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She, The Ultimate Weapon: Another Love Song

director: Atsuko Kase

59 minutes (15) 2005
Manga DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 2/10
reviewed by Paul Higson
I don't recall having been this under-whelmed by a film under review. Atsuko Kase's She, The Ultimate Weapon: Another Love Song doesn't compel me to research its genesis, though the simple sense of its existence and production does haunt me for the duration of its running time. Structured in two parts, with an overall running time of 59 minutes, this animation appears to have been intended for television (a Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting production) though how the effort behind the two half-hour episodes can pay off is a mystery to me. Clearly, it is going to have an earlier comic-book source, based, as the credits inform, on characters created by Shin Takahashi. It opens with a lot of destruction as if desperate to impress, fighter planes and heavy artillery up against Lt. Colonel Mizuki, a former foot soldier reduced ironically to the one foot, having lost a leg in battle. Special Missions and the Military Scientific Research Laboratory offer her an opportunity to return to the battlefield which allows her to better her wishes at that point: "I'm a soldier. I'll fight on one leg if I have to." Right-o, Lt. Colonel, they respond; but 'right toe', she doesn't have one. They turn her into the ultimate weapon, or to be more accurate the penultimate weapon as the eponymous war machine is the later subject of the army and scientific team. The ultimate weapon is a high school senior from Hokkaido, a girl called Chise. You might call them cyborg transformers or biomechanical convertibles, but the filmmakers are clearly uncertain of the science too, as it is not explained beyond the words 'experimental process'. This utter nonsense allows the girls to casually produce wings, rocket propulsion systems and metamorph limbs into big guns. They also have the ability to mushroom cloud entire city centres. I have not a foggy fuck who the two military sides are, we simply enter the story in the middle of some stupid war.

Neither is it explained why Chise is the chosen one. She is young, therefore pliable, latent in talent, the idea is that she can be ultimately controllable as they redevelop her to their own purposes. Before you know it the director of operations is realising that, because she is young, and has missed her first kiss with the boy of her dreams, and yearns for her family, that it is going to be impossible to control her completely. Ah, well! Lt. Colonel Mizuki is initially un-accepting of the schoolgirl as a warrior, then bonds with her as they realise that they are both the victims of unrequited love. Unknown to Mizuki, her former fellow combatant and love interest is still out in the field moving from one battlefield to the next. Lt. Colonel Mizuki sacrifices her life for the girl. Without Mizuki, there is only Command Headquarters' indifference to the girl's emotional state. The uncontrollable force within is overpowering her and she becomes that dream military machine, returning from one scene of devastation with only the next mission in mind.

Of concern in this manga is the usual Japanese predilection for eroticising young girls. She is seen in schoolgirl uniform then in a recovery tank with breasts that would put Tura Satana to shame. In another scene the girl is on all fours in a city street, either projecting missiles from her back or repeatedly struck by them impervious to the damage they should cause (it is hard to tell which, the story is in a hurry to be told and incidental episodes are brief). "It hurts! Stop! Don't come!" she protests, rutting with the impact. It's pathetic! The writer pretends to send a message of love, "at the end... be with the one you love," but as it destroys cities and callously kills en masse, you care about its central characters no more than the they seem to about others around them. Somebody protect us from this rubbish.

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