Bounty Dog

Official Blurb:

"In the future, mankind has colonised the bleak expanses of the moonshining cities which stand proudly where once was only desolation and emptiness. But there are forces that do not want mankind to succeed. Forces that have only hatred for the brave men and women who have transformed the face of the moon. Strange waves of power emanate from deep below the surface of the moon, where a centuries-old alien power, known only as The Sleeper, waits for the day it can arise to spread destruction. Only one man can stop this power; one man whose fate and destiny have brought him to the moon - a member of the Bounty Dog Investigation Unit, a high-tech cybernetic mercenary team."

"The Bounty arrive on the moon to investigate the strange waves of energy, only to find themselves caught up in a desperate attempt to destroy The Sleeper before it awakes and obliterates all traces of mankind on the moon and on earth. The Unit race to uncover the ancient evil on the hidden side of the moon, while the forces of The Sleeper begin to emerge, bringing ever-closer the ultimate catastrophe that only one man can prevent - if he can get there in time!"

Original Story:    Zero G Room
Director:          Hiroshi Negishi
Screenplay:        Mayori Sekijima
Character Design:  Hirotoshi Sano
Mechanical Design: Atsushi Takeuchi
Copyright:         Zero G Room/Star Child Toho Ltd./Movic Inc.

Language Format:   English Language
Running time:      60 mins
Certificate:       18
Label:             Manga Video
Catalogue no:      MANV 1117
Price:             £11.99
Release Date:      15th January 1995


The Plot
Set in the 21st Century, all of the action takes place on the Moon. A number of cities have been built, which cater to the tourist industry and the corporations who have facilities there. However, all is not well. One of the corporations has discovered a mysterious object, which they call the Sleeper, and as they try to work out what the object is, the other Corporations suspect the development of a new weapon. Enter the mercenary Bounty Dog investigation team.

This trio - Shoko (the leader), Yoshiyuki (the main character in the film) and Kei sneak onto the moon, posing as tourists. Then things start to get strange. Yoshiyuki encounters Ines, a young girl who reminds him of Yayoi, his former lover. But Yayoi is dead, killed in a mysterious fire 5 years earlier.

When Ines is shot by corporate hit-men, Yoshiyuki is drawn into a battle between (literally) light and dark, in which Yayoi, the Ines' (yes there's more than one) and the Sleeper play a major role. With struggles between the corporations, the Bounty Dog team and the light vs dark struggle, there is plenty of action

Animation & design
The animation quality is somewhat variable, ranging from awful (the insert short of the stewardess on the shuttle to the Moon springs to mind) to quite good. Generally it is reasonable but not stunning, with fairly nice character and mecha designs. Although not credited on the video sleeve, a number of the mecha and space suits are based on Shirow designs (the 'spider' attack craft and the EVA suits worn towards the end are the most recognisable, but there are others).

Voice Acting & Dialogue
When I first started to watch Bounty Dog, I got as far as the lunar approach (about a minute in) before turning off. The reason was the not-so-wonderful dubbing, Shoko's "Wow, it's the moon". Fortunately I came back to watch the tape a day or so later, and managed to sit through the whole thing. Once past the initial problems the dub is passable, but not brilliant. The voice actor's delivery is by and large okay, Shoko's "Wow" actually being more 'in character' than a serious problem. However, the script they have to work from isn't that great, with many inconstancies, repetitions and (horror or horrors) Americanisms. I don't know what the original dialogue was, but I somehow don't think 'I remember Clinton' was part of it.

There are a number of things about Bounty Dog that spring to mind. One is the potential for confusion even in the relatively simple plot. A number of factors cause this. The main one is having a number of almost identical characters (the Ines'), but the technique of cutting current scenes with those from a point earlier in the story adds to the confusion. If you pay attention to the action this shouldn't be a problem.

The second thing is the amount of repetition and inconsistencies in the script. I didn't count the number of times Yayoi or Ines said "...on the moon", but it began to grate after a while. Similarly, they go to great lengths to talk about the corporate treaty banning the use of military forces outside of the Earth's atmosphere - the Bounty Dog team are deployed to investigate rumours of military research - and yet no one shows any surprise when the Corporation deploys troops and numerous combat mecha.

Okay, so the plot is full of cliches and isn't terribly believable or consistent, but Bounty Dog isn't bad. That isn't to say it is good - there are much better sci-fi pieces on the market (Patlabor, Macross Plus and Sol Bianca spring to mind), but it's not a complete waste of time. 5/10 [Chris Hartford]

The title gives no clue to what this is; in fact it's an example of the kind of weird, rather romantic sci-fi that only the Japanese could produce. Yoshioki, Shouko and Kay, comprising undercover investigation team "Bounty Dog", head for the moon, posing as tourists. Yoshioki is a poet who writes blank verse on his laptop as their shuttle nears the cratered surface. A fire and minor explosions serve as a diversion for their investigation of the powerful Constans Development Corporation. However, a strange girl, Inez, accosts Yoshioki, and seems bewildered and angry when he fails to recognise her. He belatedly realises that she is a reincarnation of his dead girlfriend, Yayoi. Meanwhile it emerges that contrary to what they imagined, the Constans corporation is concealing a dark alien force, the Sleeper, which is rapidly awakening, and that in a strange duality Inez and his dead girlfriend are linked to it.

The predicted 18 certificate seems a little extreme as the action scenes are no more explicit than in hundreds of other anime. The strengths of this video are in the more poetic and romantic bits which momentarily are quite powerful. The science fiction elements are wildly implausible - a breathable lunar atmosphere in our lifetimes, indeed! - and the animators have made no attempt to portray the effects of the low lunar gravity. The action sequences, in which swarms of soldiers with battle robots appear on the supposedly demilitarised Moon, are rather hackneyed. Interesting stuff, though. (***) [Geoff Cowie]