Strait Jacket is an anime that tells the story about demon hunters. It features demons on killing rampages, fierce battles between demons and their hunters, and one particular demon hunter with a dark past who is constantly looking for ways to atone his sins.
It is a world where people make use of magic in every field. As a price for doing so, those who use magic thoughtlessly lose their minds and have their bodies transformed into demons, either through accidents or acts of terrorism by the evil-minded. In response to this threat, ‘Mold technology’ is developed to allow demon hunters to protect themselves while battling the demons. Rayotte Steinberg is an unlicensed sorcerer who always gets the job done but leaves the place in ruins. Despite this, his skills catch the attention of Nerin Simmons, an inspector from the regulatory body for demon hunters, Magic Administration Bureau. Nerin therefore tries to recruit Rayotte to join the Bureau and become a ‘Tactical Sorcerer’…
In the beginning, Strait Jacket looks very promising. Following a short but stylish opening, viewers are introduced to a world of magic, demons and demon hunters. The concept of hunters using magic to help them fight against the nasty demons, and in doing so become at risk of turning into demons themselves, is an interesting one. If developed fully, it could have been quite an intriguing concept. Unfortunately, the filmmakers have not managed to expand their original idea into something greater. As a result, the film has turned out to be lacking in substance, and despite a short running time of just 76 minutes, it actually drags on a bit at times.
The back story about Rayotte Steinberg’s past, which forms the backbone of the film, is told in such a way that only generates disinterest. It mainly concerns another character, Kapel Theta, an orphan child who comes to live with Rayotte. Looking at their interactions, viewers who care enough to try to understand the characters’ motives are probably going to get confused. The themes of sin, judgement and atonement are brought up many times, but never explored in any depth.
Visually, the film is decent. The backgrounds look quite good but people’s facial expressions and body movements often seem unnatural, and the demons are (perhaps appropriately) plain ugly. I have a feeling that this may be the result of budget constraints rather than a true reflection of the animators’ skills. They have clearly put more effort into the action scenes, which feature some cool visual effects. The fights are therefore pretty exciting to watch. It is a shame that these good action scenes are so short.
I cannot help but feel disappointed by Strait Jacket. Despite a good concept and promising opening, the film fairly quickly disintegrates into mediocrity. The filmmakers have missed the opportunity to produce what could have been a really fantastic anime here. I do feel, however, that there is plenty of room for improvement, and certainly look forward to seeing other works that make better use of the Strait Jacket idea.