Goku: Midnight Eye
I've seen part 1 of this series (2 part as far as I know) several times over the years. I'm pretty sure I've even seen it screened on late night TV. So I always assumed I'd done a review on the rare occasions I ran into a copy. Good thing I found an aging video store, rich in antiquities, about the same time I realized my mistake.
It doesn't take long for this series to let us get a pretty good feeling for Goku's character. He learnt his skills, both investigation and combat, as part of the police special investigations team. However his attitude, and his determination to make the bad guys pay, was what got him kicked out of the force. He's just too skilled and tough to play by the rules the police have to work under. So now he's a private eye, doing some good while making bigger bucks than he ever would have seen in the force.
Mind you when his old team-mates, on the trail of a dealer in exotic weapons, start getting bumped off one by one he can't stand by and watch. However it really seems that even his skills aren't going to be enough. The bad guy holds all the cards and the cops can't even protect themselves, let alone get the evidence to bust him. Mind you Goku isn't so concerned about evidence, he just wants some revenge, and with an unknown benefactor giving him some ultra-tech toys it looks like it's time to start turning the tables.
The first thing that must be said is that the changing tides of fashion have not been very kind to Goku. At one time close cropped black hair, jacket open to the waist with a thin black tie and black wristbands might have looked really bad ass. Now it just looks sort of peachy and gives him the raw machismo of your average 80's pop-star... ie. not much at all. Some of the script doesn't help either, a little bit corny and shallow and some rather unsuccessful jokes at just the wrong time.
If you can ignore that Goku's actually pretty fun to watch. He's not really much for tactics or planning, preferring to seek the source of the problem and take it out, but he's pretty good at thinking on his feet. He's also fairly agile when he needs to be leading to some rather decent movement sequences. The other nice thing is the show gives him lots of justification for his actions so while he's on the offensive there's little doubt that his enemies deserve everything coming to them. The fact that the action is supported by the story helps to make up for the fairly simplistic plot.
The action is also juiced up with some high tech... and a rather active imagination on whoever did the character designs. Goku, at his lowest point in the story, is given two items to help him turn things around. One of them combines weaponry and movement in a rather interesting package, the other helps to make up for his lack of ability to plan tactically. They're a little bit corny, they make him a little bit too powerful really, but at the same time they add to the variety of the various encounters.
And then there's the character designs, which are certainly part of what sticks in the mind. Apparently the bad guy, who's into high tech weaponry, does a side-line in robotic assassins. However I can pretty much assure you that no other anime has managed to combine high tech weaponry, sexual suggestiveness and sheer bizarre design into one package the way this does. They're actually a bit too over the top to fit neatly into the story, damaging the immersion somewhat, but they certainly are memorable. They're also more suggestive than explicit, since their role in the actual title is as weapons. The tape I watched, even with some swearing, suggestive dialog and naked female assassin-bots didn't even make it to an R (18+) rating.
So it's weird, but is it worth watching? The answer is a cautious yes. The shows no work of genius but it's relatively simple plot, juiced up with some high tech weirdness has aged reasonably well. Goku's character still works (certainly better than his wardrobe) and the action pieces have some imagination to make up for the dating of the production quality. If nothing else it's relatively short run-time helps avoid it overstaying its welcome. And even though it's only part 1 (I've never seen part.2 on any video store shelf) it does come to a fitting conclusion.
It's an anime in an older animation style, deep shadows and detailed faces which puts limits on how much motion they can show. However this tape actually overcomes those limits and moves quite well, along with occasional physical showpiece. The design is interesting, the action uses the environment well and even Goku's silly toys are integrated well into the story (although if he actually used them to their full extent he could end the story immediately). The largest weakness is probably the overly simplistic script which I get the feeling is not helped by the translation, voice acting or being sprinkled with some obscenities to try and make it look more adult than it is. Music is fairly subdued, but considering how bad a lot of sound from that period was I'm not complaining.
A fairly dated action piece starring the roguish but capable Goku, complete with high tech toys, against an evil villain, complete with his high tech toys... which are a lot more sexy than Goku's. It's pretty simple in terms of plot but some imagination used in design and the physical sequences mean it's actually surprisingly watchable, barring the occasional groan from the script and acting.