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Yu.Spriggan

     Statistics: Anime: Rated R for "violence" and lotsa blood, I've seen the entire movie, available subtitled or dubbed through ADVision. Manga: Not rated, I'd rate it R for lotsa blood, I read the first graphic novel (contains the volcano and Noah's Ark sagas), written by Hiroshi Takashige with art by Ryoki Minagawa, available alongside two other volumes (all flopped) from Viz.

     Before we go into much about Spriggan, first let me clarify exactly what the relationship between the anime in the manga is. The manga, which was released in America under the title 'Striker' (which is what Spriggan means when translated to English; note that when pronounced on a Japanese tongue it is Supurîgan), is a somewhat long-running series that was actually quite popular in Japan, and is divided up into several different mini-sagas. The anime movie is based on the second saga, or the Noah's Ark one, also named 'The Armored Warrior'. The first saga is the volcano one, also named 'Temple of Fire'.

     Immediately we see, in the case of the anime, that because the entire first saga is left out, the movie relys on the fact that the viewers have already read the manga and hence know what is going on. And because most people in America have not read the manga, allow me to summarize what happened in the volcano saga that you need to know: ARCAM's top operative, Yu Ominae, is sent out to prevent a dude named Koichi Moroha and his Russian cohorts from taking artifacts, including an orb that allows people to control all the volcanoes in the world. However, another objective Yu recieves is to find the secret of a 'key' (a little card) that ARCAM found, and is believed to be the key to Noah's Ark. Yu then goes and successfully defeats the Russians (though he has some trouble with a giant guy named Victor Shutrov), but Koichi gets the orb, hence sending off an eruption. Yu goes to stop Koichi, but Koichi simply cuts Yu up with his family sword that can cut through anything. Right before he can deliver a death blow to Yu, he pulls out the 'key', which breaks Koichi's sword, as the key is made by the Gods while Koichi's sword, however powerful, is still manmade. During this time, Rie Yamabishi, a reporter that was ordered to go along with Yu and Yu's childhood friend, finds the secrets to opening Noah's Ark inside the relic where Koichi gets the orb. Yu punches Koichi's face in and escapes, leading into the Noah's Ark saga.

     As I said before, the anime is based off the Noah's Ark section of the manga, but there are some key differences. The most notable two are that while in the manga, Yu has his armored muscle suit the entire time as his special technique, though in the anime, he gets it the same time he gets his knife and knuckle guard (which also happens in the manga), and Jean Jacquemonde, the other striker/spriggan/whatever you want to call it, is severally misrepresented in the anime, as his personality is changed from a stuck-up prick to a serious guy that is just there to help Yu, not to mention that he never loses blood in the anime and hence never does his awesome transformation that happens in the manga.

     Anyways, enough rambling about the comparisons between the two mediums. Spriggan is a very comparable experience to Akira, complete with screenplay by Katsuhiro Otomo, and even a superpowered little blue kid. However, one of the last things Spriggan is is Akira. While Akira is mind-numbingly complex, Spriggan is very simple, with a plot that serves more as an excuse for some of the most bloody and furthermore awesome action sequences ever made. One of the prime examples of this is the Little Boy character, whom has cutting wire which he lays on people when he jumps over them. What is the point of this, when it would be so much easier to just shoot them? Obviously so you can see people splatter like tomatoes.

     The animation in Spriggan in almost entirely cel, with only one or two scenes containing obvious CG. That, alongside rather realistic features on the people (which is only a true characteristic in the anime, the manga is very anime-style) makes the animation what I like to call 'Akira meets Ninja Scroll'.

     To sum up, Spriggan is a rather average super-action film with solid animation, neat characters, and a very abrupt ending that suit the manga well but seems way too sudden for an ending to a movie. If you are big on splatterblood action movies, don't think twice, go see Spriggan. Either way, for best results, first go read the manga so you know what is going on, then go watch the anime so you can see Spriggan in all of its awesome glory. Final Rating: Anime: C-, Manga: C, The full experience: A

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