Solty Rei

No-one knows how or why the Blast Fall happened, but in a single cataclysmic instant, millions were killed, and countless others maimed. Those who could afford to do so had their wounds repaired by advanced prosthetic surgery, at the cost of being dubbed “Resembles”. Those who couldn’t afford the surgery, who were displaced by the Blast Fall, or who were unable to recover economically, became part of the vast underclass of “Unregistered Citizens”. Ten years after the Blast Fall, society has regrouped under the ever-watchful eye of the Reesteblishment Universe Committee (RUC) – and walking the borderline between the respectable citizenry and the underclass of this new world are men like Roy Revant. A former cop turned bounty hunter, Revant lost his wife in the Blast Fall and still searches for his missing daughter. One day, his life is inadvertently saved by a strange young woman who seems to be both completely naïve and entirely amnesic. But she is no ordinary person – she is a “Genuine”, an entirely prosthetic being who possesses untapped powers and capacities. And it is she who will take Roy into the heart of a vast conspiracy that will reveal the cause of the Blast Fall, and the true nature and origins of the society in which he lives.

Co-produced by prolific anime studio Gonzo in collaboration with Tokyo-based AIC, “Solty Rei” originally aired on Japanese television from late 2005 to early 2006. Rendered in an animation style that combines character forms reminiscent of the “first wave” anime of the 70s and 80s with detailed CGI background visuals, “Solty Rei” takes stock characters – the brooding loner, the cheerful ditz, the melancholic lover-turned-villain – and creates a story which, if spotty in parts, is by turns entertaining and moving. Homages to the classic noir films of Bogart and Mitchum are everywhere evident in the retro-futuristic art deco aesthetic; and while the occasions of slapstick comedy that appear in the early episodes are rarely successful, they do set up encounters between different characters that are important for events later in the series. Overall, the story arc builds up to a convincing – if predictable – conclusion, with a twist at the end that makes it especially relevant in these days of COVID-19. Along the way, “Solty Rei” also manages to make some telling observations about unresolved grief, obsessive love, memory, identity, and the politics of class.

© Text Copyright Brendan E Byrne 2020. All rights reserved.