Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Gundress Anime Movie Review

Anime Works-Media Blasters
Movie - 80 mins. - 1 disc
$29.95 (2002)
ISBN 631595021875
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Katsuyoshi Yatabe
Studio - ORCA (I think)

Synopsis: The year is 2100 and Bayside City employs a private security group called Angel Arms to handle high-level threats.  The group is made up of five beautiful women who pilot five distinct mecha suits.  The team leader is Alissa and she's a true badass who doesn't take orders from anyone.  The Angels take down an arms dealer named Hassan and his group of henchmen on a cargo ship at the docks.
Hassan is protected by a cyborg
They manage to capture Hassan, but now the true mission unfolds.  Looks like some shady government officials want Hassan dead before he can point any fingers.  Now the Angels must protect Hassan before a group of killers manage to put out his lights.  Alissa meets one of the killers face-to-face and recognizes him from her past.  Seems like she has a questionable origin which may come back to haunt her.
The Angels in action
The bad guys have a set of powerful landmates which put the Angels to the test.  Can they protect Hassan against the deadly killers?  What will Alissa find out when she confronts her former lover?  Will the Angels' boss, Takako, manage to reign in Alissa before she goes too far?  Get ready for an action-packed showdown!
Alissa comes face-to-face with her past!
Pros: Masamune Shirow provides character and mecha designs, opening/ending songs are okay, a little comedy, lots of action, two extended nude scenes
The rest of the Angels - don't worry, you won't need to know about them
Cons: Terrible animation, weak dub, Shirow's character designs are completely butchered, Shirow's mecha designs are severely butchered as well, plot is not good, ending is confusing, characters are one-dimensional with no development, takes a bunch of concepts from other Shirow works
The enemy mecha investigate...a teddy bear?
Mike Tells It Straight: Where to even start on how crappy Gundress is?  It sucks on many levels, but I'll start with the horrible animation.  It's inconsistent, simple, choppy, and completely murders the original drawings by Shirow (well known for Ghost in the Shell, Appleseed, and Dominion Tank Police).  I'm sure he regrets lending his talent to this poor feature.  He apparently designed the looks of the characters and mecha, but the animation team couldn't match the level of detail.  It's interesting to note the animation studio is not listed in the credits and I can't any information on who is responsible.  It's a bad sign when no one wants to step forward and claim credit.
Alissa rides a little mechanical Tachikoma, er, droid thingie
The story and characters are lame as well.  All of the characters are one-dimensional with practically no backstory.  Alissa and the main bad guy are the only ones who get origins while the other characters get barely any screen time.  Angel Arms boasts five distinct members, but we never really get to see anyone besides Alissa do anything.  A bunch of Shirow concepts are plugged into this movie - thermal-optic camouflage (invisibility), landmates (mecha suits with little arms for the driver to control the bigger arms), full-body cyborgs, the Tachikomas, and virtual reality.
Alissa naked and in cyberspace?
It seems like Shirow was hard up on money and signed away his rights to have his ideas raped to make this awful movie.  It's hugely mediocre and was originally released unfinished in Japanese theaters to fund the completion of the animation.  Epic fail on whatever the writers were trying to accomplish.  I don't recommend watching this movie at all.  Low entertainment value and a monumental disservice to Shirow's talent.  
The Angels run around in their mecha suits!

TO BUY and Recommendations: