Cosmo Police Justy
Justy Kaizard is an elite psychic policeman, having taken on countless criminal "espers" in the pursuit of justice. One such criminal was Magnum Vega, whose young daughter, Astalis, witnessed the takedown ... and nearly lost herself in a psychic rage. Justy takes it upon himself to raise Astalis as his own little sister out of a sense of duty and honor -- but with criminals all too willing to take advantage of this weakness, could this act of compassion prove the great Justy's undoing?
Justy is sort of an oddity for an 80s one-shot, because in an age where OVAs were known for pushing the boundaries of animation, violent content, and at times good taste, this opts for a surprisingly conventional and oddly shock-value-free experience, albeit one surprisingly well animated for its time.
Believe it or not, there was a period when Studio Pierrot actually had decent animation values for its era, and Justy is a product of that time. There are a few psychic action scenes that still look pretty good, and Justy himself always manages to look pretty cool while dispatching the villains (who, hilariously, always look like villains). The character art and designs here are somewhat trendsetting; what you see here will essentially go on to repeat itself for something like the next decade, for better or worse. However, unusually for an OVA, the violence is mysteriously bloodless - people are shot in the head and torn in half without even the slightest hint of red paint ever being used, a strange contrast to Fight! Iczer-One and Megazone 23: Part I which would come out in the same year.
One of the things people notice immediately is the disconnect between the infantile, clumsy behavior of Astalis and her young adult body, which would seem to presage the moe trend that is all the rage today (and parodied immensely as early as Project A-ko). In this case, though, it's actually justified, as Astalis is mentally five years old, with a body prematurely aged to that of a young woman due to massive psychological trauma triggering her psychic powers to turn her into something of a woobie berserker. The fact that Astalis doesn't have much fine control of her body, much less her psychic abilities, is actually a major plot point, albeit one seemingly lost upon those giving this film a mere once-over.
It's nice to see a lot of the storyline and characterization actually make sense in context, which means that when it suddenly doesn't, the effect is horribly jarring. The problem here is that we have an established narrative from the manga that is being crammed into under forty-five minutes of footage, which would work with a skilled director, but doesn't work with the one we actually have: I've just excoriated the late Motosuke Takahashi for his directorial work on Harbor Light Story in a recent review and sadly the same is true here, what with several wasted scenes of Astalis prancing around clumsily to horrible synthesizer tracks in a very transparent attempt to make what has happened to her seem even more tragic than it really is, as if we really need multiple motivational synthpop montages to hammer the point home that she's about to be manipulated into doing something horrible to the man selflessly taking care of her. What's worse is that despite having enough content for a full 13-episode TV series being crammed into a single OVA, the director manages to pace this so slowly, it actually drags at times, something of a strange feat. It's clear that Takahashi is a far better animator than he is a storyteller; thankfully, the animation half holds up well enough (for its time) and the storytelling half is based on a good enough story to not be complete garbage.
There obviously is no English dub since this has never been licensed (ostensibly due to exorbitant licensing costs and low demand - note that as of this review (2013) there is no DVD or BluRay release for this title even in Japan!); what we do get to listen to is perfectly serviceable work by a voice cast including Miina Tominaga (just coming off her role as the title character of Persia, the Magic Fairy) as Astalis, and Kazuhiko Inoue (destined to be another great older brother figure as Kakashi Hatake in Naruto) as the titular Justy, who gets to be one of the first anime characters ever to loudly and fervently proclaim just how far he's willing to kick someone's ass in the name of his beloved little sister. The rest of the cast is relegated to cameos, which is odd given their importance in the manga; notably, we don't get to see much of Justy's "older sister" Jelna or his partner, Bolbar.
It's obvious from the get-go that Justy is going to win the day (because even telepathic communal criminal espers are going to lose badly to someone this awesome), but despite the cliches and the bad synth soundtrack and the horrible direction and the occasionally embarrassing bits with Astalis squealing over her "onii-chan", this is actually a pretty watchable film, especially if you dig the 80s.
Moreover, Justin Sevakis over at Anime News Network is absolutely right about the Miki Asakura pop ballad ("Kodoku no Senshi") that caps this film: for us children of the 80s, Justy is totally worth watching for that alone.
Though marred by bad directorial choices and at-times dated visuals, Justy's core story remains generally watchable and enjoyable for those seeking retro sci-fi. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: There is a hijacking and some of the passengers put in danger include children; two of the passengers are shown being killed by the hijackers, and one is shot in the head onscreen. Most of the violence is in the form of psychic combat; one bad guy has the top half of his body disintegrated. The violence is, however, oddly bloodless. While Astalis does have her clothes torn in a couple scenes, she's never shown nude or even partially so; there is no sexual content to speak of in this film. This should be fine for younger teens and above, though I doubt any but the most patient under-18s would be able to sit through this due to its extreme age.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital source, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Cosmo Police Justy © 1985 Tsuguo Okazaki / Studio Pierrot
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