I would like to thank Louis Patterson for locating this material and the University of Melbourne for owning it and providing viewing facilities. Although it was probably the Melbourne Teachers College (my old school) that actually bought the material. This anime was actually on Laser-disc, a mysterious and archaic (not to mention chunky) medium.
I must also admit that I approached this anime with the very worst of intentions. In one of the regular `worst anime of all times' threads on the Usenet group rec.arts.anime.misc it got mentioned as one of the most confusing anime of all time. With such a glowing (cough) recommendation I simply had to see it for myself. And while it's not that bad it's certainly a dodgy piece of anime.
The setting is a space station around some mysterious planet. This station, suspiciously shaped like a giant metal foetus in space, being the home of an ESP research project. Although money must be really tight because there only seem to be four people on board. A female psychic, and a male doctor, researcher and mechanic (I assume). They're currently researching the fact that the female is having dreams of gruesome deaths in space (danger Will Robinson! danger!). They're interrupted from their fun by a spaceship coming out of warp that only narrowly misses the station.
Needless to say it's broadcasting an SOS signal (and I assume one of the S's stands for `suckers') and is full of dead people with one survivor. naturally they bring them all on board. At which point the survivor recovers, somewhat distraught, and mentions that a terrible alien has been killing them off one by one. And, drum-roll, he might even now be on this ship. And indeed it is so, but this alien is a little more than just a bloody killer, possibly a lot more. However with a gun in his hand, and a cute psychic babe in his arms, the survivor's not going down with out a fight.
There does exist a class of fans, with dubious intents, who actually love to find really bad anime. I can sort of understand it, the non-intentional humor when a production goes seriously wrong, the human drama of something simply so bad it's a stain on the history of all involved, it's a fairly natural human tendency. Sadly this is not nearly as bad as I had been told, although it's certainly not a good anime either.
The main problem is that it's an anime that desperately wants to have a meaning other than simply being a `horror anime set in space'. It desperately wants depth but it doesn't really seem to be able to achieve it. The results of this being that the alien likes to mess with the minds of its victims before it messily exterminates them. Likewise there's some unrequested and leaden philosophising about the nature of man, and some suggestions that the alien is actually a metaphysical force, but at the end of the day it's not worth anything.
And while it is striving for depth it forgets all sort of other little details. Like character development, dialog and story. The dramatic flow, and character actions are more than a little broken and disconnected. Including the rather casual reaction of the crew to the fact that there's a deadly alien predator on board. They don't seem particularly bothered by the fact, despite the first victim being served up fairly quickly. There's also an attempt to do the `paranoia' bit, you know the old `is there an alien amongst us' thing, but it is very poorly handled and entirely unconvincing. And the romance element is certainly no better, including an unnecessary and unconvincing super-symbolic nudie scene. Capping it off is a massively meaningless, and unsatisfying, non conclusion.
And then we get to the animation. It starts off well enough. The colors are bright but the scenes are very flat. The somewhat strange looking character designs looking as if they are stuck onto the backgrounds. In addition the technical design is a bit strange and the motion animation is pretty clunky. It has a sort of `plastic' and unpleasant feel to it. And then it gets much, much worse. The appearance of some aggressive air-brushing, which looks terrible and fails to match the animation style, giving the first warning. However this is nothing compared to the sheer terror of the animation once the alien is revealed and it tries to be `impressive' for the conclusion. To call it massively unconvincing is to be overly kind. The voices are reasonable but the dramatics flow poorly, the music is nothing of much note.
Sadly this title has no reviews from my regular sources. Of course I want them to review this title as soon as possible...I don't see why I should have to suffer alone :)