Stephen reviews: The Humanoid (1986)

thehumanoid_1The Humanoid [ザ・ヒューマノイド 哀の惑星レザリア] (1986)
AKA MetalliaThe 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.

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Stephen reviews: The Professional: Golgo 13 (1983)

The Professional: Golgo 13 [ゴルゴ13] (1983)

Starring Tetsuro Sagawa, Goro Naya, Reiko Muto, Toshiko Fujita, Kumiko Takizawa, Koichi Chiba, Kousei Tomita, Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Shingo Kanemoto

Directed by Osamu Dezaki

A decade before Leon, it was a Japanese hit man called Golgo 13 that had “The Professional” added to the title of his film for its U.S. release. This long-ago spy thriller follows the adventures of a blue spectacled badass as he scours the globe, taking out hits on various high-level political and criminal leaders, and earning one huge grudge along the way.

Unlike Leon, Golgo’s story is not one to delve into the human psyche, or even delve into his personality at all. Golgo remains a calm and controlled professional at all times, and has the sex appeal to make every girl in the room swoon on sight. So he really bears more resemblance to James Bond than Leon, though Bond has more personality and flare. Golgo handles every situation, no matter how unexpected, with the same stoic and taciturn demeanor, even when having sex, which he does at every opportunity. It’s rather humorous to see him sit there as if he isn’t even interested while the girls flail and moan in uncontrollable ecstasy.

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Stephen reviews: Demon City Shinjuku (1988)

Demon City Shinjuku [魔界都市 (新宿) Makai Toshi (Shinjuku)] (1988)
AKA Hell City Shinjuku, Monster City

Starring Hideyuki Hori, Hiromi Tsuru, Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Kyouko Tonguu, Yuusaku Yara, Asami Mukaidono, Ichirō Nagai

Directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri

The next anime based on Hideyuki Kikuchi novels is directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, the same guy that brought us Ninja Scroll. Considering how awesome that film was, I was eagerly looking forward to this one. It certainly has the animation quality to match that later work, which surprised me coming from an ’80s anime, but unfortunately it left me a bit disappointed in other aspects.

The movie starts out strong, with a kick-ass sword fight across the rooftops of Tokyo that ends with the destruction of Shinjuku. (For the confused at this point, Shinjuku is not actually a city. Rather, it is one of the special wards of Tokyo.) Authorities believe it’s a bizarre earthquake, but we know better. That crazy evil guy we just saw was actually summoning demons to take over the world, and now Shinjuku is under their control. Fast forward 10 years, and Shinjuku is now a haunted wasteland filled only with villains, the dregs of humanity, and the demons that hunt them.

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