The 2nd Dimension

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Viewing Journal: Strait Jacket

Movie Overview
DVD Info

Overall= C-
Story = D+
Video = B-
Audio = D

It is a world where magic and science coexist. Rayotte Steinberg, a lone wolf "tactical sorcerist", fights against monsters. They used to be human beings, but they have overused forbidden power, magic, to turn into monsters. What he wears is "mold", the straitjacket that keeps him human. He carries an explosive magic wand. If he casts magic, he moves one step closer to being a monster. If he doesn't, he will be killed. Among the harsh battles, he will face a sin he committed in the past. (Source: ANN)

Here's another movie where I like the concept, but am less impressed with how it's executed. The story takes place in a world where magic is commonplace and is incorporated with technology to create new practical tools. I think it would have been cool if they would have gone more in depth in explaining the "science" of magic and incorporating those concepts into the story. I usually like stories that do that kind of thing -- taking a concept (even if it's fictional) and exploring all the details and possibilities of it throughout the series (Mushi-shi, Standalone Complex, and Fullmetal Alchemist are a few examples of shows that do this well). But unfortuneately the writers of this movie never consulted me (damn them), so didn't end up going in that direction.

What it does end up being is a monster/gore-fest, and an unimpressive one at that. The magic-science part is only briefly touched upon as a setup to explain why people all over the world are turning into monsters. Apparently the use of magic poisons people in some way so that eventually they turn into rampaging homicidal mutants. The only people who can stop them are "tactical sorcerists" who don "molds" -- suits of armor that carry giant magic-powered monster-killing guns. Rayotte Steinberg is one such sorcerist who has a strange kid sidekick who looks like he has bug-eyes on his forehead and is somehow tied into Steinberg's mysterious past.

The show relies heavily on two things to attract viewers: the monster/gore-fest, and Steinberg's "lone wolf" character. Personally, I'm not really into gory monster flicks to begin with, especially when such little detail is given for why those creatures exist. Violence is cool and all, but -- just like I mentioned in my previous review on Afro Samurai: Resurrection -- you need to answer the "why" behind the violence for it to have any intensity or dramatic impact. For instance, the biggest question I had was why the sorcerists always say "exists" before firing their guns. If there was more detail into that kind of stuff, it would have been a lot more interesting. It's the same thing with Steinberg's character. There is some explanation into why he is the way he is, but since the rest of the story is so sparse on details, that even that little bit of explanation isn't enough make his cool persona convincing.

I do have to admit that the reason I picked up this DVD was because I thought the visuals in the trailer looked cool. But for some reason they didn't look quite so impressive in the movie itself. I guess when you string together all of the best scenes back-to-back, you can make any movie look good. The best animation was during the parts where the tactical sorcerists would fire their guns, but other than that the animation is just average.

I'd comment on the music here, but I honestly can't remember any of it at all. That's usually a good indicator that it was either so perfectly synced with the scenes and meshed so well that I never noticed it, or that it was so unimpressive that it didn't draw my attention in any way. I'm guessing it's probably the later for this one.

In summary, this anime had an interesting initial concept, that was never fully developed and instead focused on violent monster action. So unless you're into that kind of thing, I'd recommend you save your money for something better than this average-to-below-average anime.

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