Judge Paul Pritchard is cold as ice.
Yesterday, Today, And No Future.
Following the death of every male on the planet, mankind faces extinction. With numbers dwindling fast, the women that survive face a battle of ideals as two factions form. On one side there are those prepared to accept their fate as mankind's final generation, while on the other side are those determined to see man survive through the use of bioengineering. These two disparate groups face off, as they battle for samples of "ICE," the substance both believe may offer their salvation.
When writing a piece of science fiction—especially one dealing with such outlandish tech as is featured in Ice—it's usually a good idea to set your story in some far off future, so as to afford your work a level of believability. Evidently, this didn't cross the minds of creator Yashushi Akimoto and director Makoto Kobayashi, as they chose to set their tale in 2012. Even when taking into account the fact that the original release for Ice was back in 2007, it seemed a pretty big leap that every man on Earth would have died within only a few short years, and technology—not to mention the architecture of major cities—would have advanced so much. But then, as it becomes evident after only a short while, logic isn't really the chief concern here.
The plot of Ice will draw immediate comparisons to Brian K. Vaughan's Y: The Last Man. Those familiar with the comic series know it explores the fate of mankind following the death of all males on the planet. Unfortunately, Ice really has very little to say, other than women are just as likely to resort to hostility and violence as the men they so despise. Perhaps had it been more focused, Ice might have been bearable, but sadly this is not the case. Soul-destroying monologues on the evil ways of men simply don't sit right with some of the more bizarre and poorly executed action sequences we are forced to endure. It seems Ice cannot decide whether it wants to be an action movie or something more thoughtful. Regardless, it comes up way short of the mark as either, never mind forging a winning combination of the two. More worrying is how the plot makes so little sense, and seemingly jumps from one idea to the next with little thought shown for crafting a coherent narrative. Even those accustomed to the most bizarre anime will find Ice impenetrable.
Considering Ice was originally released a 3-part mini-series, it's odd the visuals should appear so dated. Character designs, beyond being alarmingly uninspired, suggest anime from the early '90s, with characters sporting haircuts not seen since Nirvana destroyed poodle-rock to reign supreme on MTV. What's even odder is how poor the vehicles—which augment traditional animation with CGI—appear. Honestly, it seems impossible this could have been made three years after 2004's Appleseed reboot. Still, perhaps I was expecting too much of Ice, as it seems the animators struggle to carry off even the most basic of tasks, such as animate more than two characters at the same time. It's also notable how often the animators seem to duck out of having to animate lip movement, by having characters cover their mouths or talk off screen.
The voice talent—a term I'm using in the very loosest sense—is truly amongst the very worst I have ever heard. Ice marks the first time I had actually hoped for an English dub, but alas this release features only the Japanese language track. As such, the lengthy monologuing that frequents the film is made all the more unbearable.
The standard definition full frame transfer is uneven at best, with softness creeping in on a regular basis. Colors rarely appear vibrant, though black levels are good. Both the Dolby 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo tracks offer clear dialogue, with some meaty explosions thrown in for good measure. One thing worth noting is that, unless you are reasonably fluent in Japanese, the menus can be a little tricky to navigate, as much of the text is in Japanese only. The lone special feature is…well, I don't really know, since it's in Japanese and doesn't feature English subtitles. I would hazard a guess this is a Q&A with the shows creators, but I can't confirm this.
Ice is so far wedged up its own rectum that it doesn't even care I detested every minute I spent in its presence. Try as I might, the film's combination of snail-like pacing, inconsistent visuals, awful voice acting, and incoherent story conspired to nullify what little enjoyment there was to be found in this poor excuse for anime.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: MVD Visual
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