Spriggan (Japan 1998)

Rating: **
Review Date: 7/13/01

A warning from a technologically advanced civilization is found, along with some of their superior technology. To preserve and protect the technology from basically everyone, a defense organization called Arcam is established, which utilizes genetically engineered super human soldiers known as "spriggan". A seventeen year old high school brat named Yu Ominae is the top spriggan in the world, and he's just become a target for a terrorist organization that is trying to take over one of Arcam's archeological digs. You see, Arcam has just uncovered the legendary Noah's Ark buried deep within Mt. Ararat in Turkey, and it's quite a spectacular find. Naturally, the U.S. Pentagon wants the power of Noah's Ark and sends in a creepy cyborg boy named MacDougal to secure the site. Except that MacDougal turns against his masters and decides he wants to play god instead. It turns out that the ark is actually a weather controlling device and a bioengineering lab, wherein ancient alien experiments actually created the human race. MacDougal wants to wipe out everyone on the planet and create a new human race, and only Yu can stop him.

It's definitely a macho guy flick, with big guns and even bigger explosions. In fact, there is only one female in the entire film, and she doesn't even do anything (she's a lab assistant). The animation is slick and high quality, as you would expect from the same team that brought you "Akira" (1989) and "Ghost In The Shell" (1995), but jerky and erratic camera movement often spoils the tone. Unfortunately, the story is weak, the characters are undeveloped and uninteresting, and the continuity is shaky. Quite honestly, even with all of the hyperactive action scenes, I found the film extremely dull. Another serious flaw in the film is in the sound department, although that might just be the result of a poor film transfer. The audio on the DVD is appalling - the dialog is muted and almost impossible to hear, while the background music and sound effects are overly loud and clipped. It's physically painful to listen to the film.

I was originally going to go on about how pissed I was that ADV Films has been sitting on this property for several years and isn't planning to release it domestically until 2002, but after seeing the film I'm not so annoyed anymore because it really isn't that great. The film also has a strong anti-American sentiment to it, so maybe that's holding back the domestic release. It still doesn't make sense to me though - the longer you sit on a film, the more money you're losing from potential sales and the less interested people are in seeing it. But I digress... And what is with the Japanese fascination with Noah's Ark, and why do they always interpret it as a bioengineering facility of mysterious origin? (and Mt. Ararat is a popular resting place) I've seen this show up in several places, including at least two Japanese video games I've played. Very strange.