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Anime ● Review: Megazone 23 Part I & Part II

English Title: Megazone 23

Japanese Title: メガゾーン23

Director(s): Ishiguro Noboru

Screenwriter(s): Hoshiyama Hiroyuki

Studio: Artland, Artmic

Released: 1985

Runtime: 1h 20m

 

English Title: Megazone 23 Part 2: Please Give Your Secret

Japanese Title: メガゾーン23パート2 秘密を教えてください

Director(s): Itano Ichiro

Screenwriter(s): Hoshiyama Hiroyuki

Studio: Artland, Artmic

Released: 1986

Runtime: 1h 20m

Starring: Kubota Masato, Yao Kazuki, Kawamura Maria, Shou Mayumi, Tominaga Mina, Shiozawa Kaneto, Miyasato Kumi


My Verdict: Some consider it a modern classic. Interesting premise. Clumsy plotting. Cheesy and tries too hard with its gratuitous nudity and violence.


Megazone 23

● Set in what appears to be present-day Japan (presumably Tokyo judging by the Shinagawa and Nerima license plates), the story follows Yahagi Shogo who gets his hands on a highly advanced motorbike. It’s not his but he decides to keep it since the military wants it and is willing to kill for it. Shogo soon finds out that the world is not what it appears to be…


● Released in 1985 and having a main character that rides a red motorbike, this presumably is taking a page out of the manga Akira first released in 1982. The film was released in 1988.


● The premise is interesting enough but some aspects in the opening act are too contrived. Shogo bumps into Takanaka Yui, meeting her for the first time, who becomes the love interest. She just happens to be flatmates with his friends Mai and Tomomi. A simpler and more plausible scenario would be either Yui need not be flatmates with his friends or he meets her through them as she is their new flatmate.


Shogo
Shogo
Yui
Yui

● In case one is wondering, it is not a virtual world. This is not some sort of Matrix although Megazone 23 no doubt influenced works like The Matrix.


● It is a good idea and AI being central to how this world works may resonate now more than when this was first released.


● There is plenty of 1980s cheese: blatant brand placements including plenty of cigarettes and beer, insert songs that go on (even though the songs themselves are not bad), gratuitous nudity, blood and gore. These elements are not necessarily excessive in terms of frequency but are rather too blatant. Although these moments are sometimes comical or cringeworthy, they strangely don’t entirely ruin the work.


● The pacing, although arguably normal for works of that era, can be faster. It is good that Part 1 does not rush into it. But once the nature of the world is revealed, some of the expositions regarding the military and their plan to counter the threat that the world faces remain unclear for a bit too long.


● Of course, with Shogo as the main viewpoint character, the audience cannot know too much too quickly. Nevertheless, the story needs to develop and progress.


● Part 2 is set about six months after the end of Part 1 and is somewhat of a leap. [Potential Spoiler] Shogo has somehow joined a group of punks with plans to counter the military and the status quo in a cheesy mini-revolution.


● Whilst it is good the narrative doesn’t get bogged down on how he ends up with the group and how he explains to them what’s going on, the narrative doesn’t mention it either. A few comments made in passing would suffice.


● Although the production is similar, Shogo is voiced by a different actor and, given the premise, the story feels like a different sub-genre. It is as if it is trying too hard to be “violent cyberpunk” with all the mecha and action.


● Ultimately, the production is generally decent. The art design is good even if some of it is derivative. Visually, it is overall solid even for its time although Part 2 at times comes across as a little lazy compared to Part 1. The overall pacing can be tighter and although one can understand the plot, certain details (plot devices) can use more care as the plotting is somewhat clumsy. That said, at least the ending is fitting enough.


Shogo on the bike being chased by cops.
Shogo on the bike being chased by cops.
 

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