18 December 2004 | BrianDanaCamp
More Japanese animated psychic combat
BABEL II: PERFECT COLLECTION compiles the four OAV episodes of BABEL II (1992) into a single 104-minute film. Based on a 1973 animated TV series created by Mitsuteru Yokoyama (of "Gigantor" fame), it tells the tale of Koichi, a Japanese schoolboy who finds he's the chosen successor to Babel, an alien stranded on earth thousands of years ago who had the original Tower of Babel built so he could contact his home planet, an effort that ended in failure when the people of the time destroyed the tower. So Koichi, now dubbed "Babel the Second" (the proper way to pronounce the title, not "Babel Two"), uses his newly discovered inner powers to go to war against a band of criminal psychics who first seek to recruit him and then try to kill him since their leader, Yomi, considers himself Babel's true successor. Making things interesting for Koichi is Juju, Yomi's fetching young female aide, who is drawn to Koichi and keeps trying to get him to come over to their side. Adding some spectacle are Babel II's three "servants"a giant robot, a black panther and a winged four-legged mammal that Koichi rides around on. Also on hand are a pair of U.N. Security Agents who monitor the action and, after first suspecting Koichi of being one of the renegade psychics, soon give him valuable support.
The first half does a very good job of setting up the characters and situations and includes a spectacular psychic battle in an abandoned urban area that foreshadows some of the Tokyo-set fighting action in "X" (both the 1996 movie and the 2001 TV series). However, at a certain point the whole thing plays like a compilation of scenes from a much longer series. Cuts between sequences get more and more abrupt and key information is withheld from us. It also gets mighty repetitive, as each battle between Koichi and his super-psychic-powered opponents comes to resemble the last, until Koichi and Yomi replay their climactic big battle from earlier but in a different setting. It's exciting and fast-paced but a bit wearying.
Juju is an interesting character and gives Koichi a female counterpart in whom he invests some real feeling. Their bonding gives the proceedings some genuine emotional resonance. It doesn't hurt that the petite lilac-colored-haired Juju is pretty and sexy and wears a steady stream of attractive fashions throughout.