Tag Archives: katsuhiro otomo

Review: Spriggan (1998) Anime | My Reviews 24 JAN 2013

ARCAM, a mysterious secret organization was originally set up to safeguard the enigmatic and powerful artefacts left behind by a technologically superior race that once ruled the Earth, before being destroyed by their own power. ARCAM’s private military force is enhanced by the inclusion of so-called Spriggan, humans with enhanced abilities like super speed and reflexes. One of these Spriggans is Japanese teenage delinquent Yu Ominae.

Following the latest discovery of what is believed to be Noah’s Ark deep in the Ararat Mountains of Turkey, Yu finds himself dragged into conflict as an unnamed group targets him through the manipulation of his friends. Now in Turkey, Yu must battle the forces of a USA who are desperate to seize the artefact for their own nefarious purposes, and who have sent along their own powerful (and slightly deranged) Machinists team.

But the genetically enhanced, psionic-enabled leader Colonel MacDougall has other, even more sinister plans for Noah’s Ark should he be able to claim it for himself…

Based on the manga of the same name, Studio 4°C unleashed Spriggan to Japanese audiences back in 1998. The movie was directed and story boarded by Hirotsugu Kawasaki, written by Kawasaki and Yasutaka Ito, and supervised by Katsuhiro Otomo. Hiroshi Takashige and Ryoji Minagawa had a hand in assisting the director through production.

In other words, some of the top 90’s action anime talent all had a hand in this one!

The story premise is an interesting one and certainly makes for a great set up for all the intense action that is to follow. Unfortunately the writing isn’t all that good though, as the story has a few holes and given its action-orientated nature, fails to emotionally tie you to any of the characters or for that matter the actual plot.

However, all that said, what Spriggan does do and does do well is pound you with unrelenting action that is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat for pretty much the entire 90 minute run time!

However, what really makes Spriggan stand out is its jaw-dropping detailed and smooth animation, its effortless choreography of the action sequences and its breathtaking visual style. This really is a pinnacle of 90’s anime animation techniques.

In the same vein, the voice actors all put in a great go as their respective characters, backed by a fast and tightly woven musical score.

In short, although Spriggan is not necessarily a story heavyweight that will ensure it is fondly remembered by all fans, it does however hugely satisfy all gun fight action fanatics and based on its quality of animation alone, it should definitely be regarded as a 90’s anime treasure!

Worth picking up if you want a nice adrenaline boost from the 90’s then.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spriggan_(manga)

Review: Akira (1988) Anime | My Reviews 11 JUN 2009

AkiraIt’s pretty difficult to call yourself a true anime otaku if you’ve never laid eyes on Akira, Katsuhiro Otomo’s seminal 1988 movie based on his manga of the same name.

The story is set in Neo-Tokyo in 2019 and revolves around young bike gang leader Shotaro Kaneda and his right-hand man, best friend Tetsuo Shima. During a run-in with another rival gang, Tetsuo is involved in a high speed bike accident while trying to avoid a mysterious figure who appeared in the middle of road. These events begin to link up and Tetsuo awakens some sort of latent psychic abilities, abilities that appear to have come at the cost of his sanity and inexplicably links him to ‘Akira’, the cause of the explosion that started World War III thirty-one years earlier!

From there the story launches into an escalating battle as Tetsuo’s madness continues to increase and control over his abilities continues to diminish, making him the target of both the military who wish to destroy him and Kaneda that wishes to save him…

The movie is a considerable step away from the original 6-volume long tome but still manages to keep the heart of the story going, and despite missing tons of the original material, the movie evolves into a competent, gritty action/adventure film with some decent sci-fi twists and an extremely satisfying ending, even if this is the point at which the movie decides to divert just a little off the path of normality. At the same time it manages to drive a fairly complex cast of characters across the story-scape, despite the fact that for the most part, you really can’t like or empathize with any of the characters because, well, when it all comes down to it – they’re all pretty much lowlifes at heart.

However, while the story and storytelling itself isn’t necessarily a complete stroke of genius, the animation employed (especially for that period in anime’s history), is simply sublime. An extremely high cel count means extremely smooth animation and picture quality, cutting edge (well for back then anyway) and clever visual effects like the bikes’ light trails add an uncanny level of ‘coolness’ to the movie, extreme attention to properly edited lip syncing and Otomo’s distinctive character models combined with his high level of detail makes for an absolutely fantastic visual spectacular, ’nuff said.

Add to this a masterfully composed soundtrack by Shoji Yamashiro and you get one of anime’s most recognised masterpieces, a film that was perhaps foremost at the heart of the 1990s anime popularity revival here in the West.

Again, if you haven’t seen this before, then I certainly recommend that you make the effort because this is undoubtedly one of the greatest ever anime movie releases of all time!

akira anime 1

Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akira_(film)