009 Re:Cyborg Review (Anime)on September 18, 2015 by Mitch Jay
I’m unfamiliar with the 009 Cyborg franchise and so 009 Re:Cyborg hopes to be a good starting point with its more realistic reimagining, but I don’t think I’ll be looking further into it.
Something about CGI-focused anime appeals to me, maybe because it’s different, and Cyborg proved to be very hit or miss regarding it. The 2D animated backgrounds look stunning and some of the best I’ve seen but whilst CGI is usually used in shows for fluid, smoother movements, having a film based on it looked quite clunky outside of action scenes. Anyway, I’ve gotten ahead of myself when I usually talk about story and characters first, so I’ll get on with it!
The story isn’t particularly special although I like the concept with 9 humans with cyborg implants where they were created to help bring around world peace and fight for justice, but in a world where the meaning of justice has become warped, they’re unsure of what their purpose is. The story is all over the place and I couldn’t explain it to you if I tried, even though it’s relatively simple, solely because it failed to keep me captivated past the first 20 minutes or so which were thrilling. It’s a shame because both the story and characters fall flat despite how great the animation can be at times and, despite intending to be a gritty re-imagining, it’s not very gritty or brutal at all.
The story is poorly paced and never really takes off, something that doesn’t particularly make for a gripping movie. With such a strong start, it’s sad that it dwindles into a bit of a mess and doesn’t quite redeem itself, although the last few minutes were very good. Despite there being 9 cyborgs, it feels like only 4 or so actually got much screentime or did anything important which was disappointing as I expected that they’d all receive decent character development – something that I might’ve made worse by expecting something in the same vain of Tiger & Bunny which is one of my all-time favourite anime.
Visually it’s a mixed bag with the background art being leaps and bounds ahead of the CGI. The CGI looks great in action scenes but otherwise comes across as stiff and unnatural – the cyborgs aren’t using technology from the 80’s, yet sometimes it’s as if they’re being controlled by a temperamental remote. The 2D animation however I can’t fault and it seamlessly does its best to blend in with the CGI as well as looking immensely detailed and an absolute feast for the eyes – again, I found it to be most impressive within the first 20-30 minutes. The animating studio, Production I.G, has been known to create visually striking anime including Ghost in the Shell, Psycho-Pass and Guilty Crown, and so whilst they’ve proven that they’re comfortable with 2D animation, it seems they have a long way to go with CGI which was also a problem with Ghost in the Shell 2.0.
As with most releases, Cyborg is dual-audio with both Japanese and English voice-overs available. The dub has been handled by Funimation and includes many of their regular voice talent such as Erin Fitzgerald, Sean Schemmel and Jason Griffith and so it’s obvious that the dub turned out to be very good despite the relatively poor script. The OST isn’t memorable and I can’t recall a single note, not adding any flavour to the movie.
009 Re:Cyborg is sadly a heavily flawed movie that seems to plod along without really knowing what it wants to do or what it wants to be. It might be visually spectacular at time with a great voice cast but the handling of characters and the story make me feel indifferent to it – it’s not bad, but I can’t really call it good either. Considering the jump in tone it seems to take from the original works, I imagine many fans are upset with this movie too. If there’s another one, hopefully they do a much better job.