Reviewby Christopher Macdonald
Goku II: Midnight Eye
Goku, the lone wolf private detective is back, contracted by Yoshiko, a mysterious, beautiful and very afraid woman, to find and save her brother, Ryu. Will Goku be able to protect Yoshiko from her step father's soldiers long enough to find her brother? Meanwhile Ryu, the unfortunate subject of a military experiment gone bad, leaves a trail of bodies behind him and has no intention of being found or saved by anyone. Will Goku have to kill the man he is supposed to save? Will even his omniscient cybernetic eye and sceptre be enough to help him defeat this indestructible killing machine?
Goku: Midnight Eye was far from my favorite Anime, and Goku II: Midnight Eye is not that much better. But it is somewhat better, and both volumes of this series do have their strong points.
For starters, for a movie produced in 1989 Goku II's animation is exceptional, and remains to this day quite good, superior in fact to of the many OVAs and TV series released in 1999 and 2000, nothing less than what you would expect from Madhouse. Akira Yamakawa deserves a commendation for the attention to detail in the various scenes and the animation which is exceptionally smooth. On the other hand, as can be expected of a 15 year old production, the male character designs are quite dated and appear quite drab when compared with more recent productions, the female characters on the other hand are particularly pleasing to look at if somewhat unoriginal.
The script is the big weakness of both movies, even if the viewer is able to suspend his disbelief regarding a cybernetic eye which allows it's bearer to control every computer on the plant, making him effectively omniscient as well as omnipotent it is hard to understand the logic behind having this person confront his opponents one on one where his advantages are significantly reduced (Why not just blast them from orbit?). Beyond this, the Goku II script does hold together somewhat better than the original and is somewhat more believable. On the other hand, it lacks some of the poignancy of the original.
The soundtrack, which is almost as good as the animation, manages to stand up to the test if time and is as effective today as it was in 1989. The only piece of music that shows its age in any way is the main theme, which is played during the credits, but remains good nonetheless. The music producer, Tara Hosoi, did a great job of selecting music for the various moods of the movie, quiet, poignant, or exciting, depending what was needed.
I wasn't, on the other hand, quite as pleased with the other audio aspects of this feature. Throughout the entire movie there is a fair amount of static, more than is typical of VHS, and it does detract from the audio quality of the entire film, especially if played at higher volumes. The English dubbing job was mediocre, the voice actors sound like they are quite capable but lacking direction; the emotion in their voices rings true, if at the wrong moments. Goku is supposed to be the calm, collected sort of individual who is rarely fazed, and less often excited, the dub however made him sound more like an emotionless drone on valium.
As can be expected from a poorly written action flick, character development is non-existent; everyone is quite simply typical and stereotyped. The main antagonist is your typical megalomaniac armed forces general (he even laughs like one), Yoshiko is a typically useless woman good for sex, crying and running away from danger in high healed shoes. And Goku, Goku's monologues fill the entire film, but the only 2 sentences that develop his character to any degree are uttered at the very end of the film.
Goku II is for an evening when you want a typical action flick, as long as you want simple characters, blood and sex and of course action then Goku II might just be what you want to watch.
Addendum: Shortly after first posting this review it was pointed out to me that the subbed version of Goku II is much better than the english dub. Although the dubbed version does not deviate
from the script, I did prefer the subbed simply because it meant not having to listen to the very poor English Dub. For slightly better experience, I would recommend watching the subbed version.
Overall (dub) : C
Overall (sub) : C+
+ Superb Animation, good looking women.
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