In my desire to expand the 70 or so mini-reviews that started The Anime Review, I've come across many shows that really deserved far more text than I gave them originally. I can barely believe I relegated perhaps five or six lines to Wings of Honneamise, one of my personal favorites. On the other hand, Cipher has the distinct dishonor of being the first and, for many years, the only anime on the entire site deserving of that coveted Razzie award, the F. Time has not been kind to Cipher, and what was bad back in 1994 when I first saw it has become no more pleasant today. Although inoffensive by basic content standards and extremely unlikely ever to be seen on Western shores through a real distributor, it's worth warning the reader about because a reasonable amount of anime collectors seek out rare materials to make their assortment of Japanese wares more unique. Cipher would not be a welcome addition to most.
Although the show is essentially a collection of videos, there is a vague attempt at a plot. Two brothers are in the spotlight: one a movie star making a football movie, the other (apparently) a musician who occasionally goes to school (possibly to cover for his sibling). What will destiny bring them? Watch the videos and find out! (If you're wondering, yes, that's pretty much it. I would give spoilers if I could, but there's nothing to spoil. Frankly, even coming up with the description of who the brothers really are is difficult, since the show gives us nothing to work with.)
To call the show animation is really a disservice to animators. There are plenty of still shots, and though the artwork is pretty, there's nothing going on, so not much happens. For those importing the show, you'll have very little translation to do because the songs and a good deal of the dialogue are in English. However, this is where the show becomes truly unwatchable. The songs are recognizable 80s tunes sung by Japanese counterparts who come off horribly. It's not like anyone needs another performance of "Let's Hear It For The Boy" or "Against All Odds", especially not by off-key singers who appear not to understand the words they are attempting to pronounce while stretching for the notes they are attempting to hit. To be fair, there is one reasonably good song by a Japanese band that, though unmemorable, is a welcome relief in that it does not drive one screaming from the room.
With no plot, limited animation, and music that would gag a goat, this film is a ridiculous waste of a half-hour. Even fans of shonen-ai "pretty boy" anime will likely be turned off by its incompetence. Thankfully, it's easy to avoid, but I'm sure that a musty laser disc of this is sitting in somebody's closet waiting to be sold on Ebay. Don't let curiosity get the better of your wallet.
Cipher -- nothing objectionable, but objectionable anyway -- F