Science fiction and anime are a match made (mostly) in cinema heaven, but I’ll have to admit to being at a loss for words over much of what transpired in ICE. It’s the future (or maybe it ain’t). There’s a queen (or maybe she’s just a dictator), and there are these fancy female police officers (or maybe they’re samurai warriors). It all feels like it’s supposed to be really important or culturally relevant, but given the tale’s structure I’m at a loss to tell you anything definitive about it … other than the fact that it all felt a bit cold.
A drastic calamity in Earth’s environment somehow causes every male on Earth to die. For reasons not quite explained, the remaining women go to war – it appears to have all been territorial issues – and, not unlike SyFy’s recent update of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, the human population is down to the quintuple digits. The survivors break into two primary factions – one driven to live out their days in pleasure, one driven to stop our inevitable extinction – and now a full-scale war begins … as I said, for reasons that are never quite clear.
ICE appears to be a story about nihilism and a society’s desire to manifestly destroy itself. I say this principally because the disc’s packaging hints at it as well does one key scene from the film: a male infant appears mysteriously in a museum, and the human response is (confusingly) to kill it. And kill it they do! With a super powered machine gun! Why they did it remains a bit of a mystery, though I suspect there may’ve been another nefarious element at play here; however, if it was, it escaped my understanding entirely.
Don’t get me wrong: much of ICE looks good – certainly the way any respectable anime would – and there are a handful of folks here I believe I’m supposed to care about. Rulers and soldiers and small, plumb girls who ride motorcycles and seem to have some magical, mystical powers derived from only God knows where. I just didn’t care for them – mostly because their world launches out of nowhere – like a bizarre dream – with little explanation or follow-up of circumstance. The audience jumps from, say, 2012 into the future, and it all happens with little to no explanation. Additionally, the narrative is broken into chapters (three, I believe), which function like a three-act play, but the story never quite recovered from that opening sequences to the point where I felt comfortable in knowing what was transpiring. It all feels like this was adapted from a larger work – maybe it was, though I’ve been unable to find anything specific online – and I’m wondering if that may be the cause. Come the conclusion, I’m given a plausible explanation for the events I witnessed, but, again, I found myself left with a big ‘so what’ of indifference. If the context for what I saw was that important, it might’ve been better to have provided it up front instead of after 90 minutes of confusion.
ICE is a production from E-Net Frontier, Eleven Arts, Seminal Films, AAA (Acteurs Auteurs Associes), and Cine du Monde. DVD distribution is being handled by Seminal Films. It looks and sounds all well and good, though the disc comes with minimal special features.
RECOMMENDED only for serious fans of anime. While plenty went on here, I have to admit to being lost through an awful lot of it. A few characters were compelling enough to keep me hanging on, but, all-in-all, I’m not entirely certain if all of it was a dream, an alternate reality, or a time travel quick trip. In fairness, some of this may’ve been lost in translation (I’ve seen this happen more than a few times with animes given inadequate subtitling), but, without enough special features to point me in the right direction, I’m only left with a best-educated guess.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Seminal Films provided me with a DVD screener copy of ICE for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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ICE (アイス?) is a 2007 original video animation created by Yasushi Akimoto and directed by Makoto Kobayashi. It is set in the ruins of Tokyo in the near future, after an unspecified catastrophe has led to the death of all human males and many females. The small groups of women who survive face the impending extinction of humanity. There are suggestions that the disaster was caused by human interference with nature, possibly biological warfare experiments or genetic engineering. Many of the survivors blame men's warlike nature and scientific arrogance for the catastrophe. However, even though men have perished, the women who remain are forced to use violence in the face of bioterrorism and other threats. While some accept their fate as the last generation of humans, others see biological engineering as a final hope for the survival of the species.