loups

Loups=Garous (Cert 15)

1 Disc DVD/BD Combo Pack (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 99 minutes approx.

In a futuristic world a disease has wiped out much of humanity, leaving an organisation called the SVC to rule with a totalitarian hand. People live under constant camera surveillance both inside and outside the home, eat synthetic foods and physical contact between young people is almost obsolete except for their weekly trips to the Community Centre (what we call schools).

Makino Hazuki, a timorous young girl with a “communication disorder” is teamed up with three other students – hyperactive computer genius Mio Tsuzuki, androgynous and taciturn Ayumi Kono and ditzy Yuko Yabe. One night Yuko goes missing and is feared to be the latest victim of a string of recent murders of young schoolgirls. Headed by Mio the others decide to take matters into their own hands to get answers about Yuko’s disappearance, only to uncover something far more sinister.

Based on the novel by Natsuhiko Kyogoku this sci-fi-horror film sees Anime giants Production IG team up with Blood + director Junichi Fujisaku, which promises a cross between Orwell’s seminal 1984 and any werewolf yarn you care to mention – except it is conspicuously light on lycanthropes.

Instead the horror is shifted onto the notion of no “real life” communication between the young and the permanent monitoring under which our four heroines are forced to live, but sadly it is something that remains largely underdeveloped, much like the titular connection to wolves of any kind aside from a few supposed metaphorical references.

The film opens with Yuko being chased along the empty night streets by two masked psychos wielding metal bars intent on caving her head in with them. As we later learn Ayumi was watching but did sweet FA to help. Instead a martial arts specialist named Rei Myao intervenes at the last moments sending the attackers on their way. Rei is actually an old friend of Mio’s, meeting up as she and Makino defy the lockdown orders to find Yuko. The truth behind Yuko’s attack is naturally disturbing but unfortunately doesn’t take a lick of sense even when the big reveal comes at the end.

In this middle of this Mio has decides that the group project that originally brought the girls together should be a dance routine based on “old girl group” from the past. That group happens to be Japan’s current top girl rockers SCANDAL who contribute three songs to the soundtrack so at least the music is good! The girls also appear (in animated form) for the music video Mio wants to copy and even provide vocal cameos too.

And if that wasn’t enough, Mio wears a school uniform similar to the ones the band wore in their early days and their mascot Canta gets to play a significant (if utterly implausible) part in the story too! Anyone unfamiliar with SCANDAL can meet the band in 15 minute featurette to be found in the Extras. You can thank me later!

Back to the film and with a premise that has a lot of scope we are left with something that is ultimately disappointing, disjointed and sadly quite dull, most notably the middle act which is mostly chat and largely inconsequential nonsense at that. It doesn’t help that the cast aren’t particularly engaging or likeable, a huge handicap for any story.

Makino has to be a front runner for “Most Useless Anime Protagonist In History” since she can’t even seem to breathe without help from someone and everything comes as a huge shock to her. While she remains ineffective deadweight, Mio is her diametric opposite – full of energy, scared of nothing and never shuts up! Ayumi – (who looks TOO much like a boy to be believed as being a girl – is another blank slate so detached from everyone and everything you get nothing from her (him?). Rei is arguably the most exciting character due to her fearless arse kicking but again, she is lacking any kind of personality or history for the audience get behind her.

Production IG have never yet delivered a product, be it film or TV show that looks anything less than great, but this film is no exception – aside from the character designs that is. It is as if the cast having no charisma meant the designers were equally less motivated when it came to putting faces to names. Lacking in any real detail other than the basics, the characters look as bland as their personalities.

The futuristic landscape in which the story takes place is suitably grey and austere to fit in with the regimented lifestyle everyone is forced to live under, while retaining may touches of today’s world that offsets many of the ideas to of a progressive and technologically society.

Aside from a few scenes of gore and bloodshed the overall tone of the film is as uninspired as actually living under an oppressive regime – i.e: all the fun bits have been heavily reduced so we only get the dull bits. This may explain the haphazard script and reliance on pseudo philosophical jibberish to detract the viewers from the fact they are watching an underdeveloped story that the writers possibly didn’t have a clue how to develop beyond the initial concept.

Loups=Garous is ultimately a rather confused piece of work, opening and closing with a quote about werewolves then telling a story about the restrictions of physical contact under a draconian rule. Perhaps some people might get something more out of this but with such a hotch potch of undeveloped ideas, that may be a limited group. At least the music is good.

 

Extras:

English Language 2.0

Japanese Language 2.0

English Subtitles

Promotion Video – BGM

Promotion Video – End Theme

Movie Digest

Koshi-Tantan Loups Version

Koshi-Tantan Original Version

Theatrical Trailer

Picture Drama

Promo Video Early Version

Pilot Film

Cast Interview

Junichi Interview

Natsuhiko Interview

SCANDAL

 

Ratings – ** ½  

Man In Black

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