GUNDRESS (1999)

 

Format: 85-minute feature

Rating: R (N, AL, GV)

Type: Sci-Fi (mecha)

American Release: AnimeWorks

English Dub Production:  Bang Zoom! Entertainment

Japanese Production: The Gundress Committee

 

Grading

 

Premise:

D

Story:

D+

Writing:

D

Character Design:

C-

Mecha Design:

C-

Animation:

C-

Artistic Merits:

D+

English Dub:

C

Musical Score:

C

Songs:

B

 

 

Humor Content:

n/a

Action Content:

C-

Drama Content:

C

 

 

DVD Presentation:

C

DVD Extras:

C

 

 

OVERALL:

D+ 

 

Synopsis

      The year is 2100. During the 21st century a pair of devastating earthquakes (one several decades before current time, one only a few years before) destroyed most everything else that used to be around, but the newly-built Yokohama (Bayside City in the English dub) now serves as Japan’s premier international port. It is an age where cybernetic components in human bodies are so prevalent that human/cyborg percentage ratings are kept for everyone just like their height and weight. It is also an age where government corruption and rampant anti-government terrorism have become serious problems. To combat the terrorists, young businesswoman Tokako Huroji forms Angel Arms, an all-female mercenary company that uses bulky combat suits called Land Mates. After arresting an arms dealer named Hassan, Angel Arms finds itself pressed into duty to protect Hassan against forces that want to see him dead because he knows too much - and what he knows could expose the dastardly things that those in the government are doing. Of course this mission is not without severe complications.

 

The Long View

      Masamune Shirow, the creative force behind classic anime such as Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell, is listed as “creative support” for this movie, but unfortunately that doesn’t help. Gundress clearly was trying to mold itself in the form of Bubblegum Crisis, but it borrows so heavily from those series that it comes off as tired and formulaic. Nearly everything it does has been done before, and done much better. Even the various personality quirks of the pilots – one is painfully gun-shy, another has past ties to one of the key bad guys, etc – are strictly run-of-the-mill, as is the bad guy arms merchant who may not actually be such a bad guy. (What a surprise!)

      The problems with Gundress are deep and pervasive, from writing that is painfully bad in places to action sequences that fail to excite to animation that leaves a lot to be desired. One of the chief culprits, though, is the art design. The future building designs conceived for the movie are artistically hideous; either there are some new and bold architectural standards to be feared in 2100, or the people that built them must have been loaded up on sake to help them get over the devastation of the past. Character designs, while not awful, leave much to be desired, and the mecha designs are boring. Overall, the artistry just isn’t sharp; it’s more what you would expect for lower-budget ‘80s fare. The music tries hard to uplift the project, but it is also inadequate beyond a sharp number that plays during the closing credits. English voice work is okay but, again, nothing exciting.

The short version? There isn’t any reason to actually bother watching Gundress unless you’re really, really bored. Take this review more as a warning than a recommendation.

  

DVD Extras

      The only extras are company trailers and a 29-minute “making of” featurette.

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Alissa

Jane Alen

Hasan, Kazama

Ron Allen

Endo

G. Gordon Baer

Sylvia

Janine Brown

Shiberagi, Kelvelos

Lex Lang

Ryo

David Lelyveld

Jan Ruck

James Lyon

Serem, Head

David Mallow

Spike, Mother

Dacid Orozo

Goman, Secretary

Michael McConnohie

Marica

Julie Pickering

Michelle

Ellen Wilkinson

Tokako

Karen Strassman

Kai

Zan

 

 

 

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