Anime: The Empire of Corpses
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Retail Price: $34.98
If you are looking for something out of the norm, like an alternate history told through an action/adventure lense with an undead thriller twist, you may come across the anime film Empire of the Corpses. The film is based around a novel by the science fiction award winning author Philip K. Dick and Project Itoh that re-envisions the 19th century London as a time where the world has taken up development of technology known as “corpse reanimation technology.” The alluringly creepy development has a purpose of course - enlisting the mass amount of undead to work for those living in wherever they are needed around the world. The premise alone promises a lot to look forward to, but does the film (from the producers of Attack on Titan) fulfil those promises?
We are introduced to this revolutionary technology with John Watson, a fairly young medical student who recently lost a very close friend and companion leading Watson to fixate on embracing Dr. Victor Frankenstein’s work. What sets this apart from the simple reanimation techniques is the fact that the corpse doctor was the only person to successfully use his research to actually provide a soul - an extreme rarity for the “corpse reanimation technology.”
Watson’s experiments don’t sit well with the British government officials, and he realizes if he plans on making his goal come to fruition. Not only does Watson face potentially being stopped for his actions that aren’t exactly legal, but he also discovers that he must locate the research of Frankenstein to prevent any further development getting obtained by those with bad intentions.
The story tries to tinker with a few concepts, mainly being Watson chase to “save” his former friend, with the other primary concept being to save humanity in his own self justified way. There doesn’t feel like there is much beneath the surface and everything from Empire of the Corpses has a very surface level appeal. The film serves as a great straight forward film for those who may want to enjoy it without looking from anything from the anime movie, but if you enjoy coming across deeper values that present questions, Empire of the Corpses definitely leaves you a little bit disappointed at the lack of opportunities taken in its near two hour runtime. By the end, one could say they feel slight detachment from the end goal with a lack of interest if it’s actually completed or not.
The artwork provided on the cover was what drew me to Empire of the Corpses initially, using dark tones and a mysterious ambiance that appeared as if it were a darker version of a Black Butler anime concept art, which the film did use in some ways. Despite the cover though, the film’s animation shouldn’t be held to the same standard for its obvious differences. The deceased (or re-ceased?) have certain aspects that make them more interesting contributions to the anime film. There is use of computer generated based scenes throughout the duration, mainly odd mechanisms that doesn't sit well with my viewing taste (which I have acknowledged before) but there are exceptions to this - just not Empire of the Corpses. I can’t entirely say that the film is a loss, but I can’t call it a total success. In the end I’d say that the film is best suited for gothic genre fans with a little bit of a carefree storytelling and alternative animation styles.
Overall Score: 6/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
The best attributes to Empire of the Corpses are the cover/conceptual art and the living dead.
There was still plenty of room for the film to use fanservice which you know was taken full advantage of.
This was definitely well suited as a film opposed to a series.