Killer viruses in “King of Thorn (2009)”

While I love manga/anime with a medical-thriller vibe (think Naoki Urasawa’s “Monster”) this killer virus flick, “King of Thorn” totally escaped my radar. In fact, I hadn’t heard of this anime or the manga until last night while dicking around on YouTube for something to review. If you’re familiar with the anime series, “Big O” (an adolescent favorite: mecha meets Batman) then you’ve already seen Kazuyoshi Katayama’s directorial style. That alone convinced me to give this movie a try. Although I sorta wished I hadn’t.

King of Thorn (2009)

Director and screenwriter: Kazuyoshi Katayama 

Original writer: Yuji Iwahara (Manga) 

Voice actors (Japanese — English dubs generally SUCK donkey balls) Kana Hanazawa, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Misaki Kuno, Akiko Yajima

The first one-third of the movie was what I expected (in a good way). To survive a pandemic virus, humankind’s last hope is to freeze a selected few for 100yrs until a cure is found. While asleep, mutant creatures attack the dreaming facility and those lucky not to have died while asleep, fight off crazy scientists, mutants, and other odd creatures through gory, pulptastic, action sequences. The animation isn’t terrible and I liked all the crazy characters. Even Kasumi. I wish the movie had stuck with its simple survival horror plot instead of veering left and getting lost in its metaphorical “Sleeping Beauty” message.

I thought the virus was a virus, but apparently the whole thing is just a dream, but the main character is also a figment of that dream, who is a clone of her twin and…yeah…what? Why couldn’t this just be a shoot’em up monster movie as advertised? “King of Thorn” tried way way way too hard to be philosophical and just sorta fell flat by the second-third of the movie. It’s so convoluted I can’t really tell you what the ending even means.

All in all, I’d give it a “C.” I’ll try to review other anime horror movies in the future. This one was just OK.

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