Tokyo, 2036 (Showa year 111): a revolution in medical treatment has conquered death...
By means of internal nanomachines and the "S.H.E.L.L." system whose network controls them, human beings suffer no diseases, require no treatment for injuries, and are guaranteed a 120-year lifespan, free from illness. Yet this consummate social system warps the Japanese nation in a host of ways: unresolved economic disparities, ethical decadence resulting from deathlessness, grave environmental pollution, and the "Human Lost" phenomenon, in which people themselves, disconnected from the S.H.E.L.L. network, become malformed. Japan teeters wildly between two potential futures: civilization's restoration or its destruction.
Atmospheric pollution suffuses "Route 16" in the Outside—the area outside the Route 16 beltway. Youzou Oba, who lives an idle, drug-saturated life, joins Masao Horiki, a mysterious man who associates with the drag-racing gangs, on an incursion Inside—the area within the Route 7 loop where the privileged class lives—only to be embroiled in a violent struggle. When he encounters a malformed sufferer of the Human Lost phenomenon, a "Lost," Youzou's life is saved by Yoshiko Hiiragi, a girl of mysterious abilities who belongs to the anti-Lost agency H.I.L.A.M., and he discovers that he himself also possesses extraordinary powers...
Degradation and death. Life and hope. Buffeted by fate, a man tears himself apart and cries out. Rage. Sorrow. Pathos. Consumed by despair and bitter tears, Youzou Oba is himself transformed into a demon. A human lost... or a human who can find himself?
TLDR: This is one to skip. It's both mindless and devoid of entertaining action - unsatisfying in every regard.
I was lucky enough to get in to the U.S. premiere at Anime Expo, but my expectations weren't nearly low enough for this. Miyano Mamoru tends to be attached to good projects, but this one felt like a mistake.
The movie makes use of the title of a very famous piece of Japanese literature by Osamu Dazai, "No Longer Human." Unfortunately, any relation this movie has to that book is all surface-level. The character names are mostly used (Youzou, Horiki, Takeichi, Hiiragi), but their personalities and motivations
don't really draw on the book at all. This in itself is not necessarily a bad thing; plenty of adaptations of written works become something entirely different on the big screen.
In this case however, the result doesn't have much merit on its own. The movie is a vague and generic story about humans succumbing to some kind of corruption that turns them into monsters, and the oppressive government and police agencies that keep society running as they see fit. The art style gets the job done but it's not a standout. It's average 3DCG animation, average character designs, and the main physical transformation that Youzou undergoes is fairly generic in appearance. Guyver-esque is how I'd describe it.
I'm not going to go into spoilers really, but the main takeaways for me were as follows:
1. The character motivations are weak/cliche (hero wants to be good, villain wants power and destruction, good girl is sweet, submissive, kind).
2. The story doesn't really go anywhere interesting, and at times it's completely nonsensical. The first two acts aren't awful, but they don't lead to a satisfying conclusion in the third. I would describe the story as both incoherent and unmemorable. It slipped off my brain an hour after I saw it.
3. The only reason they named it after Dazai's novel was for marketing. Crossover appeal to both fans of the novel and Bungou Stray Dogs was definitely the primary factor, because they didn't even try and address anything the book focused on. Youzou attempting suicide is window dressing. A throwaway gag. "He tried to do that in the book!" "He does that in the show all the time haha it's so funny." I'll admit the book is impossible to film or adapt to a movie, or at least very difficult, but they could have at least done something that tapped into one of its core acts, like drug dependency, or being unable to identify socially with other people. They didn't.
Before the movie, the interview with the producers and Miyano Mamoru confirmed that they made this one with a western audience in mind. It's why we got to see it before Japan did. While that makes me happy to hear (that they care about their fans worldwide), the final product left me wondering what kind of view they have of western viewers. If this kind of thing is what they think plays to our tastes, then I'd prefer they just keep us as a secondary or ancillary audience.
I seen the UK Premiere of this movie at Scotland Loves Anime, and it was also the first time I've seen an anime movie on the big screen and also the first time I've willingly watched any anime in the original Japanese with English subtitles.
This movie was very enjoyable, I'm not a professional reviewer by any means and it's not something I do very often but I do feel the need to recommend this movie.
The story is loosely (and I mean very loosely) based on the autobiographical novel "No Longer Human" by Osamu Dazai. The biggest change being that the movie takes place in a
cyberpunk 2036 and while I can't comment on the novel seeing as I haven't read it myself from what I've heard the movie does represent some of the main themes of the novel in its own unique way. Regardless the story is satisfying and has left me the urge to read the original source material.
The art uses a mixture of well done CGI as well as traditional 2D artwork that compliment each other very well in my opinion and even at times add some nice contrast.
The characters were likable enough and were quite well animated.
The movie is quite enjoyable and -I'd say at least- fairly unique in the way that it has adapted its source material, it's definitely worth a watch and I look forward to watching it again when it hopefully gets a dub release and its blu-ray release.