Deep in the Ararat Mountains of Turkey, a secret organization known as ARCAM has found what is believed to be Noah's Ark. However, the U.S. Machine Corps., a rogue organization of the Pentagon, wants to take over the Ark as a means of global supremacy. Only a special ARCAM operative known as a Spriggan stands in their way. Japanese Spriggan Yu Ominae teams up with French Spriggan Jean-Jacques Mondo to combat members of the U.S. Machine Corps. led by Col. MacDougall—a genetically-enhanced boy with deadly psionic powers. However, they must act fast and stop MacDougall before he uses the Ark for his own agenda.
Spriggan's got a relatively interesting premise behind it, but doesn’t do anything interesting with it.
Don’t let that put you off though, there's still some fun to be had in the form of cool 90's action!
This is the first, and currently only time I've seen Turkey depicted in anime. The crew did an ok job capturing its diverse nature; that of being stuck between Europe and Asia. We see metropolitan Istanbul briefly, and far eastern parts like Diyarbakir in the anime and it looks good.
Well actually, the animation in Spriggan is more than good; its impressive considering it was made in 1998. As
expected of Studio 4C. Facial reactions and action scenes are detailed and you find yourself scanning the whole screen to take it all in.
For a moment I thought this anime would be totally realistic but that notion goes out the window with a chase scene in Istanbul which made me grin like an idiot. I swear the main character's modelled after Jackie Chan. He moves around like a hyperactive monkey, doing back-flips and swinging on cables, its fluid and very dynamic watching him beat people up mercilessly.
Unfortunately that is all the character has going for him. Why did he have to be a 17 year old school kid anyway? Why not just a regular guy in his 20's or 30's? The anime doesn’t delve into his dual lifestyle, that of being a school kid one day and ARCAM operative the next, and his extremely brief flashback-assisted back-story is almost like an afterthought. All it does is explain his origin, not shed light on anything in his personality, because he doesn’t have one to begin with! He's a walking cliché.
So in the end I just see the character as a cynical attempt at appeasing teens. "Hey check this out! Wouldn’t it be cool if a kid just like you was a kick-ass mercenary!?" Not really. Unless he's getting the shit kicked out of him by a girl called Chidori Kaname, I'm not interested. At least Full Metal Panic gave us a compelling back-story to make the entire story have weight. The action scenes in Spriggan may be unrealistic, but they could have retained some sense of coherency with the narrative, it feels very lazy and my Suspend-Disbelief-O-Meter just wasn’t compatible this time.
I can enjoy an over the top action-fest as much as the next Read or Die fan, but here it’s not fun and it’s not dramatic, and when it finally builds to an ever-increasingly illogical Akira-esque climax with a psychic super powered deformed kid and apocalyptic style crap blowing up, I'm losing even more respect for it to be even contemplating Katsuhiro Otomo’s masterpiece, let alone riffing off of it.
Spriggan feels both old-school with its late 90's violence; the kind where people and objects are eviscerated with unabashed glee that would make the guys who worked on Ninja Scroll hyperventilate in joy, but the anime also feels ahead of its time because of that attention to detail and unconventional setting. You get the sense that if only the story were much much better, as in: if Studio 4C took a different approach at adapting the manga or just took an entirely different one to adapt in the first place, it would have been nestled comfortably in a list of Top Anime Movies Of The 90's; next to stuff like Production I.G's Ghost in the Shell which came out a few years earlier.
The story isn’t even worth mentioning; it’s just a bunch of plot points ticked off one by one. Guy has to go from A to B; objects have to get from Y to Z. Spriggan has to go from 'plan-to-watch' to 'completed' with a score that means it barely entertained me for the running time and I'll probably never watch it again. An interesting if disappointing look at Studio 4C's earlier efforts. They've come a long way indeed.
A secret government rogue agency sends out two of its best agents, called Spriggans, to thwart an evil organization's plot to acquire Noah's Ark and all the secrets contained therein.
Sounds like the plot for a spy action adventure movie? Correct.
* Hero. Cool, young, Japanese Spriggan Yu Ominae (who actually looks Japanese) with amazing physical martial arts skills and ability to take damage? CHECK
* Sidekick. Cool, sexy French Spriggan Jean-Jacques Mondo who has insane skill with guns? CHECK
* Three to four evil villians, all with special kick ass powers? CHECK
* Plot that takes you all over the world for variety? CHECK
* Spectacular action scenes with
blowing up vehicles, hand to hand fights, hand to gun fights, gun to gun fights, artillery fights, flying vehicles, land vehicles, vehicles in desert, vehicles in jungle, vehicles in snow? CHECK
* Extremely well choreographed action scenes with kick ass sound and animation? CHECK!
* Plot that starts getting religiously and philosophical towards the last one third to try to make the movie seem more "deep" than just a regular action packed flick? CHECK!
* Somehow the fate of the world rests in the hands of our hero spy, because the bad guys would really mess stuff up? CHECK!
This is a great action flick if you like these sorts of movies. Because it is animated there is a lot more licence to make the action even better, in live action I bet insurance wouldn't have covered this! The characters are sort of one dimensional but there's so much eye candy and other stuff to see one can't help but be entertained. An action movie of this calibre is like taking all the best scenes of Black Lagoon and compressing it into 90 minutes of adrenaline. Great fun and you'd enjoy this if you like a combination of James Bond, Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones.
There is a certain balance when it comes to putting effort into animating fluid motion, free flowing movement within each frames and putting effort into writing a complex narrative that sucks you in until the end of the journey. Spriggan; a 1998 anime film adapted from a manga with the original English title "Strikers". The name Spriggan was derived from a Cornish mythological creature but no correlation into the film however. The work was ambitious in its animation production quality but sacrifice its time constraints of writing a story that would be decent at best if it were to be memorable. Spriggan, as a film,
was absolutely atrocious. The film itself can be boiled down into something out of a 90s Hollywood blockbuster action thriller with no substance other than the impressiveness of the beautiful looking animation/artwork. Spriggan was directed, screen-played, and story-boarded by Kawasagi Hirotsugu, whose track record being that he directed the second Naruto movie and an obscure supernatural anime called Onigamiden.
Spriggan's core plot revolves around the mysterious prophecy of a lost civilization and fast forward to the present day, an organization called ARCAM are assigned to stop the prophecy from happening. Our protagonist, Yu Ominae, is Japan's number 1 elite super soldier who is basically indestructible like a German cockroach. Judging from the traits of said bland "badass" protagonist who can do anything, there is no depth regarding his personalty other than a plot device to move the narrative forward. He can be also described as a character projection for the audience as a cheap attempt to be immersive. The side characters are no better as well; they serve as exposition walkie talkies to explain the plot for the dumbfounded audience who don't pay attention to the screen. The so called villains are merely nuisances to obstruct the protagonist to pad the run-time. Regarding the plot, there isn't much happening until the climax of the film. Albeit, the action sequences, though are exciting to look at, there are plot conveniences (Yu being overpowered) and plot holes/logical inconsistencies (who was driving the jeep while Yu was in the turret?) that are distracting enough to ruin the immersion. The dialogue exchanges is half ass and not engaging. Most spurt out the most uninspired lines what can be heard from other action films, TV and so forth. Yu's one-liners can come off as cringe in today's standards but the film was from 1998 so it could let itself slide if the dialogue wasn't low quality.
These are the contrivances that dropped the quality of the film rock bottom. Albeit, the writing wasn't top tier, what it excels was its use of animation. When the production shows effort, it really shows. The best use of the animation or sakuga are found in fight sequences; the sense of fluidity, exciting and fast fight choreography that is jaw dropping to look at. The art is also impressive; immaculate details in the background and locations that resemble so much like real life counterparts such as Japan and Turkey, two major settings that took place in the film. The weapons are also drawn with immaculate detail as well. The best example of fluidity in motion is the chase sequence in Turkey; ambitious in its shot composition and choreography. It is actually the best thing about the film, that the chase sequence was so exciting, filled with heart pumping adrenaline. The only praise of the movie that is worth mentioning; if not, skip the movie and just watch the chase sequence alone.
Spriggan was a prime example of sacrificing the quality of the writing and characters for the sake of making the movie looking pretty as possible. In other words, it was style over substance. Spriggan failed as a feature length film, several instances where things don't happen does happen such as explaining the whole plot pads the run-time. If the opposite were to occur, this film would've done something differently in terms of quality, it would stand itself as competent film among the greats such as Ghost in the Shell. In retrospect, the film was a dumb fun action thriller done in anime. Spiggan doesn't offer any merit other than its impressive sakuga to hold up to any other superior media. It's an anime film with pretty colors (this can be compared to the Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works in terms of style over substance). Skip this movie for the chase sequence.
An organization codenamed ARCAM has a mission to retrieve ancient artifacts and keep them secret. One of their teams discover the Ark of Noah spoken of in the Old Testament. Another organization wants it, and they're leaving a path of destruction in their pursuit of it. The Ark has the power to completely change the world. One of ARCAM's top agents in an elite group called Spriggan named Yu Ominae is pulled into the confrontation. Yu journey's to the heart of the conflict. -summary
Spriggan is another anime title that condenses its story to fit into 90 mins., when in truth, it would have been
a much better outing in an OVA or even a TV series format. Well, no sense on crying over slashed stories. Spriggan is an action first, deal with characters and story later type of deal. The action and production values are so well done I know plenty of people whom forgot about the story altogether.
The production values are the main selling point. The artwork has many moments of beauty from snow laden mountain tops, to dark and dreary caves. There's a great amount of detail in the backgrounds, and although the character designs feel reminiscent of Akira, there are moments of creativity. The locations and set pieces are simply eye candy, and there's never a dull moment. The animation which does use a small amount of CG turns in some heavily appealing action segments; the viewer will be treated to bodies being ate up by gun fire, and very well choreographed action assisted by splendid camera work. The action fan will find quite a bit here to keep them occupied. I also like the mature feel of the anime, as it has this level of darkness to it which frees it completely from that "light up the mood" feel. In regards to the voice acting, it's been awhile since I saw the sub so I can't recall anything from it. However, the English dub had a competent cast, Chris Patton playing Yu was just as good as normally, while Kevin Corn as Colonel McDougall hammed it up with an annoying child-like high pitch voice, that hasn't gotten any less annoying over the years.
Spriggan maintains a very consistent tone on the serious side, and it definitely needed to sustain that feel because it does handle some dark material. The story takes a stab at a different variation of the Great Flood, and some of the things will probably get under the skin of the religious; but in the end it all comes off as window-dressing, because the entire story for the most part plays second to the action.
The plot follows Yu and another Spriggan operative by the name of Jean-Jacques Mondo, as they battle against heavily armed and powerful cyborg warriors. The plot is heavily action-saturated with small pieces of story here and there. It would probably be insulting to even say character development is brushed upon, since Mondo is only there to fulfill a role, and outside of how he fights you learn nothing about him. Yu's background is crammed in towards the end, but he becomes a pretty cool character early on, so he's easy to get into. The lead villain by the name of Colonel McDougall for the most part was that bad guy with serious delusions of grandeur. He wants the Ark to use its power and begin a second Great Flood.
Spriggan really could have been better. If only the writers chose to flesh out the character and story, plus take full advantage of its heavy themes. Instead, they wanted to focus on high production values. The only reason I don't completely have a problem with this is because it did very well on what it set out for. I will mention that it has a couple of deus ex machina moments that had me wondering could they have thought of something better.
I found Spriggan to be a mildly enjoyable action-fest. It doesn't suffer from tonal shifts, and it sticks to its guns. If you're searching for that little popcorn flick and you want to leave your brain at the door. Then this is that anime for you. If I had to liken it to other anime titles; it would probably be similar to Afro Samurai or Ninja Scroll.
Highs: Production values, nice action segments
Lows: All it appears to care about is looking pretty