expansionist Eastern regime is dead set on war with Japan, at a time when
America’s defense capacity and influence in the UN are both at all time lows. They say it’s the near future, but it feels
only too near. Still, there may yet be
hope in Isamu Imamake’s apocalyptic anime feature The Mystical Laws, created by executive producer Ryuho Okawa
(founder of the controversial Japanese religious fusion movement, Happy
Science) which opens this Friday in New York (trailer here).
an authoritarian country not identified as China, a shadowy military science
officer named Tathagata Killer assumed power in a coup. Now known as the Godom Empire, his kingdom
becomes the dominant super-power, thanks to the remarkable technology provided
by the beautiful but mysterious industrialist Chan Leika.
world slept while the demonic dictator consolidated power, except Hermes Wings. Partly a Doctors Without Borders style NGO
and partly a secret society dedicated to preserving free democratic values,
Hermes Wings is considered the greatest threat to the Godom overlord, so he
targets them accordingly. Through tragic
circumstances, Sho Shishimaru rises to the top of Hermes Wings. There is a reason people have confidence in
him. According to prophecies, he might
be both the savior and the second coming of Buddha, which is an awful lot for
any dude to live up to.
Mystical Laws could be
described as a Buddhist Left Behind,
with generous helpings of Christian symbolism thrown in for good measure. It is also anime. In truth, just about every conception of
divinity is covered in Mystical,
including the embodiment of the “Spirit of Japan,” who looks rather
attractive. Some of the symbolism is
impossible to miss, such as the swastikas the Godom army marches under, or the
crosses on which they crucify enemies of the state. Still, if the slightly odd film represents an
attempt to proselytize, it is dashed hard to tell what for.
so subtly really isn’t Mystical’s thing. Nonetheless, the first two acts constitute a
rather intriguing end-of-the-world sci-fi conspiracy thriller. The relationship between Shishimaru and Leika
is also nicely developed and the Buddhist elements give it all a distinctive
flavor. Unfortunately, the third act is
largely given over to a Harry Potter-esque
clash of fireballs and god-rays.
have to take satisfaction from a Japanese film that bemoans the lack of
American military bases. Indeed, it
takes notions of faith, freedom, and sacrifice profoundly seriously. With art and characterization well within the
anime industry standard, perhaps even slightly higher, it might be the most effective
end-of-days religious thriller, well maybe ever (for what that’s worth). It certainly puts to shame impassioned but
clunky Evangelical films, like Jerusalem Countdown.
probably is not your Cheetos-eating fanboy’s
anime. However, anyone interested in a
film arguing religion plays an essential role in a healthy society (and also
implying a need for a strong military) might just get sucked in, in spite of
themselves. Recommended for fans of
challenging anime, aesthetically adventurous Evangelicals, and nontraditional
Buddhists (collectively a woefully underserved market), The Mystical Laws opens this Friday (11/23) in New York at the
Labels: Animated films, Anime, Apocalyptic cinema, Japanese Cinema, Religion in film