8th Man After


104 minutes
English Subtitles

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These days I find myself doing a lot of my little vices more than I care to. Maybe it's a sign of changing times or something. Smoking almost three times as much a day on occasion, and watching way too much anime are the most glaring facets of the flawed jadestone that is my life. It's not that I really dislike anime, despite what you may think from reading this site, it's just that I feel you need to be in a certain mood to do something like. Therefore... if I'm not in the mood then what the hell is the point of watching something almost two hours long?

Case in point, last night. Went to see the excellent Kurosawa movie Hidden Fortress deep down in Center City, near Jerry's 'hood. I have nothing against the movie in the slightest, I actually thought it was pretty good. But I was so damn tired that I slept through half the movie. I remember waking at many points during the film as the entire audience broken out with infectious laughter. However, since the movie was subtitled and I had my eyes closed I was not privy to whatever humor the harbinger of modern cinema thought worthy to bless us with. Hell of a way to spend seven bucks. I have no one to blame but myself for not drinking in the bounty that is Toshiro Mifune. Next time, I tell myself. But with my reticent attitude towards subtitles who knows when that's going to happen.

And thusly, as we're all nearly giving ourselves frostburn trying to help our illustrious "friend" Gay John out of foot deep snow he was so clever to drive his car into we got to talking about our long lost loves of Saturday Anime back in the day on the Sci-fi Channel. And sure enough the old gem of 8th Man After came up. Faithful viewer and anime porn fanatic Kyle (hi Kyle!) was quick to inform me of some serious cuts to the televised version of this movie that was spliced together from OVAs and as such was likely cut beforehand too. However, I can't be entirely sure on that.

Thusly my love of 8th Man was rekindled. I vaguely remembered seeing some of the dubbed Tobor the 8th Man way back in the day and I had only seen bits of pieces of this while it aired on the before mentioned two scant hours of anime shown every Saturday morning. I remember I would plant myself on the couch whenever my parents weren't taking up the only room with cable in the house and watch it until I puked, and then I'd want more. Those were the days, though I can't exactly say I want them back so much as I want to hide "my secret shame" (as I call the anime/videogaming portion of my life) and let it never see the light of day. Have you ever brought a girl back to your room and the first thing her eyes fall on is the four or five consoles strewn around the room? That's the worst feeling ever.

But I'd like to imagine that, while not anything really great, 8th Man After gave me back a bit of that starry eyed virgin wonder. And it's hard to believe that that was seven years ago. I've matured a lot since then, you know, for someone who still enjoys playing games with make believe people in them.

Let me tell you, nothing could've overjoyed me more than when Kyle informed me that my favorite dub actor of all time, Mike Reynolds, made an appearance in this. As whom? Why the police chief of course! Who else would Mike Reynolds seriously be playing? His performance is spot on, of course, and I'd imagine that's just because it's very hard to imagine a supervising police officer or barring that, starship captain, without that gravelly somnambulant tone of his. I know I shouldn't have been surprised, as the now defunct Streamline had all of five or six voice actors anyway. Steve Bulen is also rather good in his role as Hazama, the soon-to-be 8th man after, if you will. It's a better dub than I would've expected from a company like Streamline. And while this may be hamfisted nostalgia clouding my eyes, I think that things could've been worse than they were. This is certainly a good thing because things were not see fit to provide us with the Japanese language track.

Let me boil down the story to you as best I can. The idea of The 8th Man is somewhat of a conglomeration of Superman and Robocop. The original 8th man, Azama is dead now. Soon to replaced by the "not long for this world" Private Detective Hazama, who happens to be going out with the same girl whom the previous robot avenger dug on more than ditches in the Army Corp. Hazama is killed by a crooked cop and the police are quick to stitch him right back up again and send him out to enjoy himself in a world filled with cyberjunkies straight from the nacho cheese covered notebook of some pimply faced Shadowrun fanatic. Even the football players have cybernetic implants and let me tell you, those Black Warriors are nothing but trouble.

From then on the story is of Hazama's loss and later, resumption of his human identity. See, Hazama really dies in this, and the cyborg that replaces him only takes his mannerisms on to make it seem as if he never went to the big Private Dick office in the sky. This brought a thought to my mind, of how good a robot actor would be if they could pretend to display human emotions. That's a seriously scary thought to have. I'd have to kill all the robots AND all the humans to make sure I was safe. Then I wouldn't be sure if the robots secretly replaced me with a robot and made me forget that they did it, so I'd have to kill myself too. But I'd save that for last, when I knew the rest of them were all dead.