The world of the future faces its darkest enemy as the demons in the shadows come out to play.
What They Say:
In the future a massive earthquake has devastated Tokyo, leaving this barren city to suffer the ravages of the world about it. Despite phenomenon such as acid rain, the true danger lies with the actions of evil beings known as the Lucifer Hawk, creatures bent on the invasion of Earth and total eradication of the human race. Arising from the ashes are humanity’s last vestiges of hope in the form of a special police branch known as the AMP. This elite unit, dedicated to the preservation of civilization, is made up of highly trained individuals such as Yuki, the powerful psychic; the near-indestructible cyborg warrior Kiddy; the mystical Shinto priestess Nami; the ever informed visionare Lebia and their chief, the mysterious Rally Cheyenne. Prepare to embark upon a quest to save the world with the members of the AMP and their newest recruit, Katsumi Liqueur, a woman with strange powers and a dark past. The battle for Earth lies in the hands of these powerful women… but will that be enough?
With its age, the audio tracks included for this release aren’t a surprise. The original Japanese language track is a standard theatrical stereo mix encoded at 224kbps while the newly minted English language mix mirrors it. The film certainly has moments where it would benefit from a 5.1 remix to it, especially in the bass department as well as directionality, but what we get is certainly serviceable and authentic to the original experience. The dialogue placement has some good moments across the forward soundstage but by and large it’s a simple and straightforward presentation that won’t exactly overwhelm. Though it’s a theatrical film, it’s one that’s coming from a time when most theatrical movies didn’t get much more than what we get here. Thankfully, we didn’t have any troubles during regular playback of the film with dropouts or distortions.
Originally in theaters in 1991, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The film is one that is regularly quite dark and moody which is made all the more striking with the film grain that’s present here. The grain thankfully doesn’t turn into heavy fuzziness or cause any significant blocking so it provides more of a true film experience than anything else. Surprisingly, it’s rather reminiscent at times of how the TV series from 1998 ended up looking, enough so that you could shift between the two relatively easy enough. The transfer for this is generally solid throughout with only a few blips of cross coloration here and there and some occasional line noise. Though this was a striking project during its original release, it comes across as more mundane now but still is a solid production.
Bandai has gone and produced two different editions for this release, a regular keepcase edition and a limited edition in a steelcase. I rather like seeing the steelcases for shows that are considered above the average in a way and these movies are long overdue for a proper release in general. So giving this a limited edition steelcase release works nicely for people like me I’d suspect as this was an early gateway release. The steelcase edition is solid as it features the standard cast shot of the main characters all together in their uniforms with some very slick and “modern” looking designs. The background with the rust colors and mystical designs works really well in providing the contrast that lets the character artwork stand out all the more. The package has a glued on small piece of paper to the back that provides the basics of what to expect, but when you finally carefully tear that away, what you have left is a really nice piece of artwork with Katsumi in an action pose with the city behind her in the distance. The technical grid along the bottom covers the basics of what to expect – the absolute basics unfortunately. The interior of the steelcase features an expanded piece of the cityscape in full color as well as a brief full color booklet that’s essentially for the included CD. And that’s the extra disc in this case as we get the first OST as the limited edition item.
The menu design for the release is rather simplistic in nature, almost a bit amateurish, as it has what seems like a fairly stock style for the background that you’d get out of some package while the center has the logo and brief clips from the film playing throughout, all of which is set to instrumental music from the film. The navigation strip is simply and effective with the basics and submenu navigation is quick and easy. Like most Bandai releases though, it doesn’t pick up our players’ language presets and defaults to English with no subtitles as there are no sign/song subtitle options here. Chapters are also a bit awkward here as there are eight of them in total, one of which being the translated credits. While it’s only a 54 minute feature, this again comes across as a bit more of a stock kind of setting rather than something really planned out to match the actual chapter needs..
The extras are fairly meager here as we get a short promotional video and the original theatrical trailer for the film.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It’s been forever and a day since I last saw this movie, way back in the early 90’s when Streamline brought out their dubbed version of it. Back then this was one of those holy grail kind of films that appealed to many of the early fans that were getting into anime through commercially available releases in the US. It had science fiction, it had familiar themes with its heavy nods towards Blade Runner, and it was dead sexy. Tie that in to the availability around the same time as the manga – which was colorized! – and it was something that you could use as an easy gateway drug from one to the other.
Coming back into it now, probably some fifteen years after I last saw it, is certainly an interesting experience. Even more so having seen the TV series from 1998 again this year and having finished the very lengthy manga release from Viz Media some time back. Like most movies based off of manga, this one sort of takes some of the basics ideas, themes and concepts and runs with it while going in its own direction. The core of it is the same as we’re introduced to the AMP, the Attacked Mystification Police, a special group of women that are tasked with the job of hunting down Lucifer Hawks. These creatures from another dimension are making more pronounced entries into ours and through the various skill sets the women have, they’re able to really work them over.
Similar to the TV series and the manga, the main focus of this feature is to bring into play Katsumi Liqueur. Through her we experience what the AMP is all about and what threat that the Lucifer Hawks bring to the world since she’s inexperienced in all of it and doesn’t want any part of it. Where the appeal comes in is that she’s not a starry eyed teenager that’s getting whisked up into this adventure but rather a young woman who can’t believe the reality of it and struggles against it until she realizes there are strong bonds between her and the Lucifer Hawks. Katsumi’s resistance to everything isn’t a surprising plot point, as she flounders about while others fight the battle and try to understand the situation that’s changing before their eyes, but that she does become a reluctant part of the team later on is something that doesn’t change her general attitude about things. She finds herself drawn into this for purely personal reasons, and even though she does in the end fight for the greater good, that’s not her true reason for it.
Like most movies of this nature, it’s rather superficial and it coasts along on its look and atmosphere, something that at the time of the original manga and this release was very much in. Dark science fiction with the mystical elements combined with the Blade Runner look worked very well. Silent Mobius was one of the early crossover titles for western fans because, as Japanese as it was, it was also more international in its design and approach. Everything about the film was very accessible, even if you saw it before the Streamline dub and saw it raw. While it had unusual elements, it was something that you could figure out what was going on and it had a number of beautiful visuals that captivated an audience that was familiar only with Saturday morning cartoons and the last few years of Disney animated movies.
In the end, the Silent Mobius movie certainly feels weak in comparison to the TV series that ran years later which Bandai Entertainment has also released. This film is something of a hard sell to newer fans since it’s really aimed at the fans of the manga back in the day and it capitalized on that unfinished work. It’s an enjoyable film and one that’s certainly been needing a proper rescue all these years which Bandai Entertainment has done a solid job with. For those like me who “came of age” with a film like this, it’s wonderful to see it again and to see it given such a loving presentation, care and a brand new dub to go along with it. The film itself is certainly dated and almost quaint in some ways, but it’s a piece of anime history that’s lovingly preserved and treated right here.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Promotional Video, Theatrical Trailer
Limited Edition: Steelcase, Original Soundtrack 1
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.