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1 Aug 2012

SPEC: Heaven

SPEC the movie is a perfect live action anime take on Heroes, as imagined by say the creators of Evangelion.

Original Title: 劇場版 SPEC ~天~

Director: Yukihiko Tsutsumi

Language: Japanese

Screenplay: Yumie Nishiogi

Cast: Erika Toda, Ryo Kase, Atsushi Ito, Saki Fukuda, Chiaki Kuriyama, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Kippei Shiina, Raita Ryu

Aside from the very niche sentai genre, it is a rule that no matter how zany or bizarre a Japanese science fiction series, it takes place more or less in the real world. A surgeon may develop telekinesis, a detective may be endowed with clairvoyant powers, a teenager may possess a book of death that kills anyone whose name is written on it — but these protagonists are the aberrations in an otherwise normal universe populated by very normal human beings with their very mundane agendas.

Then there is SPEC: Heaven. As its title suggests, the world faces an epidemic of spontaneously occurring mutants who develop special, almost metahuman powers. The only realistic upshot of that is an increase in crime, violence, and other shenanigans perpetuated by some upstarts who desire a social position commensurate with their superior abilities. The rest of the universe though is not so normal. There is a supernatural conspiracy related to the prophecies of the Lady of Fatima, enacted by a bishonen who might well be the incarnation of Walter Benjamin's Angelus Novus, a national conspiracy where a shadowy organisation that runs Japan is involved in assassinating the mutants, and a powerless and inept anti-mutant task force who curiously enough, manages to solve all the cases brought before it — thanks to an assortment of cartoonish misfits with bizarre hobbies and no social skills. And of course, the villains are appropriately even more bizarre than this. One of them happens to be the actor Atsushi Ito, played by Atsushi Ito himself.

If ever the creators of Neon Genesis Evangelion ever decide to make a live action drama series and a feature film, it might end up looking very much like SPEC: Heaven. From the misappropriation and cross-fertilisation of Catholic imagery and Kabbalist philosophy to the larger-than-life battle for the planet to the concatenation of simultaneous shadowy conspiracies to stock character types, everything about SPEC: Heaven screams classic sci-fi anime (and more precisely, of the surreal Evangelion and FLCL variety) brought to a live action canvass.

The result is an anarchic, highly nonsensical, and entertaining spectacle that at two hours, really overloads the senses and leaves you laughing silly — if you're a big anime fan.

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