Director: Shin'ichi Masaki
Screenplay: Koichi Mizuide
Voice Cast: Kazuki Yao as Eric; Yoshiko Sakakibara as Antoinette; Yumiko Shibata as Sheri; Eiji Maruyama as Libero; Hidekatsu Shibata as Dr. Watson; Hikari Akiyama as Ignasia; Kazuyuki Sogabe as Governor Proud
Viewed in Caffeinated English
Synopsis: On a distant planet, the ironically named Governor Proud desires to use a forbidden spaceship to take his people and their princess back to their home on the other side of space. Even with the various warnings of the spaceship's destructiveness, he still goes ahead with this plan and requires two keys, one which will involve two Earthling pilots and a female android named Antoinette.
How do you create an anime as generic and un-dramatic as The Humanoid? Well, first you bear in mind the Japanese economy at the time of its production was riding high. In the eighties, in the midst of their economic upturn before violent economic depression downwards, excess also meant a lot of money was available in the animation industry, not just the super theatrical productions like Odin: Photon Sailor Starlight (1985) but also the amount of straight-to-video productions created when the market came to be and needed product. Also bear in mind that even after this into the modern day there's still stuff inexplicably being produced, but that a work like The Humanoid gained infamy because it was released in the West and developed an anti-cult. In the case The Humanoid, part of the many licenses US distributor Central Park Media released. These licenses would linger even into the early DVD age where I can have an ILC release with the original English dub available in the UK, thus ensuring another series of viewers witnessing its infamy before it gets lost to nostalgic blog posts.
At forty or so minutes you manage to see when there's a lot of time to fill and not enough at the same time with a generic sci-fi story like The Humanoid, as rudimentary as you can get with its simplistic tale. Its opening text crawl, likely added for the English release, imitates Star Wars but is completely superfluous to a story where the villain's name gives away what happens, when he fancies piloting a spaceship a former governor keeps warning him against only for the expected to happen. The heroes are stock types, one the stereotypical anime male protagonist with a love interest, the other memorable both for Burt Reynolds quality facial hair and his coffee fixation. The one character who gets anything remotely close to detail is Antoinette, a female android clearly inspired by the work of artist Hajime Sorayama, whose work on sexualised female robots even made its way onto an Aerosmith album cover. Her story, that she is a synthetic creation who eventually learns the human emotion of love, is agonised over through the anime. Not only is her story in truth cut short by the length of the anime, only having time to learn of love through the younger hero and his love interest splashing each other in the sea at one point, but even when it's played out with her heroic sacrifice in the ending there's a monologue at the end that stresses a very simplistic and obvious concept with great concern.
How it is The Humanoid is still entertaining with this in mind is just as complicated. Nostalgia for an era of anime I wasn't even born within let alone able to appreciate. Where even the rudimentary animation and colour palette of this, as low budget as you can get, is still aesthetically pleasing even if it's an embarrassment for hand drawn animation. How television anime, stretched over hours of episodes, is so much more painful to stand through than a single forty or so minute animation, which unless its unbearable is tolerable in any extreme. How this eighties kitsch - from the animation to the music - is significantly more pleasing than the pure dirty nastiness of more infamous anime from this era, and is especially more tolerable than later post-digital anime as bad as this, which don't have necessarily the same notoriety both for their lack of availability or not hitting the right notes to stand out. Paradoxically for one of the blandest anime I've ever seen, that's actually a virtue in how The Humanoid manages to actually succeed in doing this. I haven't even gotten to the coffee obsession either. From the original Japanese script or added in the English dub, it's the most well known trait of the series in how the cast are obsessed even as aliens to Earth coffee. Not since Devin Townsend's Ziltoid character as outer space been defined by coffee, so much so the English dub sneaks in a reference to an old American advertisement at the end. Only an anti-tea sentiment would emphasis this quirk, the sort of thing that alongside the complete ineffectual anti-virtues of The Humanoid made is harmless. Not defendable, just watchable. Not in the least bit the "bad" anime you need to go out and see, but a reminder that anime once which this cheap sci-fi malarkey.