The Electric ROSSMAN
Before I start off on this review, I just want to try something -- bear with me. I've been writing these reviews for about 6 or so years now, and not once has any quote of mine appeared on the back of any DVD case, or any manga collection ever printed, in order to try and sell said product to the mass market. You know how on the back of a movie cover they'll have bland as hell quotes like "Two thumbs up!!" or "This is what the medium of animation was created for!".... *YAWN*
So to remedy this, and try and liven up the quote-making industry, I'm going to throw out something that can be used for the eventual marketing campaign for Kurau: Phantom Memory when it's brought out in the States. Here goes (and feel free to use any of the text below, American distributors of Kurau):
Now on to the actual review.
The show starts off in 2100AD on the Moon (which has been mostly terraformed [at least it's habitable underneath the giant greenhouses build into its craters and crevasses on the surface], and strangely has the same gravity as Earth... They never did explain this funky fact) where some scientists are performing an experiment on a new type of energy that they think is cooler than the Shizuma Drive: Rynax energy. Well, it turns out that Rynax energy is actually a living entity, and two pieces/bits of it escape the controlled environment of the experiment and blast apart the lead egghead's visiting 12 year-old daughter right in front of everybody's surprised-as-shit eyes. Soon the girl, Kurau, mysteriously reappears (shades of Doctor Manhattan's creation and origin in Watchmen), but she is no longer the girl she once was. Kurau claims to be some Rynax energy-being that is just using the girl's body like a puppet in order to survive in our world. And now she's waiting for her "pair" to appear so that she won't be lonely.
Fast forward ten years later (2110AD). Kurau is now 22 and living on Earth while making a living as a bad ass "agent" (which means she's pretty much a merc/bodyguard/spy), utilizing her cut-ass-rugged superpowers of the Rynax (powers that closely resemble Astra Furst's energy arsennal in Astro City... Jesus Christ I'm a geek...): she can glow bright yellow, she can fly, she can shoot off energy blasts, she can phase through walls, and she can wear tight, black bodysuits that show off her pretty hot bod like nobody else I know. ANYWAY, she's still just a Rynax trapped in a human's body, and she's still alone -- at least until her "pair" suddenly and incadescently appears by her side one night, in the form of a girl who looks very similar to the 12 year-old Kurau, but with long hair... And all THAT'S by the end of just the first episode.
Holy crap... I'm just gonna give the briefest of synopses of the rest of the show -- not because I hate spoiling people (in fact I love doing that), but because there's just so much goddamn ground to cover. So Kurau now has a mini-Kurau as her pair, who she names "Christmas." Kurau and Christmas then have a few adventures together, but quickly get discovered by the GPO (who somebody online says stands for "Goddamn Police Orifices" since, I'm guessing, everybody in the organization of military-type police is a total asshole and a half) and go on the run (since Rynasapiens [Rynax energized humans like Kurau and Christmas] are banned from existing). They meet some interesting and cool people (friends hired to help the two, family, and even some bitchin' enemies) and travel around the world, and to and from the Moon, several times before the final credits roll in order to discover just what the hell is going on behind the scenes and why everybody's just so choady towards them.
Kurau: Phantom Memory's plot is like a really large python that just ate a playground full of children: It's really cool looking in the beginning (snake heads are cool!), but it just keeps going on and on (lots of running and chasing), and there are lots of peaks and valleys to travel through to get to the tail end of things. But that tail end is actually ANOTHER fucking snake head! Yeah, the end of Kurau is what truly makes this whole show a joy to watch. Kurau: Phantom Memory gets lots and lots of character development under its belt, then goes balls-out for a finale that truly affects everyone and everything that happened in the show up to that point. Not only does the ending (and the full episode made for closure) really touch you, but it makes you realize that these hand-drawn characters actually made you believe in them. It's been a long time since I saw a TV show or movie where I got this emotionally attached to a fictional character, let alone an entire cast of them. I think Kobe Tai Does SouthEast Asia was the last time.
Now for a quick list of the things that I really really, with sugar-on-top, liked about Kurau:
- The meaning behind Christmas' name is very touching and is never SHOVED in your face.
- The cool, one-wheeled motorcycles that everybody rides in the future look just like the ones used by the good guys (Earth's most powerful soldiers) in The Spiral Zone.
- By the end of episode four I had no idea how in the hell things were going to end, let alone what the real plot was going to be (I prefer not being force-fed my stories within the first 10 minutes of a 20+ episode series... Which is the biggest mistake and problem with such shows like Shana and Black Lagoon [both of which I had to stop watching by episode 5 since they either went NOWHERE (Black Lagoon), or I knew exactly how things were going to end (Shana -- which I then skipped to the final episode and lo-and-behold, things ended EXACTLY how I thought they would)]).
- The biggest asshat characters (the little turd in episode 15, and the twins later on) actually have the best written redemption plots I've seen in a long time. I was actually pleased at how well their parts played out... It is amazing though how all Rynasapiens (except Kurau and Christmas) are royal dickheads of the highest caliber (even moreso than most of the GPO). Strange.
- All the unintentionally funny lines regarding Christmas' name, like: "I HAVE to save Christmas!" "What does this mean for Christmas?" and "Is Christmas Jewish?"
- The fact that the writers did NOT indeed screw us over with Christmas' entry into this world -- they actually made the explanation fairly tragic and meaningful.
- None of the episodes (that come to mind) appear to be farmed out to shittier, lesser animation studios to save time and yen. High quality, animated smack all the way through.
- The catchy opening theme song.
- AND the fact that with Kurau: Phantom Memory Studio Bones finally redeemed themselves (well, somewhat) for the crap, or less-than-stellar, endings to their other works, like Wolf's Rain, Scrapped Princess, and Fullmetal Alchemist. Kurau is closer to the final sum of their glorious RahXephon series. I am pleased.
TAMMI WITH AN "I"
and her "Pair"
That chickie, Kurau, was one bad-ass bitch! Hooo-wee! She was all like blastin' the shit outta all them re-re cops, and she even had that cutie-pie little clone girl to hang out with her and help blow stuff up too. Their adventures sure was fun and all, but they just seemed to go on for a bit too long. Yeah, Kurau's auntie and uncle were good kin ta have on yer side if yer in a scrape, but did they actually advance the plot at all?
And was it just me, or did anybody else want to see those two twin energy guys get it on with Kurau and her little sister?... Or simply those two together. The Rossman tells me that they'd have to label this show "yowie" or something if they did that, and that a lot less people would see it then, so Ah guess it's better that those two hotties kept their doodads all zipped up in the end. Hmmm, Ah think Ah know some people who can draw me some hot 'n heavy pictures of that anyway... That should do me jus' fine.
The Powered-Up DR. DAVE
Call me old and senile, but didn't they already make this TV show back in the eighties and call it "Starman"? True, Starman did not have a cute-as-a-button clone of himself tagging along and helping out with his weekly cases, but he did have an annoying son... And that is sort of the same thing. Boys can't be cute, just assholes. That is scientific fact.
This show, with all the glowing people and such, did remind me of an experiment of sorts that I performed a few years back... Well, by "experiment" I mean "I watched as my niece stuck a fork in my nuclear-powered, zombie-making toaster and turned into a billion glowing atoms." Though, unlike this Kurau TV show, she did not in fact "recombine", nor did she have any super powers after the fact, unless you count "smelling like burnt ozone."