Fantasia Film Review: 009 Re: Cyborg

(Source: Production I.G.)

(Source: Production I.G.)

Although it comes from a long and well established manga, I don’t think an introduction would’ve helped 009 Re: Cyborg as a movie. It takes very little to figure out that the aforementioned 009, a.k.a Joe Shimamura, is one of several cyborgs created by Dr. Isaac Gilmore. After regaining his memory, he rejoins his comrades – each of them representing a different ethnicity and/or country.

All that being said, the problem is not where all this characters have been as much as where this movie is trying to take them.

The enemy is almost abstract. They end up fighting the NSA and themselves as well. It appears people in military, government and even cyborgs themselves are vulnerable to this hypnotic command that they call His Voice. When it takes over, it makes them commit terrorists acts supposedly to start over. It’s never explained but everyone keeps having theories about it, except for the appearance of a ghost-like little girl that may or not be related to the event. It’s also never fully identified when or how it happens.

Animation wise, the film is lovely and gorgeous. Sound wise you can feel the planes roaring overhead and the buildings as they shatter and collapse. It just seems like they didn’t have a clear premise to the story so by the time we decide who/what they are fighting next, the talk turns from conspiracy to some sort of religious debate over whether God exists. Essentially it gets boggled down to a semi-religious existential mess and as all cyborgs try to stop some sort of nuclear attack we’re  left wondering what the hell is going on.

Stereotypes abound. And I have issues with the only female cyborg, Françoise, stripping down to lingerie to welcome Joe home. Really?

There’s a moment where Joe asks Françoise how is he alive and she replies that it’s a mystery. I would’ve thrown popcorn at the screen if I had some. Feels like they were trying to do some Evangelion-style crazyness but came up empty. I’m not sure what was director Kenyi Kamiyama aiming for, but I don’t think it hits the target.

All I can think of saying is that it has a cool animation with cool CGI and a story that goes nowhere. Unless you are really, really a fan of the series and can’t miss this, I wouldn’t recommend it.

That will do for now.

Coming up next in Fantasia:

(Sources: 2013 Fantasia Film Festival, 009 RE: CYBORG)

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