The Humanoid Anime Review
Za Hyuumanoido - Hiai no Wakusei Rezaria
The Humanoid - Rezaria, Planet of Sorrow
US Release By
What's In It
- Fistfights (the robot kicks butt!)
- Super Technology
- Space Ships (the one cool thing in the whole movie)
- Sexy Robots
- Airborne Chases
- Violence: 2 (moderate)
- Nudity: 1 (mild)
- Sex: 1 (mild)
- Language: 1 (mild)
In the distant future, a powerful race known as the Megalosians all but destroyed their own kind in a war; their emperor fled to the planet Lazeria, where he later died. His daughter, Princess Ignasia, now lives on this quiet planet with a small community of Megalosians and few human researchers--Dr. Watson, his daughter Sheri, and the humanoid robot Antoinette. This quiet life changes when a routine supply mission piloted by Alan, a freighter captain, and Eric, Sheri's boyfriend, ends up crash landed on the planet, and then ambushed by someone not interested in visitors. While trying to get to the bottom of who might be planning to use the lost technology on Lazeria for nefarious purposes, Eric and his girlfriend Sheri are also going to get to teach Antoinette, a humanoid robot built by Dr. Watson, a little of what human relationships are all about.
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Take a rudimentary sci-fi story and pair it with a hurried 45-minute run time, weak directing, uninteresting storytelling, shallow characters, and generally poor visuals, and you've got anime so mediocre it's not even particularly worth making fun of. That's not all; the visuals are impressively inconsistent swinging between dated-but-decent and flat-out terrible, the music is annoying, and even the Japanese acting is overblown. The only high points are a couple of surprisingly good action scenes and that it's over mercifully quickly.
The concept isn't totally devoid of potential, but the execution is. Unless you're really desperate for material to heckle or want to have a field day analyzing how not to make a movie, don't waste your time.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
I'm always on the lookout for old anime good enough to surprise me--from classics like Venus Wars to little-known gems like They Were 11. The Humanoid is not in either of those categories. It is, rather, among the worst anime I've had the dubious privilege of seeing. The sad part is, it's not even Go Nagai bad--it's not offensive, or terribly ugly, or incredibly cheesy. Just unengaging, very poorly made, and for the most part flat-out boring. That's all you need to know to avoid it, but for the curious, here's the lowdown.
The story is rudimentary sci-fi stuff involving some bad people trying to conquer something, some innocent good people trying to stop them, and a robot learning to be human. Take that less-than-stellar foundation and pair it with a hurried 45-minute run time, weak directing, uninteresting storytelling, shallow characters, and generally poor visuals, and you've got anime so mediocre it's not even particularly worth making fun of.
There are only three positive things about The Humanoid worth mentioning:
- It's over mercifully quickly.
- The main characters are all strangely obsessed with coffee (it seems to be some sort of metaphor).
- There are a couple of decent action scenes, including a surprisingly engaging treetop air chase.
And no, there's nowhere near enough of #3 to be worth sitting through the rest for.
The visuals are impressively inconsistent. Paired with the two dated-but-relatively-cool action sequences is a whole bunch of very crude animation--awkward, choppy, and occasionally so bad it looks downright strange. Elsewhere, the heroes' ship is a huge craft drawn with a nice sense of scale, but it's paired with bland background art and scenes with so little sense of space that the characters' actions don't even make sense; I kept thinking, "Um... why is nobody moving again?" And the character designs run from the 1930s-sci-fi-styled, metallic-sexy and relatively realistic-looking Antoinette to characters that are so generic they probably didn't even need a character designer (then there's Sheri, whose eyes are positively immense). Some parts might be interesting if you're really looking, but basically it's very, very ugly.
The acting in Japanese is overblown, but at least it's not painful. The exception is veteran Sakakibara Yoshiko, who gives Antoinette a mature, pleasant voice. The music consists of bad '80s-era J-pop that sounds rather out of place to boot.
If you're even bothering to read this far, maybe you should try to find a copy of The Humanoid for the sake of morbid curiosity. But unless you're really desperate for material to heckle or want to have a field day analyzing how not to make a movie, don't waste your time.
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This sort of story has been told a hundred times, and just about all of those are better--if you actually liked it, it's time to improve your standards: For the robot-learning-to-be-human angle, Metropolis is a good place to start, and there are other series as varied as Key The Metal Idol and Astroboy. For old-school sci-fi, Garaga isn't good, but better and similar; also check out Votoms, Gall Force, the original Macross, and for some real quality The Venus Wars.
Notes and Trivia
Information about this long-forgotten title is remarkably hard to come by, even in Japanese, but it appears to be an original concept developed by author Kouichi Mizuide. A novel version by Mizuide, with illustrations by Shouhei Obara, was published at about the same time as the video release.
On the Japanese releases, the phonetic Japanese title is usually captioned with the English text "The Humanoid"; it also technically has a subtitle, "Rezaria, Planet of Sorrow" (哀の惑星レザリア; "Hiai no Wakusei Rezaria").
The Humanoid was one of the first videos that Central Park Media translated, way back in 1991. Fortunately things went uphill from here (it'd have been hard to go anywhere else).
US DVD Review
USM has produced a bilingual DVD, with a "fun facts video" listed as the only extra.
Nothing particularly objectionable, but there's enough violence to warrant about a 10-up.
Violence: 2 - Not particularly graphic, but some violence.
Nudity: 1 - Not nudity per se, but Antoinette's metal form is uncovered a few times.
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - Some implied romance, nothing more.
Language: 1 - Relatively mild.
Staff & Cast
Original Japanese Cast
Eric: Kazuki Yao
Antoinette: Yoshiko Sakakibara
Sheri: Yumiko Shibata
Alan: Kiyoshi Kobayashi
Watson: Hidemasa Shibata
Proud: Kazuyoshi Sogabe
Ignasia: Hikari Akiyama
Libero: Eiji Maruyama
Director: Shin-ichi Makaki
General Producer: Hiromasa Shibazaki
Screenplay: Kouichi Minade, Kaname Productions
Original Characters: Hajime Sorayama
Character Design: Shouhei Obara
Mechanical Design: Shouhei Obara
Animation Director: Osamu Kamijoh
Art Director: Hagema Katsumata
Photography Director: Motoaki Ikegami
Music: Masao Nakajima
Music Director: Noriyoshi Matsuura
Theme Song: "Dancin' in the Rain"
Vocalist: Megumi Hayakawa
Formerly available in North America on hybrid DVD from the late US Manga Corps. There are also ancient subtitled and dubbed VHS editions, both long out of print.
At last check there were (unsurprisingly) plenty of brand new copies available on Amazon for under a buck: The Humanoid