The Mystical Laws

Posted by DiGiKerot in One shots at November 25, 2012 on 7:06 pm

The Mystical Laws is an anime movie which is currently playing in London, three times a day for one week only. Just let that sink in for a minute – how many anime movies actually have what can be constituted as being a theatrical run, even if it’s just a week in a single cinema, in Blighty these days? Most anime movies are lucky to get a single screening at events like Scotland Loves Anime in more recent times, and even the days of the likes of Pokemon opening theatrically are long gone. That says something about this movie.

That said, it is running in one of the most ghetto cinemas I’ve had the pleasure of attending, despite being part of a well known chain. It was a small screen with no allocated seating, the air conditioning was clearly audible when the movies score wasn’t blasting on all channels, and the lavatories were actually situated just to the left of the screen – had I not been sat in the front row, I’d have had to suffer having an illuminated “Gents” sign in my peripheral vision for the movies two hour running time. This probably also says something about the movie in question.

At first blush, it’s a pretty straightforward film – in the year 202X, The Godom empire has spread out of Asia and has begun, through superior technology, taking over the world, lead by a mysterious former military man-come-genius scientist with the not-at-all-ominous name Tatha Gata Killer, who never appears without a mask, sports a nifty electric-whip, and can force-choke as well as the finest of Sith lords.

Godom are slowly (well, actually, not-so-slowly) making their way into Japan, where the organization Earth Doctors, and our newbie protagonist Sho Shishimaru, are being allowed limited access to tend to the sick and injured populous. The Earth Doctors are led by a man known as The General, who is also the leader of Hermes Wing, a not-so-secret secret organization who are actually quietly opposed to The Godom Empire. He’s also looking for a mystical artifact of some sort hidden underneath Lake Titicaca.

Upon completing their conquest of Japan, stripping the country of all religious artifacts as well as the countries identity (they weren’t even gracious enough to give the country a snappy name like “Area 11” – Japans new moniker was so unwieldy I couldn’t even catch it to forget!), Godom decides to fly to New York and kill The General, making use of some neat-o Ghost In The Shell style optical camouflage.

This, however, is where the movie starts getting weird. They succeed in murdering the general, but only after he’d named Sho (whom he’d only met once before) as his successor. Sho also had seen a vision of The General being murdered well ahead of time, among other curious visions. Also, the Godom Empire has developed a super weapon (which they refer throughout the movie only as The Ultimate Super Weapon, because their leader has yet to name it) which throws fireballs hotter than the Sun at pin-pointed targets. Also, the head of weapon development in Godom, the beautiful Leika Chan, is an alien, and Sho is the reincarnation of Buddha. Or maybe Jesus. Or maybe Buddha and Jesus and The God Of The Earth. Certainly, he get’s crucified at one point, but there are also monks. Also, there’s angels, devils, the spirit of Japan, Orochi, ghost samurai, animated skeletons and… well, there’s a lot of very, very strange things.

Which is to say that a lot of this movie is hilarious for the wrong reasons. It’s extremely serious and stone-faced about everything that transpires, but that didn’t stop me from completely losing it when the movie introduced it’s third distinct set of aliens (unlike the other two, boring, humanoid-types, these ones where SPACE DINOSAURS!), or at the climatic battle between the terrible CG skeletons and the equally terrible CG ghost samurai.

Calling the movie hilariously bad is, perhaps, giving it a little too much credit, however. Whilst the movie has bursts of spontaneous insanity, much of the movie is spent espousing using it’s particular ideologies, which might have been amusing in itself if it wasn’t so earnest and self-serious about everything. The imagery during these scenes may be amusing if you’re drunk and have a group of friends to sound-off against, but I only had a bucket of popcorn and a Pepsi Max to keep me company.

This isn’t to say that there’s not a certain amount of entertainment to be drawn from the movie – I don’t particularly regret seeing it or anything, and it’s not even the worst anime movie I’ve seen this year (at risk of incurring the wraith of some people I know in UK fandom, I certainly enjoyed it more than Children who Chase Lost Voices). If nothing else, it’s probably going to provide the likes of Daryl Surat and Mike Toole plentiful convention panel content for the next couple of years.

Particularly because, unlike many of the other screenings of this movie that have taken place worldwide, the London run is dubbed, and oh-boy, is the dub spectacular. By which I mean the English adaptation of the script is incredibly hamfisted, whilst being delivered in gloriously stilted, staccato monotone by a cast of who may-or-may-not be native English speakers, but certainly don’t come across as being gifted thespians. I really can’t think of a comparable dub I’ve heard in recent times. It’s that remarkable in it’s crumminess.

In terms of other production aspects, some of music is actually pretty decent, if formulaic. The animation production is all over the place, though – there’s some genuinely spectacular set pieces, but there’s also the aforementioned terrible CG and even a few sequences where basic animation errors like painting outside the lines are clearly on display.

The thing I should probably mention about this movie, but will allow you to draw your own conclusions about, is that it was written by Ryuho Okawa, the leader of Happy Science, who also produced the movie.

In conclusion, it still makes more sense than NeraGaku.

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