She, the Ultimate Weapon
Another Love Song

Starring (voice): Shiro Ishimoda, Fumiko Orikasa, Shinichirô Miki and Miki Itô
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 29 January 2007

In her country's attempt to ward off an unnamed superior invading nation, Chise has been designed to be the ultimate living weapon. Her designers are soon to discover that puberty and power are not a good combination...

She The Ultimate Weapon: Another Love Song, could have made the mistake of trying to do a follow up to the excellent original show Saikano: She The Ultimate Weapon, thankfully they decided to explore some of the back story instead. Some of the original characters are either referred to or seen briefly to keep continuity with the first story, but only Chise plays any major part in the proceedings. The success of the first Saikano have allowed the makers to add a slew of other projects, including both this two part anime and the excellent live action movie.

The show tells the story of the original ultimate living weapon, Mizuki, a war weary veteran who agrees to have the implants after her battalion is destroyed. The creators of the show have an obvious problem, right from the start, as anyone who has seen Saikano (and if you haven't, why not, it really is one of the most touching stories committed to anime) will know that Chise is the only one around, therefore it's a foregone conclusion that Mizuki must get it in the head at some point. Rather than spend their efforts on a paint by numbers show Another Love Story takes another look at why people kill.

There has always been a strong thread in the shows which examines the reasons behind why people will go off to war. In this portion of the story Chise and Mizuki are used to contrast two such reasons. Chise is, as ever, a reluctant warrior who kills in defence of those that she loves - so reluctantly that she is wracked by doubt and guilt, eventually loosing her humanity to her machine components. A metaphor if ever I saw one. Mizuki has no such doubts, as she has agreed to become a cyborg in order to exact revenge on those she holds responsible for the death of her friends. If love is Chise's weakness then hate is Miuki's.

It is within the interactions between these two women that both come to understand a little better the world in which they find themselves. Chise looses much of her innocence to the war, and Mizuki finally recaptures some of her humanity. In the end the show does not try and give simplistic answers to the question of why people fight, rather spending its time on the individual and very personal consequence of war.

There is not much in the way of extras on the disc except for the original Japanese promo and some production artwork, plus the inevitable set of trailers for other shows. The original Japanese release had more, including a bunch of interviews with the show's creators and cast. The picture quality is top notch, with the option of an English or Japanese 5.1 audio track with subtitles. Both sets of voice actors do a splendid job with the show.

Although these two episodes are meant to fill in some of the gaps from the original show, the story works well as a stand alone. Fans that have not seen Saikano will not be lost as the show, whilst being referential to the original, does not rely on it for either structure or context.

Overall a great addition to an underrated franchise, now all we want is the live action movie.

Charles Packer

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