When one typically thinks of anime, the countries of origin that usually come to mind are of Asian orientation: Japan mostly and then perhaps China, Korea and so on. However Synkronized Films hopes to break this association with an animated project that originated in Mexico as a $1.8 million 2010 feature film.
For the domestic DVD release, viewers have their choice of a dubbed English dialog track, the original Mexican voice work and the option to run English subtitles over either. The film comes in at a 90-minute runtime and while not-rated, it’s pretty safe to say the piece would earn a PG rating for animated fighting sequences and cartoony violence. There are no sexual situations or inappropriate language to report.
The story, which is a bit more complicated than a paragraph summary can do justice works off the concept of the relationship between humanity and magical sentient animal apparitions called Brijes; a relationship that has apparently been in existence since the dawn of time.
In the beginning every human had a Brije and theirs was a symbiotic existence. When the human reached teen hood, shamans would perform the ritual of "synchronizing" by which the human and the Brije were able to transform into warrior form: a physical state in which the human acquired the powers of his individual Brije (and takes on the appearance of the combined forms).
However, as time’s gone on and superstition has been replaced with science and tradition with technology, this union has only weakened. Eventually humans stopped believing in magic and thus were the Brijes banished to their own dimension.
The film literally uses a narrator and its first 8-minutes to set up the backstory. After the opening credits, it advances to modern day where a bunch of school-age children are about to visit a museum. After taking a little more than the guided tour, they uncover a relic that not only makes them aware of the situation at hand but also welcomes them into an active role in the ageless struggle of good versus evil. What ensues is time travel, global exploration and the revitalization of a nearly-forgotten bond between man and mythical beings.
Honestly, the film is quite ambitious for its 1.5-hour runtime and though it flounders a bit to find its rhythm early-on, the prose works pretty well once it hits its stride. The visuals are mostly 2D work with bright colors and crisp characters coupled to integrated CG segments that look pretty tight (especially one of the later battle sequences).
The voice acting, sadly, isn’t quite on par with the visuals. As is so often the case with most anime; the best way to appreciate the enthusiasm and emotion of the cast is to turn on the original dialog track. However unless Spanish is your native tongue (or you really enjoy reading subtitles); there’s going to be great temptation to kick back with the English dub. Don’t get me wrong, it’s passable to be sure, especially for younger viewers who care little for the nuances of solid voice acting, but adults are going to occasionally cringe at the some of the flatfoot deliveries.
At the end of the day, Guardians of the Lost Code is an enjoyable film that does what few in the genre attempt: Combines some actual historical events with a fun and interesting mythology. The timing of this release is a bit late considering it would likely have cleaned up in the early 2000’s when the MONsters stuff was all the rage but regardless, may of the themes still hold up well today. A solid 3-star effort all in all but do feel free to add a star to my rating should you be the type of person who takes great enjoyment from Pokemon or Digimon (and to a lesser extent Yu-Gi-Oh) looking for something with a slight Mexican flavor, this could be just what you’re craving.
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About the reviewer
Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on Amazon.com) is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing. … more