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Reviewer:
Tom (Webmaster)

Based on: Whole series (8 short films)

UK Distributor:  Escapi Films (DVD & VHS)

Secrets consists of eight short films all reviewed separately below in the order they appear on the DVD/VHS, followed by the overall verdict:

Comet the Thief:

Yuki plays the thief Comet Ė a martial-arts expert who infiltrates the home a criminal kingpin in order to steal his antique guitar.  She of course runs into the kingpin which results in an all-out fight with an unlikely twist and it will leave you proud to be British.

Comet the Thief plays rather like an intro to a computer game Ė Tekken or Dead or Alive are among many of examples Ė but considering this short is only six minutes long the plot is established quickly and has a pleasing amount of action.  The CGI is a little ropey compared to the other shorts in this collection, but Comet the Thief is a piece of fun action in which effects matter not.  Good fun.

The Mirror:

In this surreal short Yukiís reflections in mirrors, windows and other reflective surfaces come to life and pursue her throughout the film.  Like all surreal work it is not fully clear what is happening and why but you cannot help be transfixed to the screen as you try to work it all out.

The Mirror is one of the best surreal films I have seen and also tops many horror animť as it quite disturbing in places as you get the sense Yuki is trying to escape her fame, as she is seen with electric sparks omitting from her body, and is unable to confront her demons.  Or does the film portray a society of clones and everyone is the same?  Or a future of electrical beings?  I could go on forever as I am sure you will after watching The Mirror which is a brilliant slice of surrealism considering itís short running time.  The CGI is also startling in places Ė the wind on Yukiís clothes whilst she is running and the puddle ripples are a huge improvement over Comet the Thief.

Dos/Chin:

In this short Yuki attempts to paint her mischievous pet robot dog Dos/Chin.  However he proves too much and Yuki ends up kicking him out, regretting it immediately and then attempts to find him.  A standard pet loss story that happens to feature a robot and surprisingly some bullet-time effects.

A comedy that isnít really that funny, where Dos/Chin fails in the humours stakes it does succeed with some fantastic lighting effects, particularly on Dos/Chin.  However the story is too ill conceived and is boring and seven minutes feels long.  You may find Dos/Chin cute, but it is the weakest film in this collection.

Lazy Gui:

Yuki is aboard a spaceship in which a computer infection causes the self-destruct sequence to start.  Thus begins a race against time to get off before the whole blows, which luckily this film doesnít.

Although some may find the background of an industrial spaceship a bit stale, Iíll be surprised if they notice at the pace Lazy Gui runs at.  It does an excellent job of inducing a sense of panic to the viewer and this is helped by the great techno soundtrack.  The film also has the most laughs despite being the sci-fi short and not the comedy one.

Lazy Gui was my personal favourite and was the longest six minutes I've spent on the edge of my seat.

Fly Away Alone:

In this Yuki is a sensuous songbird giving a great performance in a French bar of the song Fly Away Alone.  And erÖthatís it.

So this is basically a music video then?  Escapi (distributors of this DVD/VHS) havenít labelled it that way, but I would myself.  It does feature a pianist at the start finding something on the beach which evokes him dreaming of the performance, but it last about ten seconds and that does not make this film Ė it is a music video.

But the fact if it is a film or music video isnít in question, it is of course whether it is any good and it is.  Fly Away Alone is a good song and thatís all you need to know.

Project BB-11:

Set during World War 2, BB-11 has Yuki saying farewell to her beloved as he prepares to go to war and then infiltrating a military complex to find him.  This all happens against the backdrop of a fantastic air attack against a warship.

BB-11 features unbelievable CGI which is equal to that of big-budget CGI films such as Final Fantasy.  The details on the war planes is incredible and really add to the atmosphere.  However the plot is sketchy in BB-11 and at only three minutes long plays rather like a film trailer which only shows snippets of various scenes.  In animation terms BB-11 is the best in this collection but in terms of plot it is pretty weak.

A Life:

A short which would not be out of place in any arts cinema, A Life concentrates on Yuki alone in her flat seemingly contemplating her life.  Scenes jump from her applying make-up and dressing elegantly to holding a gun and looking very alone.

An odd short as it seems to portray Yuki as a lonely character and not the sexy cyber star the Japanese public see her as.  A life seems to concentrate on the pressures of fame just as The Mirror did but the plot is not surreal this time and is more clearly self-destruction as you would expect it to be for someone.

The single cello score really adds to the sense of loneliness and misery and makes A Life a depressing film to watch.  I doubt it is something you would watch much but it is a compelling piece of film that does produce the feeling it wants very, very well.

My Dearest You:

Unlike Fly Away Alone, this has been correctly labelled as a music video and it is of Yukiís smash hit in Japan, My Dearest You.

A feel-good J-pop song that is pretty good, the video itself is a little boring as it just features Yuki dancing against a rather plain background.  Interestingly the video does have a real actress playing Yuki in places and you will have to rewind a couple of times to notice where.  That is about the best feature of the video but it is a good song so thatís ok.

Overall Yuki Terai is a great collection of diverse shorts which really show off some cutting-edge CGI.  Although there are a few downers I have mentioned above, there are more uppers which cancel them out and make this collection an essential purchase and not just a unique purchase.

Feature:
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