Project to mark Yokohama City's 150th anniversary.
On Planet Abel, humans and robots co-exist. One day a mysterious stowaway on a transport vessel tries to invade the planet, but is discovered by Apollo (Hayato Ichihara), a robot that looks like a human; and Mikaru (Aya Ueto), a human that looks like a robot. The stowaway had in his possession a memory chip containing the latest in camouflage software, the mysterious "Cipher" OS. Apollo takes the Cipher chip simply for fun, but has no idea what he's getting himself into. He suddenly starts acting strange, but Mikaru has no idea what's wrong or that Cipher is behind it. What exactly is Cipher? What sort of secrets does it hold? Apollo and Mikaru will unravel a mystery encompassing the past, present, and future to find out.
This is director Ryuhei Kitamura's second foray into animation, and it's not a bad one. Kitamura's more well known for action and horror titles like Azumi, Aragami, and VERSUS (all of which you need to watch right now. I'm not kidding. Open up another tab and order/procure a copy of all of these movies while you're reading this review, and thank me later), as well as the noirish yakuza short Heat After Dark-- which you desperately need to watch if you're a fan of indie films. He also directed the motion capture fight scenes in the Metal Gear Solid remake for Gamecube. His work on
this OVA is similar, in a way, as the live actors are rotoscoped--essentially painted over in post processing. You've seen the technique used in a films like Ralph Bakshi's American Pop, and A Scanner Darkly. Some of the designs are simple, but others, like an adorable armored space suit shaped like with a big over-sized head, really, look nice in the bubble gum pastel palate.
Kitamura's style places emphasis on slick, fast-paced and clever fight scenes, and you can tell that the plot is mainly gloss to slide the characters to the next fight scene. They're full of energy, and rather inventive, taking advantage of the medium to do things wire-fu can't. If you can get past the initial weirdness of the animation style, you're in for a good time.
A cyborg fight in a space port, and an aerial wrestling match are icing on a pretty thin storyline, but this... biscotti of an OVA tastes good just the same.
There are themes of rebirth, androids, rogue AI, and inverted memories, and some funny dialog to keep the lulls between fight scenes from dragging on too much. The episodes are pretty short, too, so it's not too much of an investment. The initial details about the world are pretty sparse, but it quickly thrusts you into a tale of synthetic lifeforms and interplanetary war in the far future.
Overall, it's a good way to spend an hour or so, if you want to see people getting punched. (you know you do)