With the coronavirus pandemic cancelling virtually everything, including movie releases, I had to scout Netflix for something to review. Fortunately, it wasn’t a difficult feat, as Netflix always has new releases, but sometimes those new releases aren’t too great…
Altered Carbon: Resleeved is a Japanese animated film which is based off a TV show, which is based off a book. Unlike the movie, the TV show — Altered Carbon — is actually an American live action series. It’s quite a change, but it’s an interesting way to give the story more representation. If only said story left a lasting impression, but we’ll get to that.
The movie takes place in between seasons one and two, but stands on its own as it expands on the story’s universe. Though it felt like I needed to have seen season one to understand our protagonist in order to care for him.
…I didn’t really care for him.
Our protagonist is Takeshi Kovacs, a former solider turned investigator who has to protect a girl from danger, while at the same time, investigate the murder of a yakuza boss. The premise is set in the distant future where consciousness can be transferred into a different body, essentially making anyone immortal until the stack — a chip embedded into their spine that carries their consciousness — is destroyed.
Resleeved is directed by Takeru Nakajima and Yoshiyuki Okada, who have both worked on video games in the past — and it shows considering that the movie looks a lot like a video game. They also never worked on movies in the past either…and that shows too.
The plot is rather bland and predictable. Even the setting isn’t that imaginative. It takes place on a planet called Latimar in a generic futuristic city that we’ve seen in movies like Blade Runner and The Fifth Element. There’s no reason for this to be on a different planet except for the fact that one character keeps insisting that she needs to leave it.
Speaking of characters…I already mentioned Takeshi, and, honestly he doesn’t have much going for him. He’s your typical tough guy who’s reluctant to help a kid but grows to like said kid. He’s discount Geralt from The Witcher series.
If there’s one good thing to say about him…I suppose his voice actor is good, both in Japanese and English. Oh, yeah, since the movie’s a Japanese anime film, it has both a Japanese version with English subtitles, and an English version. I listened to the Japanese version, but the few instances I watched in English were fine.
Takeshi is voiced by Tatsuhisa Suzuki, and he does do a fine job. Another character is Holly Tagram — the girl Takeshi has to protect — voiced by Ayaka Asai, she also does fine. I think the best is Rina Satou who voices Reileen Kawahara. Probably coz Reileen’s the closest we got to a cool character.
Reileen is from a special force unit called CTAC. She partners up with Takeshi, although with reluctance since they have different goals. But soon enough they put aside their differences and become friends..ish. Actually they don’t really bond that much. Though they do make a good fighting team. Reileen uses both a sword and gun, and at one point she stabs a guy through the throat. It’s pretty awesome actually. Movie should’ve been about her to be honest.
Then we got Holly, who is a skilled tattoo artist — which is important for the story — and can destroy a stack without extracting it from the person’s spine. That’s pretty cool and all, but she’s also a bit bland personality wise. Maybe if she had more bonding scenes with discount Geralt I would’ve liked her more.
Even though we have a couple of female leads, there’s a bit of women being objectified in the film. During the opening where we get shots of the futuristic city, there’s a hologram of a nearly naked woman dancing with boobs out for all to see. Then after that, we got Holly running through a rave filled with dozens of nearly naked men and woman.
This goes on for some time, and during this time, Takeshi is gaining a new body. It makes sense for the story to show how people are ‘reborn’, and I suppose we’re seeing so much exposure from both men and woman to show how perfect their futuristic bodies are, but it’s still a bit much.
Now about the animation…it’s not the worst, but it does take some time to get used to. It also makes me think I’m going to play a Telltale video game at any second. Like, look at this guy:
He looks like he wants to sell me something, or ask if I need help during my tutorial. Y’know, I think this would’ve worked better as a video game, at least it would’ve been more entertaining.
The movie’s rated TV-MA so there’s a lot of violence. At one moment someone gets sliced in half. So, yeah, definitely don’t have your kid watching this just because it’s animated. Besides, they might get bored since the only exciting thing is the action.
As far as diversity goes, we got a full Japanese cast voicing the characters, which is good. Despite it taking place on another planet, the city is pretty much a futuristic Japanese city. So, watching it in Japanese makes more sense, unless you don’t like reading subtitles.
But on the other hand, this is a different planet, in which case it’s not exactly Japan. So technically speaking, the characters wouldn’t be Japanese, so really it doesn’t matter if you do watch it in Japanese or not. But most of them have Japanese names and do partake in Japanese customs so…I dunno, it’s weird.
And considering that people can switch to different bodies since bodies are simply vessels to store stacks in this universe, we don’t know what anyone’s true ethnicity is. So, yeah, it’s confusing and I’ll just leave it as that.
Overall, Altered Carbon: Resleeved is pretty “meh.” It’s cool and all that it takes a different approach from the TV show to make it animated rather than live action, but it doesn’t help that the animation looks like something from a video game. It runs around 75 minutes, yet the plot drags. The story is something we’ve seen before in other science fiction ones, so nothing really stands out.
If you want to watch a better Japanese animated movie, check out Ghost in the Shell, Akira, or any of the Studio Ghibli films.
Originally published by Lauren Massuda on March 22, 2020.