Dr. Demian once helped create the technology for the Justice Team, a group of superpowered heroes ... but now he has been branded a terrorist, and under the command of General Steel, the Justice Team must face off against their creator and mentor. But is this really a battle for the good of all mankind?
I'd really like to commend Demian for at least attempting a subversion of the worn trope of the hero team. It's plain from the get-go that this is not a cut-and-dried good-versus-evil setup, especially when you name the film after its primary antagonist. Unfortunately, with only nineteen minutes runtime (including credits), there's little time to set up characters or background, so in order to succeed, a short film like this needs first-rate animation or storytelling. Sadly, Demian features neither, feeling more like a glorified tech demo or even student work than anything else.
The characters are pretty rudimentary, the most well developed of them being Demian himself (in fact, he's the only one who gets any sort of backstory). I don't even remember the hero team members ever actually being named apart from their colors, which is a pretty lousy way to garner any sort of sympathy when they have to face off against their old boss. It doesn't help, either, that General Steel is so transparently evil, right down to his character design. It's blatantly obvious he's trying to rid himself of two birds with one stone by facing these people off against each other, and it's mildly frustrating that the hero team is so blinded by "justice" that they can't see it, even as they're being pelted by friendly fire. This certainly lacks the storytelling finesse of an Oseam or My Beautiful Girl Mari or certainly any of a great number of live-action South Korean films (JSA Joint Security Area, Oldboy, etc) - clearly South Korea has no shortage of talented screenwriters, but apparently none of them were available for this all-too-conventional film.
Really, here, the story is simply window-dressing for watching giant robots attack each other and cause massive explosions. The 3D work isn't bad, and there's a couple of vaguely interesting attacks, but it contrasts immensely with the very loose and not-very-fluid 2D animation, which is never more than a step or two away from feeling outright bad. There's a heavy reliance on light emission effects to produce tension and drama, which means the combat is almost dismayingly traditional - even the final attack is so corny as to produce more chuckles than any true excitement.
And then, after the battle, the show simply ends, with no further resolution, no real message, just credits. It's kind of a shame - there have been some interesting things coming out from the studios across the Korea Strait, and this certainly could have been one of them, given a bit more polish, a bit more time, and a good deal more thought. Unfortunately, Demian instead comes off as yet another lackluster effort from an animation industry that seems perpetually stuck distantly behind Japan and the United States, churning out oodles and oodles of work for both countries but distressingly little for its own market.
Korean animators deserve to be telling better stories than the one we get here, and hopefully, that will be another review for another time - if Stig doesn't get there first!
Demian has a few good ideas, but ends up with limited appeal due to disappointing animation and ham-fisted, juvenile storytelling. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: Lots of explosions and a fair amount of blood, including a severed limb or two. Teens and up.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on crunchyroll, Korean with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Demian © 2009 Studio Goindol
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