What the high holy hell was that?! I...I'm confused and disoriented, and not in a good way. And She, the Ultimate Weapon is 100% to blame. It's like the writers couldn't decide whether they wanted to make a teenage love drama, a war show, a horror story, a sci-fi series, or a porno. So they just grabbed a little bit of this, and a whooooole lot of that, threw it into the blender and hit "scramble". Then the milky-white, clumpy shit that was left is what they molded the series with.
Maybe that's a bit harsh, but they definitely missed the mark on making anything coherent plot wise. For example, one scene you're watching two high school kids talking about the fun they had as kids eating ice cream and petting kittens while playing on the swings, but then a second later we're knee deep in blood soaked bodies in the center of a war zone with buildings and heads exploding in a vision that would put Saving Private Ryan to shame... Oh yeah, and then a little girl with a rocket pack would come in and vaporize a few war planes and enemy soldiers with a bright light from her sucking chest wound. But I think I better take a step back and explain the plot to you a little first.
It all starts out in the near future. The world is at war and Japan is just starting to get attacked by American fighters (yeah, they never just come out and just say it, but they're clearly Americans who are killing all those poor Japaneses to Hell for reasons unknown... But I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts that those little bastards started it! To war! To WAR!!... Oops, sorry. Seemed to have channeled MacArthur there again).
The main characters in the show (a high school guy named Shuji [who looks like a 40-something salaryman], and a high school girl named Chise [who looks like a prepubescent grade schooler]) are just starting to go out with each other because Chise's and Shuji's friend (doomed girl #1) thought they would make a cute couple. Doomed girl #1 has a monster hard-on for Shuji herself though, and spends the rest of the show feeling sorry for her own sorry ass despite the fact that she was the one who initiated all the ill-fated relationships in the first place. Chise and Shuji are surrounded by boatloads of other (doomed) friends who don't seem to understand or care about what the looming war means to their pathetic, youthful lives.
Sounds like a normal, Japanese drama to you? Just wait. See, it turns out that Chise has been turned into the Japanese military's number one secret super-weapon, and nobody knows this but Shuji, who accidentally found out one day after seeing her transform from her weapon body back into her little girl form (when you think of Chise, think of a mixture of Megatron, the Overfiend, and that overly cute girl from Hamtaro). Shuji's then sworn to secrecy and begins to think that the only reason he's going out with Chise is to keep her level-headed so that she will not sink into a numbness after realizing that she's really only a giant, flying, glowing laser gun being used by an uncaring military.
Then the shit really hits the fan and covers the whole room with feelings of despair, betrayal and angst. It really doesn't know which way it wants to go, so the plot basically goes everywhere at once. I was so confused and bewildered and higgledy-piggledy that I felt angsted and betrayed myself. I was so let down by what this series could have been, what it should have been, that I'm just going to tell you all how it ends so that you won't have to waste your money and hard earned free time on it too.
Okay, so Chise is on call 24/7 by the Japanese military because those darn Yankee pig-dogs won't stop bombing the shit out of the motherland. This breaks up lots of would-be dates with her boy toy Shuji, despite the fact that he doesn't even think he really loves her. And the fact that he's still bopping the older woman to whom he lost his virginity to back in middle school (lucky fucking dog!).
Anyway, Doomed girl #1 continues to feel sorry for herself for loosing Shuji, but she refuses to give Shuji's best friend (aka "doomed boy #1") a chance at making the freaky freaky because she's mentally unstable and feels that stalking the one you love is always a more fulfilling relationship than being with the one who'd kill a baby for you with his bare hands. Speaking of "baby killers", doomed boy #1 joins the dwindling army in order to impress doomed girl #1 for God only know what reason.
During all of this, every other good friend and classmate of Shuji's and Chise's is slaughtered in one horrific, coincidental scene after another horrific, coincidental death scene. Some are shot by stupid gaijin soldiers, some get crushed (very vividly) in falling debris, some are earthquake victims and some are just plain stupid. Anyway, after a while (and a couple of break-ups and reconciliations), Chise and Shuji get tired of the whole boring war and run away together (oh yeah, by this time doomed girl #1 and doomed boy #1 are deader than doorknobs).
They find a small town that's pretty much unaffected by the war (must be the last one on Earth), and begin to make new lives for themselves. They're happy and all, but Chise's negligence in her duty (as the ultimate weapon) brings doom upon this happy little hamlet in the form of napalm and cluster bombs. Yup, everybody that they knew and loved is now paste there too.
Chise's really sick now (the military was keeping her in check with some very curious "vitamins", which she's run out of) and Shuji betrays her by handing her back to the army doctors. Then he calls it quits and runs back home to his parents (who are like the only survivors of his old town) with his tail tucked between his legs. Then Chise comes back to him with her mind wiped (the hell?....), and then the two fucked up lovers start humping like disgusting dirty gerbils for a full episode. Then the final battle occurs right off the coast of their town.
Chise goes off to fight, a giant tsunami washes the fuck over the city, and in an ironic twist of fate Chise saves Shuji with the last of her strength and he finds himself to be the last human being on the planet. Just like that guy in that Twilight Zone episode, except Shuji doesn't even have a library to read all of the books he never had time to read before... Thinking back on it that's not even very ironic. It's just cruel. I mean, the whole world is a wasteland now and Shuji doesn't even have a box of Pop-Tarts to get him through the week, let alone uncontaminated water! The least Chise could have done was to quickly zap him with a laser before she killed those patriotic Americans raining doom down all around them. Bitch.
Anyway, other than the incredible downer of a plot (if I had to guess, I'd say that the creators were simply trying to make a depressing war story about the helpless victims of war that would rival Grave of the Fireflies in its ability to make you want to slit your wrists in the shape of "smiley faces"... they came close, but honestly nothing will ever be as sadly fucked up as Grave of the Fireflies), there were a bunch of other things that kept me from really liking this anime. First of all, it's done by Studio Gonzo (nope, that's not the bad thing). Now, while I think that Gonzo's animation is usually eye-poppingly gorgeous, with fluid movement, very pretty character designs, and filled with interesting, if not great, uses of computer aided effects, their stories are usually flat with no real substance. Well, the exact opposite is the problem with She, the Ultimate Weapon. The story is simply too full, and the character designs and animation suck. For example, none of the characters have any noses, even in profile. Seriously, they look like the Red Skull from the side! Their foreheads slope directly into their chins. It's almost disturbing to see. Not to mention the previously mentioned fact that Shuji looks like a giant middle-aged man, and Chise looks like his tiny grandchild. It's just sooooo wrong on so many levels. It reminded me of the times that my married friends Alec and Meg would go out and somebody would always ask him how old his daughter was. Just creepy. But I digress.
Let me just finish this damn thing up by stating that I was just thoroughly confused by this anime series. It was the most schizo show that I've ever seen. It was like it had multiple personalities or a bi-polar condition and forgot to take it's medication, instead choosing to ignore the problem and hope it would go away. In the end, as a nasty side effect, it just suffered from some horrible brain damage.
Oh my good word! This parable of youth in war is very telling indeed. It also makes me well up with a great deal of guilt knowing how close to home it hits the inhabitants of my era.
You see, less than 10 years ago the Great Galactic War of Flan (not the planet Flan, but the dessert) broke out and a few dozen people were killed within the first 10 months of fighting alone. So instead of allowing more of its vast populations to die pointlessly and painfully, all three sides of the war decided to choose 500,000 little girls and turn them all into tentacle-robot slaves in order to decide the fate of the custardy dessert recipe for all of mankind. Well, all 1.5 million of the little girls were decimated when every one of them was loaded with 4 mini-nuclear warheads that were set to go off whenever they wet themselves and cried like... well, like little girls. Hindsight is 20/20, my friends, and I just wish that somebody in charge could have stopped the madness before it got so out of control. I mean, that was half of the solar system's stockpile of nuclear weapons just crapped down the toilet, and the recipe for flan ended up remaining unchanged after all the bloodshed and pretty explosions. Will man never learn?!?
Oh my God! That poor little girl! I so cried when I watched this show. I turned to my brother with tear-stained cheeks and told him that it was the saddest thing that I would ever see in my entire life... But that's when that asshole put in Grave of the Fireflies. I didn't even get a break to recover from the Ultimate Girly Weapon thing. Nope, just right into starving kids at the end of World War II. It took Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore and two showings of Ghostbusters after that in order to get me to stop crying. I'll get him back, though. Even if I have to burn his little black book and his Barely Legal DVD collection to do it! He will suffer and weep like I did.