Stephen reviews: Kimera (1996)

kimera_1Kimera (1996)
AKA Ki*Me*Ra

Starring Yasunori Matsumoto, Mugito, Jurota Kosugi, Tatsuo Tobita, Daisuke Gori, Yoshitaka Arimoto

Directed by Kazu Kokota


Kimera throws a bit of a curveball at you by blending horror with gay romance. I wasn’t quite aware of that particular sub-genre, but I doubt it’s a very large one. What makes it really odd, though, is that the title character is, despite all appearances, actually a woman, and one of the most confusingly gendered characters I’ve ever seen. The film clearly states that she has ovaries and a menstrual cycle, but it makes no mention of male reproductive organs. Kimera, the character, nevertheless looks exactly like a dude. I’m still not sure whether to consider it a cop-out for guys who are insecure about their sexuality so they can say it’s not gay, or whether it was just a forced plot device because the story needed to have a reproductive aspect to work. Either way, it is this gender-bending confusion that becomes the defining aspect of the movie.

This is not the only convoluted thing about this film either. The film’s biggest problem is that its paltry 45-minute run time just isn’t enough time to explain all the ideas that it tackles. I mean, look how long it took me to explain Kimera’s gender, and that’s not even what the film is about. The movie feels very rushed and incomplete, and that really drags it down. If the plot had more room to deal with its ideas it could have been a pretty decent film. As it is, however, it comes across cluttered and incoherent. Other than that, Kimera is a pretty mediocre anime, anyway. If it weren’t for its bizarre gender confusion, it would be a pretty forgettable film.

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Stephen reviews: Black Lion (1992)

blacklion-1Black Lion [時元戦国史 黒の獅士 陣内編 Jigen Sengokushi Kuro no Shishi: Jinnai-hen] (1992)

Starring Yasunori Matsumoto, Yuusaku Yara, Ai Orikasa, Kan Fujimoto

Directed by Takashi Watanabe


I’ve been taking a break for a while, and I wanted to come back with a great movie that would capture the spirit of anime and the whole reason I love it. Something that really captures the essence of the medium. Which brings me to Black Lion, a short film about cyborgs and ninjas in ancient Japan. Jackpot.

Now you might be wondering why there would be cyborgs in ancient Japan, and the answer is simple. Cyborgs are awesome, and ninjas are awesome. So if you put the two together you get something even more awesome. Do you really need an explanation for something that awesome? If you do, then you have come to the wrong place, my friend. Cyborgs fighting ninjas is always awesome, no matter what the reason.

The plot starts with Oda Nobunaga out conquering the area. In this tale, however, he has an army of robot samurai armed with machine guns. His army rips apart the opposing soldiers armed with mere spears and bows. The arsenal quickly escalates to missiles, tanks, lasers, and orbiting spaceships. The conventional firearms of the sixteenth century can’t stand up to the onslaught.

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Stephen reviews: Metal Skin Panic: MADOX-01 (1988)

Metal Skin Panic: MADOX-01 [メタルスキンパニック MADOX-01] (1988)
AKA City of Steel

Starring Yasunori Matsumoto, Youko Asagami, Masayoshi Sogabe, Yukiko Ishida

Directed by Shinji Aramaki


This is a short little sci-fi adventure that doesn’t try to do anything special. I’m afraid I don’t have much to say, but with a runtime of less than one hour there’s not a whole lot to talk about. It’s just a lighthearted romp around town with a cool sci-fi armor suit that sits halfway between insightful speculation and face-palming stupidity. As such, it has some aspects that are pretty good, and other aspects that, well, aren’t.

The premise is that the military somehow loses its cool new prototype super armor during transit, and it somehow winds up in the hands of Koji, a young mechanic, who obviously thinks it’s the coolest thing he’s ever laid eyes on. Of course, he then acts like a complete idiot and decides to try it out for himself. Then he can’t figure out how to get out of the armor, and he is forced to clamber about town to meet his girlfriend at 8:00.

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Stephen reviews: Darkside Blues (1994)

Darkside Blues [ダークサイド・ブルース] (1994)

Starring Akio Ohtsuka, Hideyuki Hori, Kotono Mitsuishi, Kōichi Yamadera, Masako Katsuki, Maya Okamoto, Natsuki Sakan, Nozomu Sasaki, Shinichiro Miki, Yasunori Matsumoto

Directed by Yoriyasu Kogawa & Yoshimichi Furukawa


Did you think that just because October is over we were done with the Hideyuki Kikuchi reviews? Well, guess again. Darkside Blues is yet another adaptation of one of his novels, though it isn’t a horror movie by any stretch. Sadly it’s also far too confused and unfocused to make for a good movie. It has at least three main characters, arguably four, and not enough explanation, which makes the story feel like it’s going nowhere.

Set in a dystopian future, the plot pretends to revolve around a dark, mysterious stranger going by the name Darkside who magically appears in one of the few parts of the world not yet owned by the Persona corporation. It seems that Persona sealed the guy in an alternate dimension years ago, and now he’s busted free on an epic quest to use his strange magic powers to give psychiatric therapy to people. I wish I could say he had some awesome plan for vengeance or to free the world from Persona’s tyranny, but all he seems to do is hang out in a motel and “renew” people’s dreams.

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