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The Empire of Corpses Review

How far would you go to keep a promise to someone? In October 2015, Watson wanted nothing more than to keep a promise... at any cost. 

Directing this 120 minute animation/sci-fi/thriller is Ryoutarou Makihara. 

Some of the voice cast is: Jason Leibrecht as John H. Watson, Todd Haberkorn as Friday, J. Michael Tatum as Frederick Barnaby, Sean Hennigan as Mycroft Holmes,  Morgan Garrett as Hadaly Lilith and R. Bruce Elliot as The One.

In the 19th century, reanimated corpses are a part of every day life in Europe, and are used as laborers. Even though the dead are huge part of our lives, there's a law in place stopping just anyone from bringing the dead back. John H. Watson knew about the law, but decided to take the risk anyway. Unfortunately, John was caught by Mycroft Holmes, but instead of being arrested right then and there, John was given a choice. John could go to jail, or work for the government.  After finding out what the job was, John saw a chance to further his own work with reanimated corpses. All John has to do is find the book that holds the secrets Victor Frankenstein used when reanimating the first human corpse... The One.

This is based on the novel The Empire of Corpses (2012), which is also known as Shisha no Teikoku, written by Project Itoh and To Enjo. This one is part of a three film series based on the novels written by Project Itoh. After all three films are dropped it'll be The Empire of Corpses (2015), Harmony (2015) and Genocidal Organ, which (as of 4/20/2016) has hit a delay and doesn't have a release date yet. Now, I don't know if the stories are linked or if they are stand alone story's that caught someone's attention and felt like they just needed to become animes. I guess we'll just have to wait and see since I've never read the novels. 

The screenplay that Midori Goto, Hiroshi Seko and Koji Yananoto came up with is interesting, but in the end falls short of entertaining. I liked the way the corpses were mixed into our everyday life and that they had become just a usual thing in the world, instead of the fearful deadly creatures we're used to seeing in movies. The story is more than just about finding Frankenstein's journal, it also covers Watson's personal journey and what he's willing to do to achieve his own goals. Will he see the danger of what he seeks, or will he blindly follow down the same path Frankenstein did to his own demise just to get what he wants?

I don't know why, but I liked that they mixed classic characters like Holmes, Watson and Barnaby into the re-telling of the Frankenstein. It helped give it something different and stand out. What's really sad about this one is that it starts out so strong, but slowly dwindles the longer it goes on til it hits the end and goes completely and inexplicably weird. Or maybe I'm just not bright enough to understand the "deep meaning" behind it all. So, if I'm not, then yeah, it was a weird and unsatisfying ending. 

The play-through started out strong and caught my attention, but as it kept going there wasn't enough going on to help hold my attention all the way through. One of the downsides to this one is that Watson is really the only character we see development in, which kind of makes the overall story rather light. There are a few other characters that run with Watson but they are always used as bit players that have big reveals to give the story a punch, but then they're tossed aside like they're not important. Watson just wasn't a strong enough character to carry the whole movie. Yeah, his personal struggle was intriguing to watch, but not 2 hours intriguing. 

Visually, everything looked really good, and the character design that Takaaki Chiba came up with was cool. The story jumps around a lot, so we get to see some really cool looking scenery and I really dug the use of Victorian steam-punk throughout the movie. Even though the fight scenes were good, unfortunately, there's not a lot of them and I was expecting more to go down during them because they're rather quick to end. Now, things get a bit bloody at times, but nothing really limb tearing gory. For a film with re-animated corpses... it's pretty tame.

I'm always curious to see the difference between the dubbed and and subtitled so I watched both of them just for kicks. Plus I wanted a second go at the ending to see if I was missing anything. I liked the subtitled version better, which truthfully, I usually do. This time is was because I didn't care for the voice they picked (Jason Liebrecht) to dub Watson's character, it just didn't fit him. Watson's character seems young and kind of weak and the voice was big and strong. Yeah, I know weird thing to trip over but it kept tripping me up through the whole thing. Side note, even with the second watch, the ending still made no sense. 

Overall, yeah it has cool spots and interesting moments, but this isn't one I would ever re-watch (again). So, if you've run out of anime to watch and just want something to stare at... give it a go? 

It's rated  NR (not rated) but has violence. 

3 stars