The Gransazers: Super Battle Memory (2005)

Class: Staff
Author: Anthony Romero
Score: (0.5/5)
June 2nd, 2006 [Review May Contain Spoilers]

Harking back to "stock footage fests" of yore like The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie, Toho's The Gransazers: Super Battle Memory is sadly one of the more slapdash movies from the company, possibly ever. Where as the Justirisers release at this same time, also with the “Super Battle Memory” suffix, was merely an interview session with the cast, it was decided that the Gransazers feature would actually be a narrative story and another entry in the canon of the series. Bringing back director Hiromi Munemoto, responsible for the first episode of the show along with numerous others, and longtime series writers Toshimichi Okawa and Hakase Ishii, Toho seems to have at least kept this feature in good hands. Unfortunately, the movie plays out like a bad “clip show”, featuring a weak storyline to connect it all, while not allowing characters or acting to make any sort of impression and, to add insult to injury, features a stock soundtrack that rounds out this disappointing endeavor by the company.

In terms of plot, the movie starts out with Tenma Kudo checking his cell phone, while in the midst of reminiscing about his past adventures, as he receives a mysterious text message. Word spreads as Tenma and the other Sazers, along with Archaeologist Ichiro Horiguchi, meet at the designated location fearing the worst. As it turns out, though, the message was merely from Taippei Mikami who has arranged a surprise party for the group. However, the festivities are cut short by a noise outside as everyone rushes out to witness the Cloud Dragon's return to Earth, as the Gransazers' powers are needed once again.

If the story sounds simplistic, short and corny, that's because it is. Normally, at least on the more recent reviews, I try to leave out spoilers. However, in this case there isn't enough of a story to do otherwise as the movie is, literally, about 85% stock footage from the show. The movie does have a purpose, though, beyond being a vehicle for a reunion of the principal characters, as it does establish the return of the Sazers, who disbanded and went into a, more or less, forced “retirement” at the end of episode 51 when the Cloud Dragon left the planet. Unfortunately, the film does little to work with this concept, as the flying mech is literally brought into the story in the final two minutes and the film cuts out just as the Sazers are transforming. So yes, to make it clear, they stay in their normal “form” throughout the duration of the movie, minus the overdose of reminiscing ala stock footage that is occurring.

Now I can imagine, this being a direct-to-video release, that the production was likely given a miniscule budget; however, I don't think it's too much to ask for at least something that could be comparable to a regular episode from the show. As it stands, this movie is the worst thing in the continuity of the series, even surpassing the show's own clip show episode, 25. This is disappointing too as there was potential for some interesting storylines here, especially considering that the Bosquito, an enemy from the show, are the main adversaries in Super Fleet Sazer-X the Movie (2005). No such luck, though, and considering that the new footage amounts to little more than around 10 minutes, this whole story could easily have been placed inside the Sazer-X feature without much work, and would have done wonders to pad out the theatrical film's very short running time of only 70 minutes (the same as this movie). However, no dice, as this narrative is left to stand on its own with horrendous results.

In regards to character development, well there really isn't enough new material here to write anything about in lengths. Yes, it's nice to see the crew from the show back again, but they don't get to do much, even taking into consideration the dismal amount of new footage present. The most disappointing aspect, though, is that almost nothing, save a throwaway line, is done to reflect on the relationship of Naoto Matsuzaka and Ryoko Amemiya, especially since this is the first time the audience has seen the pair since their marriage at the end of the show. Even when together the movie keeps interaction between the two to a minimum, as if their relationship hadn't changed at all since before the final episode of the show. Even more unfortunate, though, is that despite appearing prominently on the cover Logia does not appear in this movie outside of stock footage. Something which is sure to disappoint a number of fans considering that for many he was the best aspect of the series.

Of course, given the lack of material to work with, it should come as no surprise that the acting performances do little to stand out. In fact, a few of the recurring cast members don't seem particularly excited to be working on the movie either, although at least this doesn't lead to any cringe worthy moments. It's interesting to see how the cast has changed, physically, since the show's closure in 2003, though. A lot of the actors, for example, have a great deal more hair or have changed hair color since the show's run, particularly Hideaki Serizawa and Soji Masaki, the latter of which is guaranteed to make any fan of the show do a double take the first time they see him.

As for the music, Yasuharu Takanashi's themes are, as always, energetic and pleasant, as is the title song by U-Ya Asaoka and Eddy Blues; however, it's all stock here without anything new for the movie to tout about. Now granted, the same could be said of most episodes in the show as well, so I guess one can't complain too much as Takanashi's music certainly does liven up the material a little. Although, at the same time, it certainly would have been nice to see some new themes from the composer to try and make this feature at least a little less forgettable.

In closing, even “true fans” of the show are better off skipping this movie. It's nice to see the cast together again, but this feature gives them little to work with and is a wasted effort at bringing any sort of meaning to this reunion event that had so much potential following the two year gap since the show's finish.