Spriggan [スプリガン, Supurigan] (1998)
Starring Shotaro Morikubo, Ryuji Aigase, Takehito Koyasu, Katsumi Suzuki, Kenji Taro
Directed by Hirotsugu Kawasaki
Watching this will always be an odd experience for me. Many years ago, my brother gave me the soundtrack to this film. It’s a good soundtrack, haunting and fierce, and I have listened to it quite often ever since. But the thing is, I hadn’t seen the movie before, so when I did finally watch it, I was very familiar with its music already. That may be why Spriggan‘s music feels so prominent to me. It jumps out and takes over the mood of the film far more so than most movies. You may have less affection for the music, but for me, it is one of the most integral parts of the film, lending it an intensity it never could have managed otherwise.
Spriggan is Kawasaki’s first time directing a feature film, and given how little I enjoyed his most recent film, Legend of the Millennium Dragon, you wouldn’t expect me to give this one very high marks. However, Spriggan is quite an enjoyable action movie, and there are tons of things it does better than Millennium Dragon. Perhaps it was Katsuhiro Otomo’s oversight of the project, but I think the biggest reason for this film’s quality is that it was made in 1998. CG effects just weren’t widely available then, and all the frivolous camera spinning Kawasaki adores so much was simply impossible at the time. It turns out that if you take away his toys, Kawasaki can get down to the business of making a movie, and do it fairly well.