story, and the action scenes come off too bland to be viscerally entertaining. Add in a few plot holes and you have a thoroughly lackluster film. A lack of any quality animation doesn’t help matters either.
It starts with the crew of the spaceship XeBeC making a special delivery. They’ve got a general’s daughter in cold sleep, and they need to take her… somewhere. It obviously isn’t all that important since the film never mentions where they are taking her or why. But the ship has been sabotaged, and they crash-land on an unknown planet (OK, not really, it’s actually the planet Garaga) filled with violent ape monsters that want to kill everyone. And this is where the original destination ceases to mean anything, especially since it seems like everyone on the ship was headed to Garaga anyway. I almost thought they were stranded at their destination.
And somehow, all of these people who want to take down the general can’t seem to just get along and wind up fighting amongst themselves the whole time. It’s all a jumbled mess without any sense of direction. Is it about humans oppressing the poor peaceful natives? Is it about robots trying to take over the galaxy and destroy all organic life? Is it about a girl finding out that daddy isn’t the big hero she thought he was? Is it a revenge story? The movie can’t make up its mind what kind of story it wants to tell, so it tries to tell all of them at once. As a result it’s impossible to identify with any of them.
Another of Garaga‘s problems is a lack of any kind of foreshadowing. Plot twists come out of nowhere and feel like some tacked on random bit of confusion rather than an integral part of the story. The characters’ reasons for being there are slipped in through minor bits of dialog and then never elaborated and are easily forgotten. There are some great ideas buried in these brief throwaway explanations that could have been elaborated on if the film had actually chosen to delve into them. One of the best moments was when the humans compare their need for privacy with the psychic race, which has no concept of privacy since they can all read each other’s minds. This could have delivered a very interesting story if it weren’t immediately forgotten and then contradicted by one of the psychics somehow lying to his daughter.
Garaga is pretty unimpressive all around. It’s certainly not good enough to be a satisfying story, and it’s not horrible enough to be either hilarious or repulsive. It’s just bland and forgettable.