Seething Cauldron of Pop Culture Talk

Irascible Analysis of Popular Culture

Hidden Gems: Time Stranger

Alright, take the director of the Pokemon movies and have him do a sequel movie to a fighting force mecha show from the early 80’s. It sounds like a recipe for unadulterated mediocrity, yet somehow it manages to be one of the most bizarre, surreal, and personal animes ever created.

In a way, I would liken this to Watchmen, even though it came out over a year before that famous comic. Both weave tales of heroes who had their moment in the sun, but when the war was over, they faded into obscurity. They’re all older now and one has turned his one-time fame into a successful commercial enterprise. Another is the Surgeon General. They don’t really see each other anymore and they’ve all got their own, somewhat boring, lives now. But when one of their own is threatened, they band together to fight. They outcome is very different, of course, and Time Stranger’s is an internal struggle, but the similarities remain nonetheless.

Remy, the female member of the Goshogun fighting force, falls into a coma after an accident. The other members of the group come together to support her and try to get her the medical treatment that she needs. It’s an uphill battle and the doctors have little confidence in her recovery, or survival. In Remy’s mind, she and her friends a trapped in a strange desert city where the locals believe that once its your time to die you have no choice but to die. Remy and her friends all receive letter claiming that they will die very soon, but they aren’t going to go down without a fight. As Remy’s letter claims that she will die first, they all focus on trying to keep her alive past the deadline to show the locals that there’s no such thing as fate.

While Time Stranger does have several action scenes, action is not the focus. Rather it focuses on Remy’s internal struggle and how she deals with almost insurmountable odds. She realizes that her death is almost a certainty, but she never gives up.

But let’s get one thing out of the way: Time Strange is 14 years old and it looks it. The animation gets the job done, and there are some moments where a lot is done with a little, but it’s not going to blow anyone away. More than anything else, that’s the main gripe with the show. However, it should, in no way, take away from enjoyment one gets from viewing this movie.

The music is a mix of haunting and surreal, with a pure 80’s power ballad at the end. Again, nothing truly exceptional here, but it holds up better than the animation and aids in setting th proper mood.

The main draw here is the characters, or, specifically, Remy. She is one of the strongest and most unique female characters I’ve seen in an anime. She can fight when she needs to, but it’s her strong will and never-say-die attitude that make her truly standout.

Specs: Directed by Kunihiko Yuymama, Released by Ashi Productions in 1985. Released in the US by Central Park Media, still available new.

Upsides: Great story with lots of psychological depth, interesting characters, strong female lead.

Downsides: Some of the animation hasn’t aged too well, some of the impact is lost by not having seen the original series.

Verdict: This is one anime movie that’s not to be missed. 9/10

Where to Find: Just about anywhere that has a decent anime selection.


April 15, 2010 - Posted by | Anime, Hidden Gems | , , ,

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