Anime Meta-Review


Demon of Steel


By Date




Title Info

  • type: movie
  • grade: flawed
  • genre: mecha
  • made: unknown
  • Review created: Tue Jan 16 15:40:26 EST 2001
  • mod: none

This movie gave me a really strong feeling...I don't want to be too explicit and spoil the review. But, imagine a Japanese figure in a lab-coat yelling at the camera, "You fool, messing with <X> will surely summon <Y> and we'll all die!!". Yep, really strong godzilla / B-movie flavor to this one.

It starts off in a familiar sort of way. Mankind has got it's collective act together enough to build a high energy physics lab. And, barring the collective howls from anyone who'd want to work on it, have built it on a featureless island in the middle of some ocean. This lab procedes to discover a new sub-atomic energy source which, being humans, we turn into an energy beam weapon and mount on a satellite. We also test it on a spare aircraft carrier. And while the weapon is more successful it also causes a strange black vortex to occur, from which emerges a huge and strange statue. An on-site mini-submarine crew, against their own wishes for self preservation, are ordered to grab a sample.

We then cut forward several years. One of the two on the mini-submarine has received a strange message from the other. The one who receives the message had left the military soon after the event, disgusted at the cavalier attitude of the commander, leaving his friends behind. The message, once its contents are revealed, raises suspicions that not all is well. And indeed there is a rich soup of tension, conspiracy, and suggestions people are messing around with things better not messed around with. Will our lead be able to work out what is going on, and a solution, before everyone dies at the hands of some guy in a rubber suit (or the anime equivalent).

And, to be honest, it's not too bad. It's definitely formula but there is a allure to this formula. The mystery of what's going on, who's hiding what, the conflict between personalities obscuring the truth. It's all good stuff and done with enough skill to keep you interested. However, at the end of the day, it's all for naught. So, let me give a spoiler warning (sorry, unavoidable) and give it all away. After a little while the writer gets tired of the subtlety and complexity required to manage this environment and gives up. We then proceed, with undue haste, to the giant alien bio-organic mecha slugging it out. This requires some astounding plot holes, lots of needless explosions and deaths to work. In any case the transition is handled really badly and the human elements are thrown, in quite a cruel manner, out the window.

And the mecha themselves are downright embarassing. They actually manage to look like guys in silly suits despite this being completely irrelevant in an anime setting. I still don't know how they managed it. The designs themselves are massively complex but visually confusing, the action consists of lumbering charges while the pilot screams. It's all, very, very, silly. And since by this time the island is little more than a crater there's no scenery or screaming civilians actually making it more dull than a godzilla fight. It really does make you wonder why you bothered with the first part, if ultimately it was just going to be a mega wrestling match.

And the animation is not even nearly sufficient to handle the inordinately complex mecha designs. Leading to it looking quite static and confusing. Indeed, for the whole production, the animation production is dated and average at best. It looks okay in close up, but there's a lot of sketchy stuff around the edges and background. The colors are subdued and muddy, often nearly monochromatic in wide shots. The technical detail, and animation of complex scenes or movement, is unlikely to impress. The voices were okay and the music was negligible.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:17 WST 2009