Friday, May 27, 2022


PHENOMENALITY: *marvelous*
CAMPBELLIAN FUNCTION: *metaphysical, psychological*

I reviewed the two seasons of HEAVEN'S LOST PROPERTY here, but there were also two anime movies spawned by the franchise. The first, like the series, appeared long before the manga series concluded in 2014. The second did appear about three months after the manga concluded, but did not incorporate the crucial aspects of the finale. Regardless, both are probably the most slipshod anime-movie adaptations ever to come out of Japan.

To be sure, the artwork on both looks as good as the TV show, though some fans complained that a movie ought to have looked better. The various characters-- "ordinary pervert" Tomoki and the four artificial "angeloids" with whom he gets saddled-- are on-model and the ecchi humor is about the same. CLOCKWORK certainly wins the award for the best opening, as Tomoki and his crew-- fellow high-schoolers Sohara, Sugata, and Misako, plus the Angeloids Ikaros, Nymph, and Astraea-- are confronted by a Godzilla-sized chicken. Tomoki commands one of the Angeloids to make Sohara giant-size, so that she can cream the chicken-- but the young perv also peers at Sohara's giant-sized panties, earning him a good stomping under her boot.

On the down side, CLOCKWORK recycles a lot of footage from the TV episodes, a practice I've never seen used in a Japanese anime flick. There's a loose excuse for it. The film adapts a manga-arc dealing with schoolgirl Hiyori, who falls in love with Tomoki but who herself is another Angeloid in disguise. She's been sent by the androids' malicious maker in the celestial city Synapse, but his motives don't admit to much examination. The emphasis throughout is upon the tragic fate of the lovelorn girl, counterpointing the expected slapstick with a degree of poignant drama. However, it takes a long time to get to the big dramatic finish. In contrast to most of the short stories adapted to the episodic TV show, this is a full arc, with a combative conclusion as the compassionate Angeloids assault Synapse to save Hiyori.

ETERNAL, as I said, appeared after the manga's finish, but I suspect that the script was prepared at an earlier point. It begins with a fragmentary sequence taken from an arc that was probably incomplete in late 2013-- said sequence being Tomoki ordering Ikaros to fly him to Synapse as part of an ongoing attack. But since the manga-author most probably had not completed the arc at the time of the script, the writers worked around the situation by making the attack-sequence a frame-story to earlier events.

Of the shorter stories that appear within the frame, at least one of them is among the best tales from the original manga, and so I'm not totally irked at this peculiar narrative avenue. I think that the writers of ETERNAL may have guessed that there might be no further animated adaptations of PROPERTY, and so they wanted to spotlight the nascent (but never culminated) romantic arc between Tomoki and his primary Angeloid Ikaros. The manga-author showed some psychological acuity in exploring the peculiar "master-slave" relationship between Tomoki and Ikaros-- all the more peculiar because the "master" doesn't want the relationship, and the "slave" does. However, at base this is an agglomeration of short tales and a frame-story without a satisfying conclusion, even one in a subcombative mode (which is the default here). This choice on the part of the writers must have been frustrating even to readers familiar with the whole manga saga. I can't even imagine a newbie viewer trying to make sense of either movie without having assimilated something from either the manga or the TV series. Both films provide a very disjointed conclusion to this quixotic series.

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