by Timothy Georgi
Western culture is a popular, recurring theme in today's anime. The anime spectrum is filled with little bits of pop culture, from American comic book heroes to automobiles from Detroit. One of the more controversial Western culture fascinations in recent anime is the use of references from the Bible. Evangelion was one of the first major anime series to tackle a "What if?" theme based on verses from the Bible, dealing with concepts like the Apocalypse, the Creation and the ever popular concept of Man playing God. Another Biblical "What if?" situation is explored as the ultimate battle for the future of mankind is played out in the latest full-length motion picture release from ADV Films, Spriggan.
Scientists from a secret international organization called ARCAM have made a spectacular discovery. In the mountains of Turkey, a gigantic object is found buried in the rock. The object creates a magnetic field that triggers a rockslide and the scientific team was engulfed by the interior of the earth. ARCAM has determined the object to be the Ark of Noah from the Old Testament.
Back in Japan, ARCAM's 16-year-old Spriggan agent Ominae Yu had returned from a deadly mission to find his classmate Tanaka confronting him on the roof of the school. Tanaka stood trembling as he ripped open his shirt to reveal a message, "Noah will be your grave," and a large amount of explosives. He tries to fight it, but a post-hypnotic suggestion causes Tanaka to ignite the explosives, killing him and destroying half the school in the process. Yu escapes, but is determined to discover the meaning of the message and who is behind the death of his friend.
Yu barges into the office of the ranking ARCAM official and finds that this incident is just one in a long string of messages sent to him via the bodies of his dead friends and that the information had been purposely withheld from him to prevent Yu from running off and taking matters into his own hands. The branch leader also tells Yu that ARCAM teams around the world had been under attack since the discovery of the project code-named NOAH, which they believe is the ancient Ark of Noah from the Old Testament.
Yu, in true youthful fashion, takes off for Turkey against orders. As he arrives, he's ambushed by a rouge group of the U.S. Department of Defense known as the Machine Corps, operating without the knowledge of their superiors. Yu barely escapes, but he knows that the race is on for the ultimate artifact. Yu makes his way to the ARCAM base at the base of Mt. Ararat where he learns more about the situation at hand. Yu is joined by another Spriggan, Jean Jacques Mondo, an incredible fighter from the France branch of ARCAM who serves as both Yu's friend and mentor.
Meanwhile, the Machine Corps have arrived at the base to take possession of the Ark. Yu and Jean are faced with a group of cyborg warriors lead by Fattman and Little Boy, two of the most deadly members of the Machine Corps team. The battle ensues and the Machine Corps forces are eventually defeated. Unfortunately for ARCAM, the Machine Corps has held their most powerful weapon in reserve, the mysterious Colonel MacDougall. MacDougall has his own agenda though as he takes control of the Ark. Yu must now venture inside the Ark and stop MacDougall before he causes the annihilation of the human race!
Spriggan is based on the manga by creators Chu Takasige and Ryoji Minagawa. The story originally ran as a serial adventure that appeared in the monthly magazine Shonen Sunday from 1989 to 1996. With millions of copies of the series sold worldwide, the series was a natural for production as an animated feature. Legendary anime creator Katsuhiro Otomo and director Hirotsugu Kawasaki transferred the story from the page to the screen in masterful fashion. Spriggan features some of the best animation to come from Japan in years with a story that rivals Otomo's original Akira in power and action. The ADV English adaptation is one of their best productions in recent years and was a great candidate for presentation on the big screen.
The DVD release preserves the original presentation, though is fairly light on features. The video transfer is excellent and is presented in the original theatrical screen aspect ratio. The audio is available in Dolby Digital 5.1 on both the English and Japanese language tracks. The disc features high quality animated menus and video portfolios featuring character designs, vehicles and equipment and key backgrounds as well as a commentary by ADR Director, Matt Greenfield. Spriggan is Rated R by the MPAA for intense violence.
If you're looking for some high intensity action that runs you non-stop for 90 minutes, this is the anime for you! Spriggan is a mind-numbing, fast-paced action explosion that will push you to the edge of your seat... and beyond. It's big-screen action you don't want to miss.