© 1985 Tokuma Shoten / Ashi Productions
GoShogun: The Time Etranger
You know what I really like about GoShogun: The Time Etranger? It's not the entertaining blend of mystery, drama and action. It's not the engaging and personable characters. It's not even the inherent charm of watching a classic 80's anime. What really strikes me about The Time Etranger, is it's a perfect example of how to make a movie based on a series, yet remain enjoyable without requiring any knowledge of the series. Brief background plot details are given in a short worded narrative at the beginning. Characters are introduced in a manner that explains their respective roles and relationships. It's nice to see such a movie pull this off so well, and I commend The Time Etranger for it. That's not to say The Time Etranger lacks other redeeming qualities. Far from it, in fact.
Forty years ago the six GoShogun team members defeated the Docooga criminal organization to save Earth. Flashforward to present day, and Remy Shibata is on her way to a rendezvous with two of her old teammates, Killy and Shingo. Late, she decides to take a shortcut, leading her into the middle of a high-speed chase between police and a gang of bank robbers. Remy takes matters into her own hands and runs the fugitives off the road. The act costs her, for shortly after she has an accident, which lands her in critical condition at the hospital.
While Remy fights for her life in the present, a flashback takes us to two other critical events in Remy's life. When she was ten, she fell into a deep pit with no way out. A foreboding voice tells her to give up; that she can't expect any more out of life. Trapped and without sign of rescue, Remy starts accepting the voice's despairing words.
The other event takes place in a nameless city in the middle of a desert, where we catch up with Remy and the rest of the GoShogun crew. On the surface the city seems to be filled with simple peasants. Worship centers around a tower erected at the heart of the city, with daily prayers to this sacred monument. Under the surface the city teams with evil. Each member of the team receives a "baptism of blood": a decree that they only have a few days to live. Remy is given the shortest time, only two days before a terrible death awaits her. The GoShogun team is not one to give in to such a grisly fate, much to the displeasure of the locals. Even the city itself seems against the six travellers, and they won't have any easy time forsaking their fake.
GoShogun: The Time Etranger does a good job of mixing three time periods and distinct circumstances. Pacing is deliberate, building plenty of tension and suspense interspersed with occasional action. Transitions between periods are equally sound, with events flowing in a logical manner.
This movie is very character-oriented, but almost refreshingly so. One gets a good sense of the comradery of the GoShogun team. Characters support each other in a disciplined fashion, and act more rational and intelligent than one might expect for a movie like this. Even with death decrees hanging over their heads, they remain stubbornly optimistic. Much of the movie is spent focused on Remy, and she proves to be a tough and resilient heroine (her reaction to a bathtub of blood is a smirk accompanied by a sarcastic, "Nice."). Her companions are given less screen time, but we do learn a little about them. From the quiet, yet deadly Bundle to the wild man Killy, the characters add flavor to an already entertaining plot.
For an anime produced in 1985, GoShogun: The Time Etranger sports eye-pleasing artwork and decent animation. The dusty desert town, in which most of the movie takes place, is particularly well rendered. There are a few minor gaffs here and there (in an early scene Remy's car has its hood blown off, only to reappear in the next frame), but nothing critical.
GoShogun: The Time Etranger blends several genres into an enjoyable package. With more suspense than your average thriller, enough combat to satisfy most action fans, and interesting, well-rounded characters, The Time Etranger is worth a look.
The Verdict: * * * 1/2 (above average)
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