Reviews of Spriggan (1998) and related work

Spriggan (1998Moving picture, 90 minutes)

Fat Man and Little Boy!

moving picture animation Japanese production fiction

Spriggan (2022Moving picture, 4.5 hours)

Seen in 2022.

17-year-old Ominae Yū occasionally shows up at his high school while secretly serving as an elite soldier of the ARCAM Corporation, a relatively benevolent player in a global conflict over out-of-place archaeological artifacts (OOPArts).

The second episode of this series adapts the original comic’s tribute to Genesis (ca. 500–400 BCE): A story about Noah’s Ark as a possibly-alien terraforming device. That section of the comic is the same one that had already been adapted in the 1998 film. Fat Man and Little Boy, two US agents named after US atomic bombs, are featured again. However, this time Yū and Fat Man are not former partners, and the USA is just one of many imperial powers, with little differentiation between them.

Spriggan the web series puts the kitsch worldbuilding in its proper context: A series of cheeky power fantasies sprinkled with girls, comedy and Forteana, like Atlantis Interceptors (1983). It is as if James Bond had been written by Erich von Däniken. The plots seem to be transported from 1991 to the present day, but it’s not obvious. The spy tech and OOPart technologies of the various secret societies add techno-thriller science fiction with a uchronian feel. Some of it, like an invisible-beam anti-aircraft laser system in the sixth episode, is surprisingly good, but most of it is perfunctory, existing to place Yū in a position of secret knowledge and power for the reader to enjoy by proxy.

There are moments, particularly in the fourth episode (“Berserker”) and the sixth, where the writers try to add emotional depth by having Yū question his existence as a murderous tool of weapons-making ARCAM, but this does not reach the level of Black Lagoon (2006). The politics are also naïve, with interchangeable foreign and domestic threats and almost no ovearching development. The animation is OK, but not nearly as impressive as the 1998 film. Overall, a pleasantly superficial romp.

moving picture same source material animation Japanese production fiction series