AKA: Time Stranger, GoShogun: The Time Stranger
Year Released: 1985
Running Time: 90 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: 15+
Related Films/Series: GoShogun, The GoShogun Movie, Macron 1
For Fans Of: Megazone 23, Space Adventure Cobra, Galaxy Express 999, Gatchaman
-I reviewed this movie by watching the Nu Tech Digital version of the DVD.
-This is a sequel to the original GoShogun TV series that takes place 40 years after the events there, but one can watch this movie without any prior knowledge. It is part of the same canon though.
-GoShogun co-creators Kunihiko Yuyama (director) and Takeshi Shudo (writer) would later work on the Pokemon anime series. Yeah, really.
-Despite Production Reed FKA Ashi Productions (the animation studio for the GoShogun series) being a Japanese company, they’ve done outsourced animation and in-between work for American cartoons like M.A.S.K., Skysurfer Strike Force, and even the Mega Man TV series. Yes, I’m talking about the one with the “Super fighting robot…MEGA MAN!” them song.
-Here’s a correlation for you. Remy’s voice actress Mami Koyama has also played the main character Chiyoko from Millennium Actress when said character is in her 20s-40s. Why is this interesting? Both films deal with an older woman who’s dreams switch genres multiple times and they feel extremely real while acting as paralleling stories to their current situations respectively. It makes me wonder if Satoshi Kon watched this movie.
I’ve never delved into that much 80s anime too much outside of Robotech and Voltron, but I did expand my knowledge in that decade years ago. I exposed myself to Zeta Gundam, the Megazone 23 trilogy, a bit of Dr. Slump of all things, among others. Then, I stumbled upon this almost forgotten sequel to a mecha series.
GoShogun: The Time Etranger is a film dealing with Remy Shimada. She’s in her hovercar on one heck of a joyride despite a traffic jam in front of her. Remy’s cruising around causing some havoc in the futuristic freeways until she see’s a bird on the road, veers off the street, and crashes a few fathoms below where she’s in critical condition. They identify her body and they find out she had an undiagnosed fatal illness where she has a five percent chance of living. Her old teammates from over forty years ago catch wind of this and check up on her at the hospital. In the meantime, Remy is dreaming where she and a younger version of her crew is trapped in a city with no name where people receive baptisms of blood and will die in a matter of days.
I didn’t expect this action movie to be this surreal and to use a meta-narrative with Remy fighting in her dreams while she’s comatose in real life. It made for some unexpected storytelling given the genre The Time Etranger is. There are a mix of flashbacks, abstract imagery, and the hospital scenes that make up the whole of this story. I found out that this was a sequel to a giant robot anime despite the robots not being there expect for a museum display and a car ornament for Remy. This could throw people who only saw the TV series for a loop. However, it still works as the characters are the focus instead of the mecha. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of action to go around, but they involve the crew using guns and fists though. The recurring dreams with the younger Remy show some great character development while also showing her inner conflicts. She’s portrayed as a strong and capable woman who can kick anyone’s butt, but she wasn’t always like that. It’s great that they showed vulnerability even when she’s dying in a hospital bed in the “real world”.
The animation is dated given that it was released in 1985, but it had good production to it. The fight scenes are quite fluid despite their age. I was surprised that there weren’t many speed lines or freeze frames in the combat scenes which I thought was good since that would still be an overused cliche going into the 90s. The imagery with the dreams and nightmares were quite creative. The nightmare of Remy being torn apart was very artistic where it fades to black while Remy’s outline was red. The dream that she has in the third act of the film with the all black background with the silhouettes of having blue skies in them was a unique image. The metaphor and context around that scene is quite powerful.
While there were some things to like about The Time Etranger, I did find some faults. Again, the visuals are old so this could turn off some younger viewers not used to old-school anime. It wasn’t as big of an issue compared to some of the other things. There’s also a lack of character development with some other members of the GoShogun crew. Fans of that show could elaborate on them more, but I wish there was more progression with some of them. In addition to the crew and this taking place forty years after the events of the original series, most of the characters don’t even look that much older than what they should be. Remy is supposed to be seventy years old in this timeline. Most of the other characters are close to her age, but they barely look a day over forty. There are two presentations that I found to be questionable with how things are portrayed. The first one which other reviewers have even pointed out is the desert city where these zombie-like inhabitants have ambiguously Middle Eastern garb while praying to this strange tower at certain times per day. I get that it’s supposed to be a critique on fatalism, but I can see some people of the Muslim faith taking offense to the portrayal even though the faith of the citizens aren’t supposed to be like that. The second one is very hard to watch in this decade are the cops. They’re supposed to be crooked, but how they show it can be hard to stomach. They start by “protecting” the GoShogun crew by gunning down the unarmed inhabitants with at least a dozen shots while justifying their actions because they’re supposed to protect the city “from rioters”. There’s even a scene where the lead policeman tries to choke out Remy which gave me bad vibes involving an iconic death scene from Do The Right Thing (which it predates) and what happened to Eric Garner. I get they’re villains, but some events over the past few years make this movie harsher in hindsight.
The story itself is powerful though. I enjoyed Remy’s character development and how her dreams act as a metaphor for fighting fate while having the will to live. There’s even some witty dialog with the characters which I appreciated. When she sees her baptism of blood with the shower and sink literally pouring blood out, she says “How cute.” so nonchalantly. When her teammate Bundle rescues her while driving a motorbike he says that he didn’t steal it. To paraphrase it, Bundle claims that what he’s doing is “lending without paperwork.” I did laugh as he said it in a dead serious voice. The ending itself can be hopeful despite the ambiguity with how it was shot after all of those adventures happening in Remy’s dreams.
GoShogun: The Time Etranger is a good old-school anime movie. I was surprised with the characterization and some of the storytelling with some depth in it. The animation was quite serviceable despite it’s age. I wish some other characters got more character development and that certain portrayals would be changed which history doesn’t help at all. It was a decent watch and I’m not even a GoShogun fan. It could’ve been better, but I’ve seen way worse from that decade.
Adjustable Point System:
Add 2 points if you’re a GoShogun fan
Add 1 point if you like 80s anime
Subtract 2 points if you don’t like surrealism in your action movies
-Excellent parallels with Remy’s dreams and dying status
-Remy’s character being ahead of it’s time for being a strong female character
-The portrayal of the townsfolk with the Islam allusions and police brutality
-Lack of development for supporting characters
-Some 80s cheesiness
Final Score: 7/10 points
Content Warning: Teens and up, but the content is more than a PG-13 flick. There’s some language, but nothing that harsh. There’s plenty of gore given the baptism of blood premonitions and plenty of collateral damage with the action scenes. I will say the rampant citizen killings by the town’s police can be very hard to watch given some events over the past few years. The most disturbing scene involves a nightmare sequence where a panther is eating a vision of Remy’s corpse where she’s adorned in blood and you do see some frontal nudity involved. The position of the panther over the body makes it even harder to watch given a potential implication.
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