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  Midnight Eye Goku The Future is Sexy
Year: 1989
Director: Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Buichi Terasawa
Stars: Juji Matsuda, Mami Koyama, Norio Wakamoto, Daisuki Gouri, Ichiro Nagai, Iemasa Kamazuki, Koichi Yamadera, Koji Totani, Megumi Terase, Michihiro Ikezumi, Mikio Terashima, Yoko Kawanami, Yusaku Yara
Genre: Sex, Action, Thriller, Animated, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Far-flung future private eye Goku Furinji (voiced by Juji Matsuda) is alarmed during a stakeout when his one-time police partner flings himself out the window of a tall building. Despite a stern warning from the Chief to leave well enough alone, Goku teams with sexy policewoman Yoko Yazaki (Mami Komiya) to investigate sinister industrialist Genji Hakuryu (Norio Wakamoto). But the detectives reckon without Hakuryu's unusual hi-tech security mechanisms including a couple of sexy bio-mechanical mutant women who hypnotize Goku into a tight spot. Surviving a brutal assault, he awakens in a laboratory where a mysterious but benevolent voice informs he now has the ability to take revenge since his left eye has been implanted with a powerful super-computer able to control all the computers around the world.

Midnight Eye Goku marks a meeting of minds between Buichi Terasawa, manga maestro behind sexy (there's that word again), super-cool, ├╝ber-macho superhero sagas like Space Adventure Cobra (1982), and Yoshiaki Kawajiri, anime's leading neo-noir science fiction auteur. It also happens to be a loose SF spin on the Monkey King myth. Yet although our hero shares his name with the super-simian Son Goku and wields an extendable, indestructible laser-shooting pole, Terasawa does very little with such folkloric parallels. It is far more of a hard-boiled detective pastiche with cyberpunk overtones. Playing with murky blue shadows and bright neon lights, Kawajiri conjures a brooding city-scape rife with allusions to film noir and of course, inevitably, Blade Runner (1982) while the freakishly erotic bio-mech femmes fatale evoke the pioneering effects work of 'body horror' exponents Rob Bottin and Screaming Mad George.

Terasawa is a manga artist influenced by European comics and Sixties cinema, notably Barbarella (1967) (almost all his shapely female characters resemble Jane Fonda) and James Bond. Driven more by the desire to be visually interesting than logical, he weaves a wildly fetishistic world full of lurid sex and pulp violence. However, the plot does add up and the action, skillfully handled by Kawajiri, sets pulses pounding with taut, suspenseful set-pieces and plenty of mind-blowing ideas. It is set up as very much a man's world casting Goku as an impossibly intrepid and unflappable hero who can take a brutal beating and come back stronger. Yet he is also a knight errant crusading against injustice in the Philip Marlowe mould sharing a similar streak of melancholy ("What is the use of controlling all the computers in the world when I can't even protect one woman?")

Women in Terasawa's world are there to disrobe then die, cast either as surreal sex monsters or voluptuous victims. Even so his sado-erotic flights of fancy are so unfettered and outrageous as to be oddly lighthearted and amusing rather than misogynistic and offensive. Things reach the height of delirious absurdity when a topless sex ninja with hypnotic peacock feathers leaps onto a speeding oil tanker or a lethal lap-dancer with a pair of motorcycle handlebars on her back shoots laser beams from her mouth! You have to laugh. Midnight Eye Goku the anime is something of an origin story. We never learn who exactly implants Goku with his super-computer leaving the threads dangling for the then-ongoing manga serial. Anime like this were often created solely to draw new readers to such serials but unfortunately non-Japanese fans were out of luck since none of Terasawa's works have been released in English as yet. Yoshiaki Kawajiri continued fusing film noir with cyberpunk and Asian folklore in his next anime opus, Cyber City Oedo 808 (1990).

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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