Jul 25, 2008
Beatnik (All reviews)
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.