Ever wonder what would happen if the anime heroes of Cyborg 009 fought immortal, evil versions of the X-Men? Cyborg009: Call of Justice is pretty much that.
The first film of the new Cyborg 009 trilogy, Cyborg009: Call of Justice: Chapter 1, premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival this past Wednesday. We at Anime Now! were on hand to check out this newest iteration in an anime franchise fifty years in the making.
Taking place several years after the events of 2012’s 009 Re:Cyborg, Call of Justice: Chapter 1 sees our heroes living a quiet life in isolation, enjoying their retirement and anonymity after decades spent saving the world. A new mecha-using UN task force has been assembled (one supposedly a match for the nine cyborgs) and now acts as the world’s guardians. The world appears to no longer need our heroes.
Yet, their peaceful life is broken by the arrival of a journalist carrying proof of a group of superpowered immortals ruling the world from the shadows–superpowered immortals which soon show up to destroy the proof and rid themselves of the pesky journalist once and for all. Not willing to let an innocent be murdered in their living room, the Cyborgs once again head out to fight, getting involved in a conflict that spans centuries.
When it comes down to it, the villains of Call of Justice: Chapter 1 are one part illuminati and one part Marvel’s X-Men. The first villain in the film is basically Storm (if she were an Texan man) with the second being Jean Grey (if she were an unassuming male school teacher). Moreover, thanks to their immortality, what we get are villains that have centuries of familiarity with their superpowers–allowing them to be used in creative ways.
Of course, our heroes aren’t exactly slouches in superpowers or experience, so what we get are fight scenes that are a matter of brains more than simple battles of who has the strongest power. This setup also gives each character more than a few chances to take the spotlight and show what they can really do alone–as well as what they can do as a unified team.
Yet while the new baddies are immensely powerful, but their flaw is obvious from the start: their arrogance. The 00 cyborgs don’t want to fight–they’d gladly leave this whole conspiracy to the UN special forces to deal with even after being attacked the first time. They’re happy to be out of the game and living the normal life they were denied for so long. But as the mutant illuminati brings more and more down upon the cyborgs, it only backs our heroes into a corner where they must fight or be destroyed.
The addition of the mutants also allows for a longtime potential plot hole to be turned into an avenue for character growth and lore-building. Each of the nine cyborgs has a super power: rocket-powered legs, super hearing and vision, built in guns/missile launchers, super strength, fire breath, shapeshifting, super speed, and …psychic powers.
One of these things is clearly not like the others.
Cyborgs 002 through 009 have powers that are technology-based. Only Ivan, Cyborg 001, has a power that doesn’t come from being part machine. The official backstory states that his powers come from his father performing brain experiments on him as an infant. Call of Justice: Chapter 1 hints at the idea that, perhaps, his father’s experiments were all for naught and the truth is that Ivan may not be a cyborg, but rather a mutant.
This sets up Ivan as the key character in this battle between Cyborgs and mutants–he is truly a child of two worlds and maybe even the only possibility for peace between the two groups. Moreover, giving the character any potential split loyalties takes the most powerful piece the heroes have out of play–adding both danger and drama to the script.
Overall, the first film of Cyborg009: Call of Justice is a superhero spy thriller where are heroes are dragged out of retirement only to enter a world of conspiracy where everyone they meet could be the pawn of the enemies that hunt them. It serves to set up both a credible threat to our heroes while at the same time making it a personal story about the most powerful and, yet, powerless member of the team. With this solid set up out of the way, I can’t help but be excited for seeing how the story goes over the next two films.
Cyborg009: Call of Justice: Chapter 1 will be released in Japanese theaters on November 25, 2016. There is currently no word on a Western release.