Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Anime & Manga, Animation
A revolver holds six deadly bullets. Likewise, the train to Sunshine Hill holds Lola, Alice, Janette, Helen, Caroline and Margaret. Margaret is the daughter of a famous sheriff, Caroline is a young girl forced to defend ... more »
Similarly Requested DVDs
Train robbery, anime style
Doran Steele | 02/15/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Early Reins is set in the late nineteenth century American West. It is the story of six women who thwart a train robbery by the Heaven's Hill Gang, which is made up of former Confederate soldiers. The previous sentence gives a good hint to the level of Wild West train movie clichés that you will find in this film. Early Reins digs up just about everything you can do in a Wild West train film: in the course of the many shootouts the characters climb all over the train cars and jump from car to car, the bandits ride up on horseback to attack the train and the heroines have to defend the train as if it is some kind of fortress on wheels, the train bandits decouple the end train cars in order to leave behind the US soldiers who were supposed to be guarding the train, the train's breaks won't work which results in dramatic runaway train action, and so forth. However, the film also contains elements that are surprising in a Western. For example, the main protagonist is a miniskirt-wearing young woman who is a sheriff in training. The design of this character seems to be drawing on anime tropes of attractive yet strong young women as main protagonist, but the juxtaposition in this film of anime clichés with wild west clichés sometimes creates interesting results. There are a few diving-to-the-side-in-slow-motion shootout scenes, which work out pretty well. The animation of the film is uneven. Most of it is pretty good, but there are a couple of shots that seemed like they subcontracted it out to some kind of budget animation shop.
The biggest weakness of the film is that it is very short--45 minutes. While that's probably all they could afford for this OVA (original video animation), it does sell the story short. With six main characters, a couple of bad guys and a lot of runaway train action, it's hard to get a sense of very many of the characters. Of the heroines two of them are really the main characters--the sheriff-in-training and the outlaw who is currently working for good. The others occasionally get dialogue, but it is hard to get a good sense of who they are--one seems to be a tomboy farm girl and a couple of the others seem to be prim and proper ladies. In the English language dub they tried to differentiate the characters--each one seems to have an accent from a different part of the country.
The "making of" featurette basically amounts to a description of how they animated the CGI train and the CGI backgrounds. It's kind of interesting at first, but do we really need to see the wire frame models and different renderings of each car on the train? It would have been nice if they had included some information about the source material--the film is based on a video game that's only available in Japan.
Early Reins is rated 13 and up. There is a fair amount of violence and blood. At the worst a couple people get their throat slit and a couple others get shot with a Gatling at point-blank range. However, the film is a strange combination of bloody anime violence and Saturday morning cartoon restraint because sometimes the characters explode with blood when they get shot, but at other times they don't bleed at all and even seem to miss getting shot. The film also contains a scene of mild sexual assault: When the bandits first take over the train, they make lude and suggestive comments about the women and then insist on "searching" them, an act which consists groping the women. Decide if your thirteen year-old is up for this.
Early Reins is good, but not great. It is a spin-off of a video game, but this game is not available outside of Japan--a fact which denies the film of its intended core audience. It's too violent for young kids, but there's probably not enough action for most adult fans of action films. The animation is pretty good for most of it, but this is undercut by a few shots that seem to be of poorer quality. If you are looking for a short, fun anime adventure set in the old American West, this is probably a good choice for you."