Friday, May 29, 2009

DVD: Strait-Jacket

Manga Entertainment

Directed by Shinji Ushiro
Written by Ichirö Sakaki (novel)
Starring Steven Blum (English), Lara Jill Miller (English), Bridget Hoffman (English), Shinichiro Miki (Japanese), Kei Shindou (Japanese), Ai Maeda (Japanese), Crispin Freeman (English), Akira Sasanuma (Japanese)

Originally a three-episode series 'Strait Jacket' revolves around a society that has incorporated the use of magic into everyday life. The side-effect for those with the ability to use magic is that, through over-use, they turn from humans to demons, killing indiscriminantly. An agency to control the use of magic, and an elite force of "scorcerists", work to battle and destroy demons, while a terrorist group stages attacks by creating them.

The story had a lot of potential, but ends up being rather tiresome. Although only 85 minutes long the story doesn't move along at a rate you would expect something that short to have. For at least the first 40 minutes or so nothing much happens. A demon appears, main subject and rogue scorcerist Leiot (not Rayotte) Steinberg dispatches it in an unorthodox way, stepping on the toes of the legal scorcerists in the process, throws a couple of one-liners at lead female character Nerin Simmons, and disappears into the night with largely unexplained sidekick Kapelteta Fernandez. This happens three or four times before any advancement in the story is made.

And when the plot twists come they are contrived and feel very predictable. Without wishing to spoil the story for wouldbe viewers, there's a corrupt official, a guy wronged as a child who goes a little off the rails when he finds out the truth and a shady side to Steinberg's past etc. etc.

It is also somewhat disappointing that, after all these years of dubbing manga for the Western market, the English side of the studios are getting no better at English dubbing. Or scripts - in particular here the Nerin Simmons script, voiced by Bridget Hoffman, is awful. Alex Von David, previously responsible for English scripts on 'Mars Daybreak', 'Lucky Star' and 'Rozen Maiden', is to blame, although his scripting for other characters, particularly Leiot Steinberg (Steven Blum), is excellent.

There was potential here, and while not revolutionary, the animation was strong enough not to let it down. Unfortunately the under-developed story and contrived characters don't give it much chance at all.

“ ends up being rather tiresome ”

Release Date: November 25, 2007 (Japan)
DVD Release Date: October 27, 2008
Studio: Feel Anime Studios
Feature Running Time: 80 mins
Certificate: 15
Language(s): English / Japanese
Subtitles: English
Other Format(s): None