Cyborg 009 Re:Cyborg

| August 25, 2015

Kenji Kamiyama, the protege of the legendary Mamoru Oshii, has done plenty of work to distinctly separate himself from his brilliant mentor. Even when working within the same franchise, Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell, Kamiyama has managed to balance the intelligence of Oshii’s work, with a penchant of crafting smart scripts and brilliant action set pieces. Its really unfortunate that only part of that makes it to the screen with his rendition of Cyborg 009 Re:Cyborg, an adaptation/sequel for Shotaro Ishinomori’s classic manga. The story for the series is about nine humans that were kidnapped by an evil organization, who were experimented on, given cyborg bodies and can perform different powers, like flight and telepathy. Dr. Issac Gilmore has assembled the team once again, in order to stop a terrorist threat that is bombing various skyscrapers around the entire world. With various members around the globe looking for clues, many of them discover that the encounter with the people behind them are being controlled by a voice, that is dubbed as “His Voice”, in which the team tries to discover if its a metaphysical threat, or someone posing as God to do these evil deeds.

Right next to Knights of Sidona, Cyborg 009 Re:Cyborg is one of the strongest looking CGI anime that Japan has produced and sets a precedent for this style of animation. There are moments of blending both 2D and 3D, much like the film, King of Thorn, but where Thorns exchanges 2D character models into 3D, the uses in Re:Cyborg are much more subtle, like a characters hair, or a flowing scarf, that make for much more interesting aesthetics and smooth transitions. With Kamiyama both writing and directing the film, there are plenty of moment where the plot and situations give rise for the each of the characters to use their powers in a spectacular way. Obviously Joe Shimamura, the de-facto leader of the group, who has time manipulation powers gets most of the coolest action segments, even one where he outruns a nuclear bomb explosion, but even the other numbered characters are given great moments to shine.

Kamiyama’s plotting and script are in familiar territory, but manage to stumble under the weight of ambiguity and metaphysical elements that leave Re:Cyborg a middling affair. As Oshii’s understudy, Kamiyama has managed to tackle all kinds of political intrigue and global politics, which are major points in both Stand Alone Complex and Eden of the East. He’s never managed to get as close to religious or any metaphysical aspects in his work, unlike Oshii, who manages to leave audiences pondering on various philosophical and metaphysical elements, within an entertaining piece of work. While there’s a means of keeping things ambiguous, in order for the viewer to interpret the work for what its trying to impart, its another to keep things very confusing and then to not have an explanation for them in the very end of the film. The entire time, there’s build up to see if whether or not “His Voice” is actually the voice of God, but by the end, you’re left wondering if any of that mattered at all. Characters come to their own varied solutions and go about continuing to save the world, but it feels really slapped together, as if Kamiyama didn’t know how to incorporate these elements to make them fully cohesive.

The Blu-Ray/DVD Combo pack comes with a 44 page booklet, that gives an insight to each of the characters, as well as key plot points of the film, real life locations in the film and an extensive interview with Kamiyama. There’s also a reversible cover that showcases the entire cyborg team, in their traditional red outfits. While it would have been nice to have them more as video extras, the contents of the 44 page booklet is something that’s a really nice bonus, especially for a series that has a long history that most modern anime fans wouldn’t know much of.

While I have some issues with the film, the spectacle of Cyborg 009 Re:Cyborg is genuinely impressive and has a good amount of merit for even a single viewing. It’s not the greatest thing that Kenji Kamiyama’s had his hands in, but its still worth seeing at least once.

About the Author:

is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He's an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.
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