Review

by Casey Brienza, Nov 22nd 2008

Strait Jacket

DVD

Synopsis:
Strait Jacket DVD
Imagine a world where advanced science and sorcery coexist. Unfortunately, where there is great power to do good, there is even greater risk, and the use of magic comes at terrible cost: Magic use turns humans into bloodthirsty, destructive demons. To safeguard against this eventuality, magic users wear special armor—armor which sometimes fails. Society's last resort should a magic user's armor fail are the, government-employed tactical sorcerists, colloquially called “Strait Jackets.” Lately, there has been a disastrous uptick in the number of demon attacks, forcing the Sorcery Management Bureau to call upon assistance of the rogue Strait Jacket Leiot Steinberg and the mysterious child that accompanies him. Can Leiot stop the demons and figure out what is causing the outbreak? Or will he just end up a demon himself?
Review:

“What do sinners want?” It is a question this anime poses but never directly answers. You can, however, be assured of one thing after suffering through the interminable hour and a quarter run time of Strait Jacket: What sinners want emphatically isn't pointless anime like this one, and anime fans are unlikely to want it either.

The problems begin with the story. While the premise of the story is okay—your usual brand of anime weirdness—the plot is a veritable embarrassment. Strait Jacket, for the record, is not a self-contained animated feature film. It's just an OVA that mines the original source material, an ongoing light novel series by Ichiro Sakaki (Scrapped Princess), for a subplot or two. Leiot fights a bunch of demons, angsts a number of times about past misdeeds, and discovers a deep, dark conspiracy. Cue perfunctory scare sequences and gross out shots. After one final, climatic battle, he is redeemed and becomes a gainfully employed, legit Strait Jacket once more, friendly females in tow. The end. Woo hoo.

Animation quality is equally uninspired, equivalent to most animated television series. Designs are vaguely cool in steampunk fashion but do not go anywhere more popular series such as Fullmetal Alchemist have not already trail-blazed before. And they are only moderately successful in distracting viewers from the lack of actual animation. The bad guys, meanwhile, are all one-dimensional monstrosities that like yelling the same nonsensical phrases over and over again while shedding large volumes of blood and wreaking maximum collateral damage. Though, apparently, they do occasionally stop to rape women and have morose but cute little kids like the four-eyed Cappeltetta. We do not get to see anything so x-rated happen, though. More's the pity.

And if watching painfully mediocre anime with a pointless excuse for a plot were not bad enough, the soundtrack has got to be even worse. Turgid, predictable orchestral themes do nothing to improve matters, and the voice actors seem to being having trouble convincing themselves that Strait Jacket is worth the time of day, never mind their audiences' ears. The Japanese voice actors at least make an admirable go of it, though you will hear nothing here that you have not heard ten thousand times before accompanying more worthy endeavors. The English voice actors, on the other hand, just sound like they are suffering—and not because some demon is supposed to be ripping their characters limb from limb! All of the actors deliver their lines in a precisely pronounced yet stilted monotone that is so deliberate and slow that it makes the anime feel three times as long. Which is obviously not a good thing. Let's not even start on how stupid the demons sound in both languages.

Needless to say, this DVD comes with absolutely no extras whatsoever. That is, unless you count the holographic slipcover, which, is blatantly trying to compensate for something. Strait Jacket does not deserve the treatment, so do not be fooled into buying it by how it looks on the store rack. The lack of extras is just as well though, since it's darn difficult to imagine what extras anyone could bring themselves to watch after the tiresome main feature. Do you really want to know how it was made? Doubtful, since it should never have been made at all. Do you really want to know what the creators and/or voice actors have to say about the experience of its production? Absolutely not! One has trouble believing they would have anything complimentary—let alone vaguely entertaining or remotely enlightening—to say anyway.

In any case, the answer to the question, “What do sinners want?” is actually quite simple: Sinners want forgiveness. Unfortunately for the creators of Strait Jacket, forgiveness for this abomination probably will not be forthcoming from very many fandom quarters. Unless you are a huge fan of the original novels and must partake of every spin-off of the franchise, no matter how poorly produced, spare yourself the trouble and visit an insane asylum instead. You will have waaaay more fun with the straitjackets you find there than the ones you will find in this DVD.

Grade:
Production Info:
Overall (dub) : D+
Overall (sub) : C-
Story : D+
Animation : B-
Art : B-
Music : C+

+ Vaguely entertaining if perchance you have never watched Japanese anime before...
But otherwise, guaranteed you have seen in everything done far better elsewhere.

Director:Shinji Ushiro
Series Composition:Ichiro Sakaki
Screenplay:Ichiro Sakaki
Music:Takeshi Yanagawa
Original creator:Ichiro Sakaki
Original Character Design:Yoh Fujishiro
Character Design:Yoshinori Yumoto
Mechanical design:
Hideki Fukushima
Rei Nakahara
Sound Director:Takahiro Enomoto
Director of Photography:Takeshi Kuchiba

Full encyclopedia details about
Strait Jacket (OAV)

Release information about
Strait Jacket (DVD)

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