Grey: Digital Target Anime Review
GREY (グレイ) デジタル・ターゲット
GREY: Dejitaru Taagetto
Grey: Digital Target
US Release By
Post-Apocalyptic Sci-Fi War
In the post-apocalyptic wasteland that is Earth, people struggle to survive in a society run by a vast computer. The greatest status attainable is that of Citizenship; to reach this goal, one must rise through the ranks by killing as many 'troopers' (other people) as possible. Your score is racked by the computer and your credits tallied.
One soldier in particular is doing very well, earning a reputation as "The Grey Death". When he joins up with a few other teammates for a mission, he and a gutsy woman named Nova uncover the secret behind the super-computer controlling the 'kill/credit' system, Big Mama. Along the way they meet the Resistance, a group of rebels also intent on destroying Big Mama, and who also have hidden agendas.
Now drawn into a plot far beyond escape, Grey and Nova must decide what to sacrifice for the sake of humanity and survival.
'Grey' is dark, nihilistic and littered with despair and a feeling of hopelessness. In a society that revolves around rewarding people for killing others, the message is rather blatantly about the pointlessness of war, but it is an interesting film nonetheless.
The characters are all survivors, doing whatever they can to stay alive. They are tough and ruthless, but each have their brief moments where their humanity shows through--Grey in particular carries the burden of his girlfriend's rape and death at the hands of troopers. Though the characters may not exactly be sympathetic, it is interesting to see these people work through their hopeless situation, and are given to wonder what they might have become had their future been different.
The animation is very dated. 'Grey' was made in 1987, and it tends to show--this is a hindrance in places, especially the many action scenes, but it can be forgiven.
The action scenes in particular are fairly well done, with little of the 'typical' anime exaggeration despite the various bizarre mecha that roam the wasteland. Even while firing laser beams and such, 'Grey' pulls no punches--bodies can be seen twisting apart in the flame of an exploding grenade, there is a close-up of a man being shot in the face, and corpses abound. There are lots of explosions. These scenes tastefully portray the nihilism of war without going into Monty Python blood sprays, and seem desperate rather than adrenaline pumping (though the animation does serve to water these scenes down sometimes).
In short, 'Grey' is an excellent sci-fi piece that seems to borrow on a lot of Western science fiction concepts and then foretells others (The Matrix). Not only does it carry out its message of 'war is bad' effectively, but it also goes the extra length to compare war to one big computer game; a life spent warring is like those games that contain endlessly spawning opponents, whom you must defeat in order to advance to "the next level". Unfortunately, there is never any end in sight.
And, indeed, 'Grey' portrays this bleak outlook perfectly.
NOTE: Be sure to watch until the end of the credits. One of the most important scenes is there for some reason.
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Notes and Trivia
Based on a manga story by Yoshihisa Tagami, which is also available from VIZ.
US DVD Review
None exists as of this writing.
Lots of fairly realistic violence and one sex scene.
Violence: 3 - Close-up of a guy shot in the face, explosions, corpses.
Nudity: 3 - Nova walks around with no shirt for a while, sex scene.
Sex/Mature Themes: 3 - Non-explicit but fairly lengthy sex scene.
Language: 1 - I don't remember anything too bad. Probably the "s-word."