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éX-Driver: The Movie

exdrivermov1-2
Genre: Action
Company: Bandai Visual
Format: 1 movie
Dates: 4/20/2002

Japanese éX-Drivers Lisa, Lorna and Soichi find themselves in the United States with only two things on their minds: winning an international race set in California and learning to drive on the “wrong” side of the road. Neither of these obstacles prove to be as difficult as what awaits them behind the scenes; the Mafia, gambling, shooting and kidnapping are just a few of the things looking to stop the éX-Drivers from joining the winner circle.

summary by Kain

 

Reviewed: 04/10/2004 by
Grade: 59% av-Kain

Highs: Sweet driving scenes; authentic sound effects

Lows: Unacceptable character animation; flat personalities; barely a story; weak soundtrack

I’m still waiting for the day when one of these specialty, niche anime (especially ones based on cars) can showcase somewhat deep characters and a plot that didn’t come from a bubblegum machine. And after watching éX-Driver: The Movie, I suppose my wait shall continue.

If there was one thing that I expected going in, it’s a careful attention to detail and authenticity. Indeed, just about all of the driving scenes have been painstakingly researched. Driving techniques from drifting around a tight corner to heel-and-toe shifting are conveyed realistically. The sounds of the automotive world are just as good as the sights; big block Chevy V8s rumble with a thundering roar, turbochargers scream toward the redline and tires squeal with plenty of wheel hop. Pretty impressive.

And then we get to the important parts of any anime: characters and story. While not absolutely atrocious, I detected neither character development, personality nor a story worth the paper it was printed on. The music, when I noticed it, was just a terrible cacophony of quasi-trendy pop. I will definitely not be buying the CD any time soon; at least Initial D has some solid Eurobeat tracks.

Such a thin movie should have stunning visuals at least, right? Aside from the cars (which were done well in CG), the character animation was downright horrid… especially for a movie. Car nuts will find this flick fast and furious, but I need more than is offered here to whet my appetite. This anime is not tasty.

 

Reviewed: 04/10/2004 by
Grade: 42% av-Keitaro

Highs: Character design; entertaining chase scenes

Lows: Appalling animation; horrible plot; character interactions feel forced

Anime like this are hit or miss. Certainly this movie was destined from the start to develop a large fan base, as these niche anime tend to do. Don’t be fooled by the hype. I am most certainly not an admirer of this movie’s OVA predecessor, and yet even I was frustrated by the lack of actual substance to be found here. éX-Driver: The Movie fails to be anything more than a recycled idea that didn’t work the first time… and didn’t work this time, either.

The worst thing about éX-Driver: The Movie is that the concept really could have worked. This was proven to me in éX-Driver: Danger Zone. If a twenty-minute movie based on the same idea could be entertaining on a deeper level than simply cars going fast, why couldn’t this full-length movie do the same? There is truly barely a story to be found here. Every time something mildly interesting happens, it becomes apparent it was just a weak excuse for the éX-Drivers to get in their cars and start driving. I wouldn’t go as far as saying style over substance is the problem here, as I’m not very impressed by the style, either. The race scenes are animated using CG and they look terrible. The character animations are downright awful, as well. There is less fast-paced action to be found here than in this movie’s counterparts, and on top of that is an awful soundtrack. I don’t get it: what’s the big draw? Perhaps this anime’s saving grace is the great looking Fujishima Kosuke-inspired character designs.

Plain and simple: skip this movie. If you are a fan of street racing, I urge you to watch Initial D or even this movie’s big-screen counterpart, éX-Driver: Danger Zone. This movie is simply a waste of time for anyone, be it hyped or not.

 

éX-Driver: The Movie  can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.


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