Stephen reviews: Space Travelers: The Animation (2000)

spacetravelers_1Space Travelers: the Animation [スペーストラベラーズ The Animation] (2000)

Starring Shinichiro Miki, Banjou Ginga, Hideki Ogihara, Kotono Mitsuishi, Shigeru Chiba, Takaco Kato, Yutaka Aoyama, Hisayoshi Izaki, Mahito Tsujimura

Directed by Takeshi Ui


Space Travelers was a live-action film that had nothing to do with space travel. It involved a group of loser bank robbers who tried to make themselves seem less like losers by pretending to be anime characters. Methinks there was a rather large flaw in that logic. In any case, the filmmakers decided to capitalize on the idea by also making the anime that the live-action characters were imitating, hence we got Space Travelers: The Animation.

The film is really a satire of the genre and so it is something of a deliberate B-movie. Not knowing any of this before diving in, I expected nothing more than a cheap bit of generic crap. I wasn’t disappointed either. It’s a pretty generic space adventure story that gathers a bunch of very shallow characters together for a bunch of vaguely coherent action scenes. That’s kind of selling the film short, though. It’s actually rather fun, and its sheer exuberance makes up for any of its shortcomings.

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Stephen reviews: Loups=Garous (2010)

loupsgarous_1Loups=Garous [ルー=ガルー] (2010)

Starring Kanae Oki, Hiromi Igarashi, Marina Inoue, Miyuki Sawashiro, Kana Uetake, Yutaka Aoyama, Kunihiro Kawamoto, Eriko Hirata

Directed by Junichi Fujisaku


Loups=Garous opens with a statement about wolves killing people in the distant past, and the title itself translates from French as werewolves. This is not a film about werewolves, though, or even regular wolves. They apparently died off a long time ago in this story. The film is about serial killers, which makes it something of a mystery story.

It’s also set in a utopian future where all food is synthetic, thus eliminating the need to kill animals for food. That theme of what it means to be a killer is the primary focus of Loups=Garous. Unfortunately, it seems to lose track of that theme for half of the film. After the brief opening, we don’t see anything that connects to that idea until the second half. It makes the film feel like two different stories spliced together. It also makes that theme feel unclear. I could see its shadow under the surface trying to make itself known, but I never got a feel for where they were going with the concept.

Part of the trouble is that the main character, Haduki Makino, has nothing much to do with things. She’s present for all of it, but she just sits around more often than she participates. She is a regular high school girl with “communication impediment,” which basically means she’s shy and doesn’t make friends easily. In the future where most communication is done through technology rather than face to face, this isn’t uncommon. The first half of the film is more of a high school drama that revolves around her growth as she tries to overcome her shyness and talk with her friends.

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