Anime: Strait Jacket
Slowly, but surely, I’m starting to get my head around this genre. As always though I staunchly defend my position as ‘not an anime guy’. Although, I want to be clear that I’m not making that claim to dismiss the genre in any way. My intention is to let anyone careless enough to find themselves reading this — or any of the reviews that I’ve done of anime titles — that my take is that of, someone who remains at an arm’s length from the anime scene.
One aspect that I’ve struggled with regarding most anime, is that the majority (that I’ve seen) have contained some fairly predictable elements. It’s almost as though there’s a big yellow and black book out there, titled “The Dummies Guide to Writing Anime”, which contains a set of binding rules that all anime/manga writers must adhere to.
In the past I’ve mostly enjoyed the anime titles which break those rules, or at least bend them so dramatically as to appear to have broken them (Yes Death Note, I’m looking at you!), Now though, I’m starting to see that some writers are able to be creative within those rules. STRAIT JACKET is one title that manages to play by the book, but think — at least a little — outside of the box.
Required Anime Ingredient (RAI) No.1: Set in an alternate present or future: CHECK!
There’s always some whacky / cataclysmic / reality-bending event which occurred at some point prior to the point at which we pick up the story. This is mostly used as a vehicle to explain why things are different to our own world. Usually it’s the discovery of some kind of new technology, sometimes it’s some inexplicable event that we can only hope will become explicable during the course of the story. Other times we’re not even given an explanation as to why things are different… they just are. Strait Jacket gives us a full explanation and really, it’s a pretty cool one!
In the year 1899 tangible proof was discovered that magic / sorcery existed and could be used for practical purposes. SInce then it has be adopted by every industry and permeated every aspect of life. As one can imagine, no field was more interested in refining such abilities than the military. However a new menace arose as a result of the use of magic: Demons!
Every time a human uses magic, they open themselves up to the risk of demon possession. So special protection / containment measures are used to reduce the risks involved. Which brings us to RAI No.2
Giant Robots or High-Tech Armor: CHECK!
Mold Armor (nick named Strait Jackets) are worn by those practicing magic. When functioning correctly they allow the user to perform procedures, with the assistance of magic, without fear of demon possession. However, should the suit fail — or say, be sabotaged — the user may be overcome by the desire to kill all those around them. There is no rescue from possession, the human is all but gone once the demon takes hold. They become incredibly powerful and hideously deformed. The only thing that can stop them is RAI No.3 and RAI No.4
Bureaucracy and the Anti-hero who bucks the system: CHECK and CHECK!
The Sorcery Management Bureau police all those who use magic, and if need be will send special teams of ‘Tactical Sorcerers’ in to contain (read: kill) any instances of demon possession. However, a terrorist group known as the Ottoman Organization have begun tampering with people’s Mold suits. As a result, the increasing number of possession cases has the Bureau’s Tactical Sorcerers stretched thin and are forced to resort to using an unlicensed Sorcerer and damaged soul, by the name of Rayotte Steinberg.
I wont continue to break down Strait Jacket, and I don’t mean to suggest that there isn’t anything interesting to see here, there is! And that’s the point. Despite adhering to these well trodden rules, Strait Jacket is very much original and pretty cool to boot! It’s not earth shattering by any means, think of it more as an action film — with a sarcastic lead — than high drama. [source]