Legend of Lemnear
In a rare first for me, I had no idea what this title was about when I popped it in the DVD player late last night. I had rented it through NetFlix (an excellent place to try out anime, by the way) and there was no synopsis available. No matter...I went through the menu and found out that the story was based on a manga series of the same name, which usually bodes well. Unfortunately, that wasn't exactly the case...Legend of Lemnear starts with a major battle with an evil wizard, Gamlien, taking prisoner the champion of Bronze, Messhu. The credits roll. We then see a unique, silverhaired, scantily dressed woman travelling around and walking into a bar. We find out that this is Lemnear. She is soon accosted by some evil goons of a local slave trader. She fights them off, but it won't stop there...it turns out Lemnear is part of a prophecy that fortells that she will help bring peace back to the land, etc, etc.
The first half of the movie revolves around the start of this prophecy and Lemnear winding up an unwilling courtesan in the slaver trader's court, which is naturally filled with unclothed women. Essentially, this seems to be the main point of the first half of the film, showing women in various states of undress for no legitimate reason. During the second half, Lemnear escapes and takes on the bad guys, where she saves Messhu and has a long, vicious battle with Lord Varohl, the tyrant who rules the land. The fighting sequences are well choreographed and really quite impressive. They added to my rating quite a bit, though they are reminiscent of sequences from Robot Carnival. However, they extend so long without plot development that, even though they are entertaining, we begin to lose interest.
The problem here is not so much the characters. You can tell that they have a history, at least in manga form, although they don't get much exposition here. What fails is that we are essentially told of an epic legend that from start to finish only has 40 minutes to complete. Although it does make sense, it would be rather like watching a short highlights tape of the Star Wars sextet, going right from Tatooine to the lightsaber battle in Return of the Jedi. It just doesn't feel right because so much is missing. That is essentially the case here. Though there aren't too many characters introduced, such as in the unbelievably bad Tekken, it still doesn't jell. Also, the nudity is prevalent enough to be distasteful to someone not expecting it, especially in an anime that really would only appeal to 13-17 year olds, and some of the violence is very graphic. All that being said, I believe that this might appeal to fans of the manga who want to see their favorite characters on the screen, and it does hold a vague appeal as part of the "sword and sorcery" canon of anime, though it really adds little to the genre.
Legend of Lemnear -- nudity, graphic violence -- C+