009 Re: Cyborg is a modern sequel (and partial remake) of a story arc in the manga by Shotaro Ishinomori, which was never finished due to the author's passing. The film is produced by Tomohiko Ishii (The Sky Crawlers) and Mitsuhisa Ishikawa (Ghost in the Shell). It is from director Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex).
The story is an update to the manga story. A long time ago, nine cyborgs were created with the idea of being used for evil. Instead they became champions of justice and fought for the world. These cyborgs are superheroes to planet Earth. However, in a modern world, the cyborgs have become ordinary civilians and have forgotten their time spent as heroes.
Yet now the cyborgs are being brought back together to combine forces and stop the ominous "His Voice" which is making people create acts of terrorism. "His Voice" is a mysterious and invisible force that is speaking to people around the world. How can the cyborg team save the day and prevent the world's destruction?
The main character of the film is cyborg Joe Shimamura, who also started to hear "His Voice". Joe continues to want to save the world from destruction and not aid the terrorism. With the original team of cyborgs reunited an effort is made to figure out what "His Voice" is before everything on the planet is destroyed.
The score is composed by Kenji Kawai (Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell 2). It is easily amongst the best highlights of the 009 Re: Cyborg film. Kawai makes exciting and surreal scores. This is another strong score and it is often more exciting than the film itself.
The animation produced for 009 Re: Cyborg is well-done with good character designs and aesthetics. The detail given to the action sequences is impressive and there are moments throughout the film where the quality of the production shines. The animators did make interesting and effective artwork.
Unfortunately, 009 Re: Cyborg is a disappointing and mediocre film. The biggest issue with the film is the writing and directing. Kenji Kamiyama (director of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) handled both aspects of the production. This film has a convoluted story which jumps around chaotically without any good structure or sound storytelling. The film frequently offers up some bizarre philosophical ponderings in-between action sequences. Kamiyama's story doesn't have any character development and the story mostly seems meandering.
The story and characters feels completely secondary to attempts at action spectacle. Everything about this story fails to muster much enthusiasm. 009 Re: Cyborg is a mess incapable of managing to make a successful reboot or remake of a story arc never finished in the manga. The film flounders along and won't win many new fans.
Funimation presents 009 Re: Cyborg with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoding. The release is in native high-definition and is not an anime upscale. The presentation is in 1.78:1 widescreen. While some parts of the presentation demonstrate high-quality video and animation, this is actually a rather terrible presentation. The image has tons of compression artifacts during sequences with heavy action. There is bad macroblocking and pixilation at various points in the presentation. This is disappointing and underwhelming. There is also a lot of banding present during the entire film. The colors are rich and beautiful but too many parts throughout the presentation suffer from bad encoding for this release to be satisfying.
The audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD English and Japanese 5.1 surround sound. The presentation of the audio is underwhelming despite being lossless. Dialogue was at surprisingly low sound levels. Action scenes were sometimes rather quiet. The film was inconsistent as some parts had roaring surround sound that was crisp and clean and other sequences sounded flat and lifeless. Even after turning up the audio a lot more than usual, Fuimation's presentation still seemed lackluster at best. At least the English subtitles were excellent.
Special Prologue (9 min.) is a brief piece which introduces viewers to a short history of the comic before introducing and promoting the updated film version.
The release also includes a promotional video, teaser trailer, theatrical trailer, U.S. trailer, and trailers promoting other Funimation releases.
Inside the slipcover is a printed guidebook featuring an interview with the director of 009 Re: Cyborg, artwork, a character guide, a story guide, and more.
The funniest thing about the booklet is a part in the interview with director Kenji Kamiyama where he explains "the decision to make it hard to understand - was one I undertook with the specific goal of making the audience feel almost drunk, if that makes sense. I wanted their viewing experience to be disorienting, and that was a goal I had from the very beginning."
009 Re: Cyborg is a poor attempt at revitalizing a manga series in anime form. The original manga story arc was never finished because of the author's passing and writer/director Kenji Kamiyama tries to infuse new life in it as a franchise but the storytelling is too convoluted and uninteresting.
The animation is nicely done but Funimation's release is definitely not. The Blu-ray features mediocre PQ/AQ and has barely any supplements. If the film being a dud was not enough of a reason to skip this release, the poor quality of the disc itself makes this release easy to dismiss.