The 50-minute animation is a sci-fi fantasy story rotoscope/2D/3D hybrid animation set in a future where space travel and migration between planets is possible. 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.
Great great movie…tech-wise. Ok, granted it’s not the most elaborate or original of movie plots. It’s the eternal story about love and jealousy, power and corruption, good and evil but it has got a Miyazaki twist to its story, or at least tries to emulate the master, rather unsuccessfully I might add. It tries to be scientifically ingenious in it’s main idea which makes no sense if one thinks about it (you don’t really have to think, its obvious enough). The director shifts perspectives from action scenes towards slower paced dramatic scenes before returning to the action for an excellent tempo. And the animation? Well, let me get to that.
If you’ve seen A Scanner Darkly, you should be familiar with the technique used for this film. Fans of the Animatrix, Titan A.E., and Princess Mononoke would probably enjoy this, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to a broader audience because of its superb audio visual design, and landscape sequences. When they’re not fighting, leaping, driving, or shooting, they’re spending most of their time occupying the frame, doing and saying things of absolutely no consequence. Luckily, the film is condensed in a matter where I found this to be acceptable. There is so much imagery. They really figured out how to blend excellent Gothic and oriental architecture with the industrial cyberpunk setting of the slums.
The backgrounds are stunning, but I think they pushed themselves so far in making it work that they were limited in where they could take the story. I feel that the concept was good but it would have worked better as a series. The characters were under developed and the film felt short and insubstantial considering its ambitious themes. I by no means make the claim that this film is be all end all, it has a few problems. There’s a few transitional edits that feel a bit awkward, and almost no story is given to flushing out the world inside. For fans of animation, this film’s a must see on visuals alone, and for everyone else, a mediocre film awaits you.