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Spriggan

spriggan-1
Genre: Action
Company: Kawasaki/Studio 4ºC
Format: 1 movie
Dates: 1/1/1998

Inside Mount Ararat in Turkey was found an immeasurable ship-like artifact baptized Noah’s Ark, suspected of belonging to an ancient civilization. The international organization ARCAM’s job is to protect such potential weapons from falling into the wrong hands. The problem with this case is that the wrong hands have plenty of firepower on their side and want to acquire the Ark by any means necessary. Its protection is a task out of reach for any normal human being. Auspiciously, Yu Ominae (ARCAM’s top agent) is everything but normal.

summary by Kjeldoran

 

Reviewed: 04/19/2004 by
Grade: 70% av-Kjeldoran

Highs: Tidy animation; well orchestrated battles; interesting villains and motives

Lows: Last-minute development for plot and characters; puts action before everything else

Spriggan only scratches the surface of the vast story offered in the manga as it tries to condense so many dynamics in such a small amount of time. Akira, anyone? Even if it has plenty to work with, its first priority remains action.

At least it’s high-quality action. We are talking big-budgeted and nicely choreographed; the kind that almost makes one forget all the plot and character related questions. But when you finally accept the fact that this movie will not offer anything other than brawls and superpowers, out of the blue come these shocking revelations and long-awaited psychological profiles. Better late than never. It may be a nice gesture but I need more… a lot more.

Not all characters benefit from these unexpected personal histories; a few, like Jean-Jacques Mondo, bear hardly more depth than a rock. Spriggan‘s main villain single-handedly makes things interesting. His design, voice actor and motivations are respectively meticulous, on target and reasoned. Yet, sadly, he does not get the proper background, either, since this would have probably encroached on the valuable time allotted to people getting shot.

Big names, big budget and big ambitions cannot make up for a lack of profundity. I would die a happy man if every anime producer would understand big manga are sometimes best suited for OVA series instead of the usual heavy-cramming treatment. Spriggan goes all out at the finish line; had it kept that tempo from beginning to end, this would have been one compelling anime.

 

Reviewed: 06/14/2004 by
Grade: 68% av-Eek

Highs: Top quality production values; action that will leave you drooling

Lows: All play but no work

If you have read the Akira manga and then watched the movie, you know you’ve seen a real travesty. Although it doesn’t try to cram six tankoubon into ninety minutes, the same can be said of Spriggan; a story arc is used as the basis for the movie, but the substance is shredded in favor of style.

But what style it has! Spriggan boasts incredibly detailed artwork down to stray patches of snow on the sides of mountains, as well as very fluid animation that rivals even the latest anime movies. The outstanding musical score is merely the cherry on top of it all because the action scenes are definitely the icing. As Ominae battles his way through car chases, sword fights, gun battles and psychic blasts, you’ll be at the edge of your seat just watching him fight to win the day. Great camera positioning and choreography can be thanked for making the combat so thrilling to watch, as well as the numerous abilities each character pulls out of his bag of tricks left and right.

While someone was out having fun with this movie, they forgot that work is needed to make an anime solid. Any sort of development or non-action scene is merely skimmed through in favor of three things: lots of gore, a high body count and large explosions. Numerous scenes (that weren’t in the manga) were inserted just for more fights rather than devoting valuable time to fleshing out Ominae, Jean or even the story. The abrupt ending hints at something larger beyond this movie, but it remains to be seen what exactly the Colonel meant by his words.

Like Akira, this anime would be much better suited on the small screen. If you like your action with a helping or two of substance, you won’t find it here, but if you want action with a lot of bang and blood, then Spriggan is right up your alley.


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