Stephen reviews: Garaga (1989)

garaga_1Garaga [ギャラガ] (1989)
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.

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Stephen reviews: Locke the Superman (1984)

lockethesuperman_1Locke the Superman [超人ロック] (1984)
AKA Locke the Superman: Millennium of the Witch, Locke the Superpower, Star Warriors

Starring Keiichi Nanba, Yoshito Yasuhara, Keiko Han, Toshiko Fujita, Taeko Nakanishi

Directed by Hiroshi Fukutomi


In this adventure, Superman fights Lex Luthor’s evil army of — psych! This isn’t actually a Superman film at all. It just coincidentally has the word “Superman” in the title. I’m not sure what confusions the various translations between English and Japanese created, but that’s the name we got. Being unrelated doesn’t mean they aren’t similar, though. Locke is indeed pretty super. He even grabs a red cape and blue outfit just for kicks at the end of the film.

Also like Superman, the Superman has a vast array of powers that make him damn near unstoppable. All right, I have to start clearing things up before we all go insane, myself especially. Fortunately, Superman, the one with the red cape — oh wait they both have that. The one in tights then. Dang it, they both have tights too! OK, the guy from Krypton. They can’t both be from there, right? Good. That one has a few nicknames, so I’ll be referring to him as the Man of Steel just so we’ll know who I’m talking about.

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Stephen reviews: Odin: Photon Space Sailor Starlight (1985)

Odin: Photon Space Sailor Starlight [オーディーン 光子帆船スターライト, Odin – Koshi Hansen Starlight] (1985)
AKA Odin: Starlight Mutiny

Starring Toshio Furukawa, Hideyuki Hori, Keiko Han, Goro Naya, Gentaro Ishida, Tessho Genda, Takeshi Kato, Tsubasa Shioya

Directed by Takeshi Shirado & Eichi Yamamoto


There are two versions of this film floating around. One, Starlight Mutiny, is a heavily edited version available with English dubbing, while Space Sailor Starlight is the unedited version that was never dubbed. The DVD was kind enough to include the option to watch the “standard version” which is actually the reduced and edited version, or the “extended version” which is actually the standard, unaltered version. I suppose it sounded better than “butchered version” and “unbutchered version.” Are they really that different? I didn’t bother trying to watch the short version, but since it cut nearly an hour from the runtime something important had to have been dropped.

To be honest, though, the film was pretty slow, so maybe trimming a few things down wouldn’t have hurt it. It’s almost two and a half hours long in its full edition, which can get pretty tiresome despite its kickin’ ’80s rock montages of people running around on the spaceship. Seriously, these guys board ships with more gusto than a pirate raiding a boat load of gold and virgins. At first I was unsure if they were taking the ship by force, or if they were just starting a rave. It turned out they were just getting to their posts. Somehow this required a lot of exuberance and hard rock. The spaceships in Odin are supposedly powered by laser beams shot from various places around the solar system, but I think it’s actually the concentrated power of pure awesomeness from rock concert light shows. How else can you explain the intense guitar riffs that kick in every time they hit the accelerator?

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