Stephen reviews: Early Reins (2003)

earlyreins_1Early Reins [アーリーレインズ] (2003)

Starring Tomoko Kawakami, Aiko Mitsumori, Chiaki Osawa, Junko Takeuchi, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Yoko Sasaki, Youko Mizutani

Directed by Yuji Asada


YEEE-HAAAW! It’s time for a film about train robberies, and shootouts, and cute anime girls with guns. Early Reins compiles a bunch of clichés from westerns and anime into an adventure so exciting that it… well, it’ll kill the better part of an hour, I suppose. It really isn’t all that impressive. But it does have one huge thing going for it. Unlike the vast majority of anime westerns, Early Reins actually exists.

I wish I had something more to say about it, but “it exists” really is the most interesting fact about Early Reins. If you’re looking for an anime western the only other options I’ve even heard of are Gun Frontier (which is pretty hard to track down at this point) or the never released in English Isamu the Wilderness Boy (which is pretty much impossible to track down). If you expand the field, there are a few space westerns out there, and sometimes longer series will decide to throw in a western-themed episode here and there. But if you’re looking for an actual western, this is just about all you’ve got.

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Stephen reviews: Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie (1999)

utenaRevolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie [少女革命ウテナ アドゥレセンス黙示録 Shoujo Kakumei Utena: Adolescence Mokushiroku] (1999)
Literal translation: Revolutionary Girl Utena: Adolescence Apocalypse
AKA The Adolescence of Utena, La Fillette Révolutionnaire Utena

Starring Tomoko Kawakami, Yuriko Fuchizaki, Takehito Koyasu, Kotono Mitsuishi, Kumiko Nishihara, Maria Kawamura, Satomi Koorogi, Mitsuhiro Oikawa, Takeshi Kusao

Directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara


Welcome to my favorite anime film. It might not be the best, but it’s still my favorite. A film of absolute beauty, it’s also the weirdest thing I have ever seen. Now that’s a pretty big statement, but I’ve racked my brain, and I can’t think of anything weirder. I can hear you guys now, saying, come on Stephen, really? Weirder than Perfect Blue? Oh, yes. Weirder than Red Spectacles, even? I’m afraid so. But it can’t be weirder than those sex-changing dominatrixes from outer space in Sailor Moon can it? Now you’re getting close, but not close enough. (And it’s worth noting that Ikuhara also directed Sailor Moon.)

So what could make Revolutionary Girl Utena even weirder than that? Well, I’ll tell you what knocked it out of the park for me. An automated car wash springs out of the ground in the middle of a beautiful rose garden and promptly sucks one of the characters inside. Now if that sentence made any sense to you, go back and read it again because it shouldn’t have. The only thing weirder than that is the remaining half hour of the movie. The first time I saw it, I thought someone had spiked my Pepsi and I had hallucinated the whole thing. I literally rewound it and watched that last half hour again to make sure. And no, I hadn’t been drugged. It really was that weird, and the Cinderella Castle really did try to run the main characters off the road on a fourteen-lane highway.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie (1999) →

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