Developed as a commemoration to Osamu Dazai’s 110th birthday, “Human Lost” is the anime adaptation of “No Longer Human”, which is considered the masterpiece of the Japanese author and ranks as the second-best selling novel in Japan. Add to this that Katsuyuki Motohiro of “Psycho Pass” is Chief Director, Fuminori Kizaki of “Afro Samurai” the director and that Polygon Pictures, who were in charge “Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters” the production studio, and you have all the elements for a masterpiece. Let us see if that is actually the case.
The story takes places in Tokyo 2036, where medical treatment has almost conquered death, allowing people to regenerate no matter what their injuries and to reach a 120-year-old lifespan, free from illness, by means of internal nanomachines and the “S.H.E.L.L.” system whose network controls them. However, this technological advance has also resulted in a number of issues. Financial and social disparity, with the privileged living in an area called Inside, where everything seems to be working excellently and the rest on the Outside, where pollution has reached unprecedented levels and the ethical decadence due to the lack of fear has led to violence becoming the rule. Lastly, the “Human Lost” phenomenon, in which people themselves, disconnected from the S.H.E.L.L. network, transform into demons, has been tormenting the population, to the point that the government has instituted a team specially trained to face the creatures, H.I.L.A.M.
In this setting, we meet our protagonist, Yozo Oba, a drug addicted artist who has been tormented by dreams (visions) of a demon for some time, while living in a small room on the first floor of a bar. Eventually, and following a friend who is set on breaking into the Inside with his biker’s gang, he meets Masao Horiki, a mysterious man who has come up with a drug that seems to add to the nanomachines powers. Their “mission” ends in tragedy, while a “Lost” makes its appearance, Yozo discovers that he has special abilities himself, Yoshiko Hiiragi, an agent of H.I.L.A.M. also makes her appearance saving and eventually following Yozo and Horiki’s true intentions are partially revealed.
What becomes evident from the beginning is that the directors of the film wanted to use Dazai’s original but to adapt it into a setting that resembles “Akira” contextually, maybe with a bit more action involved. This part becomes quite evident in the impressive first action scene, that includes motorcycles, robotic dogs, monsters and a prophecy loaning elements from Greek mythology, all wrapped in a package that also reminded me of “Mad Max”.
Through this approach, Kizaki also makes a number of sociopolitical and philosophical comments that revolve around mortality, the difference between the privileged and the underprivileged, the concept of a new beginning for the world through mass destruction, civilization, and even love. It is somewhere here that the faults in the narrative appear, since the film tries to deal with too many topics, with too many approaches, a tactic which eventually results in an overcomplicated story.
Apart from that, however, the rest of the elements of the film are quite artful. CGI is not exactly my favorite practice for anime, but this time they are well done and actually embedded into the whole design, in a practice that seems to be the way to go. The design in general is exceptional in all its aspects: characters, monsters, the intensely red dream sessions and the various backgrounds, with the attention to detail being at the utmost level. The action scenes are all majestic, with the initial and the final one being the most impressive, while highlighting the work done in the animation department.
“Human Lost” would have been a better film if it was simpler, but still remains a very entertaining spectacle, that will definitely satisfy all fans of cyberpunk/scifi action.