Stephen reviews: You’re Under Arrest: The Movie (1999)

youreunderarrest_1You’re Under Arrest: The Movie [逮捕しちゃうぞ Taiho Shichauzo – The Movie] (1999)

Starring Sakiko Tamagawa, Akiko Hiramatsu. Bin Shimada, Etsuko Kozakura, Rika Matsumoto, Issei Masamune, Tomokazu Seki, Ryoko Sakakibara, Takeshi Watanabe, Ikuya Sawaki, Masaki Aizawa, Masato Sako

Directed by Junji Nishimura


Back in the ’90s You’re Under Arrest was fairly popular, though not as popular as Kōsuke Fujishima’s other creation, Oh My Goddess. I never felt it was anything beyond average, but it was entertaining enough. It was a buddy cop series that mixed together action, adventure, and comedy. The two female leads, Miyuki and Natsumi, patrolled around Tokyo in some remarkably tiny vehicles (which actually do exist) with the typical humor derived from their conflicting personalities that you would expect.

The movie veers a little off course by focusing more on the entire police station rather than the main characters. This takes away from the whole buddy cop premise, and it kinda left me disappointed since that’s what I was going into the film expecting. Another missing hallmark of the series is the car chases. The villain of the film has hacked into the traffic lights and caused traffic jams all across Tokyo, which makes it pretty hard to have a fun and exciting car chase (although it was rather funny that they had to drag their patrol car around town by boat and helicopter). In fact the first half of the film has only one or two minor action scenes at all, so you have to wait quite a while before the movie finally starts to get entertaining. It takes a lot of inspiration from the Patlabor films, especially the second one, which has a very similar ending.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: You’re Under Arrest: The Movie (1999) →

Stephen reviews: Perfect Blue (1997)

perfect_blue1Perfect Blue [パーフェクト・ブルー] (1997)

Starring Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto

Directed by Satoshi Kon


This film worms its way under your skin and never comes back out. I knew this going into it, since I saw it back when it first came out, and its haunting tone and disjointed worldview have stayed with me ever since. In fact, I watched it at least three times back then and spent a good deal more time skimming around the last half trying to figure out just what in the hell was going on. I never really did. It’s one of those movies that really deserves the phrase “mind bending.” This time though, I think I finally got it. My sense of the surreal and the strange has been honed over the past decade. I wasn’t really ready for it as a teen, but I am now.

It’s difficult to sum up the nature of this film. While looking for horror anime to review for October, I noticed this film on someone’s top 10 list of horror anime. This surprised me, and never would have occurred to me normally, but after some thought I realized it was true. If movies ever scared me, this one would have given me nightmares. It can be called a slasher film, but it doesn’t have the body count necessary for a slasher film. Nor is it a mystery, since there is no single villain, and even at the end it’s arguable who killed who. It’s really a psychological thriller about a woman slowly going insane.

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Stephen reviews: X (1996)

X (1996)
AKA X/1999, X: Their Destiny Was Foreordained 1999

Starring Tomokazu Seki, Ken Narita, Yūko Minaguchi, Atsuko Takahata, Junko Iwao, Tōru Furusawa, Masako Ikeda, Kazuhiko Inoue,Mami Koyama, Rica Matsumoto, Kotono Mitsuishi, Issei Miyazaki, Jōji Nakata, Yukana Nogami, Toshihiko Seki, Emi Shinohara, Hideyuki Tanaka, Kōichi Yamadera

Directed by Rintaro


No, the title X has nothing to do with the film’s rating. It is in fact rated R. There’s no sex anywhere, and the only nudity is in the incredibly creepy opening scene where the main character, Kamui, confronts his naked mother. Before Kamui can do much of anything, his mother rips open her own stomach with her bare hands and pulls out a massive sword, which she then stabs into Kamui’s stomach. And just to end the scene on a confusing note, because it wasn’t confusing enough apparently, Mommy dearest spontaneously explodes in a spray of blood and severed limbs. Things like this are why Japan has cornered the WTF market. It certainly grabs your attention, but even after watching the film I’m not sure whether that scene was a dream sequence, or literal event. It doesn’t matter much though, as there isn’t much difference between the two in this movie. People travel through dreams, and the film is filled with apocalyptic visions.

The movie is about the end of the world, and the two groups fighting over it: the Dragons of Heaven who want to preserve modern civilization, and the Dragons of Earth that want to return the world to its natural state. Each side has six members in addition to the two fortune-telling sisters that lead them, and that means there’s obviously going to be some limits on how well we get to know them. Many characters have a sort of “Hi! Bye!” feel to them, just getting enough time to show off their stuff before dying. This film is an adaptation of a comic book series, and the problem of condensing a longer story will always be present. Rintaro has learned a few things in the decade since he directed The Dagger of Kamui, though, and the pacing in X is smooth throughout the film, giving a balanced focus to as many characters as it could.

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