Jmovie Review: Aquarian Age
English title: Aquarian Age: The Movie
Japanese Release: 2008
US Release: April 2011 by Eastern Star
Cast: Sakurada Dori, Tochihara Rakuto, Uehara Takuya, Kimura Keita, Fuji Toshikiyo, Nagasawa Nao, Ayano Go, Horiuchi Masami
Based on the manga series Aquarian Age: Juvenile Orion by Sakurako Gokurakuin
Theme song: “Mirror Ball” by Alice Nine
Synopsis: Kaname Kusakabe thought he was just another teenage boy, but it turns out he’s something other than human and about to be caught up in a war he knew nothing of that will put him at odds with his best friend Itsuki who is also more than he seems.
I was excited when I found out about this movie last year. Since I loved the manga Juvenile Orion, I really looked forward to seeing the movie version. While not bad, I was sadly disappointed. The biggest disappointments being that Kirihara Mana does not exist and the plot did not follow the manga at all.
Well, I don’t think there is too much of a plot, but here goes. There is an attack in a club. The psychic factions believe the Darklores are behind it as “revenge” and plan on hunting down and killing all the darklores they possibly can. Enter 4 teenagers and a priest into the mix.
Kusakabe Kaname has no idea that he is, in fact, a darklore. After he passes out and is taken to a hospital, he is approached by a young woman named Maya who hopes to have Kusakabe agree to undergo research as his genetic code is unique. Kusakabe’s friend Itsuki Naoya warns him away from getting involved in anything. As it turns out, Naoya is a psychic and part of an organization who hunts and kills the darklores. Somehow all these people come together. Why, I don’t know.
The movie basically revolves around Kusakabe learning the truth about his heritage from Maya and the doctor. Now, that doctor is weird. No one knows about these psychic factions, except for the factions of course, so how can this researcher know so much about them? Moreover, how can he find willing specimens to help him further his study into these ancient cultures? They never really explain this. Sure, the doctor can become curious after finding unusual DNA, but to know down to a T what the DNA of a Darklore or an Eraser is, seems odd and is never explained outright.
A big deviation from the manga is E.G.O. (Itsuki’s faction) seems to be made up completely of males. E.G.O. is a female dominated faction. Itsuki’s mom is quite a strong female character who constantly pushes and chides Itsuki. It was weird to see her missing and to have 3 males take her place.
Another problem comes with Amou Tsukasa and Nakaura Tomonori. Their relationship is not really explained at all. Nakaura confesses that he found Tsukasa and took him in because he was injured. Did these injuries occur before Amou is attacked at the beginning of the movie? Or is Nakaura talking about the injuries Amou gets from the beginning? When Amou stumbles into the church where Nakaura is praying, Nakaura turns and says that he was worried about Tsukasa, implying they have known each other already.
In the movie, Amou still has amnesia, but he does not go to school with Itsuki, Shiba, and Kusakabe like in the manga. Also, Nakaura doesn’t teach at the school the boys attend. There is no connection beyond the attack and the mysterious doctor. And boy does that doctor get more mysterious as the movie progresses.
Shiba Isshin is Kusakabe’s senpai and part of the basketball club. So that stays pretty true to the manga. Him not liking Itsuki bugging Kusakabe is pretty accurate as well. And like the manga, Shiba gets little time devoted to him, however, his character in the manga has more depth than his character in this movie. We don’t see him get much screen time and what little he does, doesn’t really forward any character development.
What little we do find out is that he is part of a faction of psychics. Whether or not he himself has any powers remains to be seen. For whatever reason, his father and him have severed all ties with his sister and mother. I don’t know why, this is never explained. What is obvious is that Shiba cares a lot about his older sister and does not like his father’s attitude to severing their relationship. I do like how Shiba runs to the research lab where Maya works (for that mysterious doctor) and tries to find her after she goes missing.
The movie itself isn’t wholly bad. It is more explanation, followed by some random moments pieced together. I like how Kusakabe’s and Itsuki’s friendship is deepened and developed, but I swear some of the dialogue gets sticky as they start talking, but the audience is unaware of just what situations they are talking about. With all that has been going on and all the stuff getting explained,why couldn’t they explain some other situations better or at least show flashback scenes or have some other references to what these boys are talking about?
The end of the move becomes problematic as it is not an end. It is a beginning. Why? Shiba, Amou, Kusakabe, Nakaura, and Itsuki all come together at the research lab. Itsuki and Kusakabe because they had premonitions, Nakaura to find the missing Amou, Amou to find out what is wrong with him, and Shiba to find his sister. Once there, they run into an assistant who turns out to be a darklore, like Kusakabe. This person is also behind the attack on Amou at the beginning of the movie. And then it just ends. Kind of like how Mortal Kombat ends with the gang getting ready to take on the emperor, Aquarian Age ends with these five people facing off against the darklore.
Why the darklore is there, what he has against Amou, why he attacked Shiba’s sister, and just what is his relationship with the doctor is unknown. It doesn’t get clarified and leaves the viewer hanging, wanting to know exactly what is going on.
I dislike the fact that there are more questions and no answers. I especially want to know if the doctor is a darklore like his assistant. Near the end of the movie when Amou goes back to the hospital of his own volition, the doctor says he can’t believe his luck at getting his “enemy” here, and such a good specimen at that. Apparently Amou has powers they did not imagine. However, no powers are ever really displayed in this movie beyond the assistant darklore’s and Itsuki’s premonitions, so we are left to guess just what kind of powers these psychics have, which in and of itself is annoying.
There is no second movie to my knowledge and with all the open-endedness and unexplained questions in this one, a sequel might help.