The latest from Mamoru Oshii is a great little film entitled Assault Girl which stars three cute women hunting huge sandworm-like monsters. I’m sure the movie will divide opinions. There are many slow paced moments with “nature-gazing” and walking around in the barren sand, but I liked that too. Also unique about Assault Girls is the tone of the film is much more colorful and broken up into chapters ala Kill Bill style. Too add to the uniqueness, the film is 95% percent in Engrish. Each chapter features a Japanese language text introduction, plus there’s one Japanese language dialogue scene between Meisa Kuroki and Yoshikatsu Fujiki.
Unique is sometimes not good however, as I had a hard time understanding the language, especially the parts were the four actors speak poorly pronounced English while wearing masks, and then there are some Japanese spoken parts, though not very many of those. Fans of the director will immediately recognize his traits: deliberate pacing, cerebral storytelling, and a haunting score by Kawai Kenji. What I wasn’t used to seeing from this director was the ending (or lack thereof). Perhaps the most infuriating thing is the absence of an ending.
I’m very much used to the Oshii that juggles entertainment, high concepts, silly jokes and fan-service. Overall the movie is rather light material for Oshii, much less complex than e.g. Avalon, but it has some nice humor and it’s pretty entertaining. I touched on the color backdrops earlier and continuing on with that, I should mention the CG work is top notch, while the costumes and music blend together for a visually stunning film. The movie was developed as a follow-up to two of Oshii’s past short films, titled Assault Girl: Kentucky no Hinako and Assault Girl 2. After watching this film I am going to track down his other work to see if those films are equally as impressive.
Judging from this film, I can tell Oshii enjoys the potential for surprises inherent in live-action filmmaking. Unlike other films in this particular genre, if you’ve seen the trailer (and if you haven’t, check it out above), you haven’t pretty much seen the best/most exciting things. It is a nice change of pace to encounter an action film that isn’t all about repetition and boredom. Even though this is a live action film, the action, main characters and their weaponry derive from anime influences. It all comes together in a neat package that I couldn’t help but be entertained by. After all, the whole movie contains awesome women with awesome guns!