KEIZOKU 2 SPEC: REI (MOVIE REVIEW)

KEIZOKU 2 SPEC: REI (MOVIE REVIEW)
SPEC ~Rei~ (2013)

I was so relieved to discover that the series was not ending with the mess that was SPEC: Ten and I'm glad the writers wrote that movie with the intention to explain all the WTF-ness.

Consequently, I retract some of my criticisms about new elements being introduced in Ten, given Ten was only supposed to be Part 2 of a 4-part conclusion (incidentally, I saw movie posters for Zen and Kou while I was in Japan and wanted to watch so badly but did not trust my Japanese comprehension skills that much).

That does not necessarily mean SPEC ~Rei~ did anything to further the task of clarifying anything, but I do hope that information revealed here will be of some use, moving forward.

Warning: LONG, IMAGE HEAVY AND SPOILERS

First order of business -what a ridiculous way for Toma to find out about SPEC holders - a policeman involved in the investigation of her family's accident just coming up and telling her that her parents were murdered by SPEC holders. There was no suggestion the policeman was a fake but it still seems silly that any information about SPEC users - where their names are classified to the extent that Sebumi and Toma had to infiltrate the database in the series after much difficulty - would be freely given to a high school student.

Most of Nonomura's scenes with Toma made me question whether the writers knew about police protocol at all or if police protocol exists in this universe. How else is Toma allowed to try to arrest Ninomae single-handedly (unless she was doing so illegally with her FBI uniform?)?

The camaraderie between Nonomura and Toma was a good character relationship to reinforce though, even if it was slightly eclipsed by the Toma/Nancy subplot

I really enjoyed the little of Sebumi that we saw in the movie - I wonder if they find out his parallel to Toma's situation about losing their family?

The small instances of happiness were also great to glimpse but Rei definitely feels like it's more about Ninomae and Toma and even Chii more than Sebumi. If the implication at the end is that the white angel/demons are more involved in bringing Sebumi into Toma's storyline, we should get more explanation for Shimura in Zen and Kou.

If this is a prequel, shouldn't there have been some mention of Aoike from Ten? They would have had Jun-chan around this time, no? Continuity...

Again, I was worried that Kase Ryo is going to bust a blood vessel or cause high blood pressure to himself during the course of this film. Boy needs to take it easy...also, I really hope they are not going to Flanderize Sebumi because that was a huge problem I had with Ten.

Nitpicking with the makeups department...why do the things on his forehead look more like a skin condition than battle wounds? Also, was he holding a photo of his mum?? Or his dad cross-dressing? Or what?

Did the creepy vice-captain dude who held a grudge against Sebumi for being promoted before him have anything to do with the subsequent Shimura episode or was it just a red herring? I think he's involved somehow...calling it now! 

Aw Mirei-chan...I feel sorrier for her every time and the actress does a great job with the little screentime she gets. Poor thing got family-zoned ):

As much as I loved Nancy, I absolutely hate when movies and specials introduce random characters (with really convenient powers who appear at really convenient moments) that were not alluded to in the series, especially someone with such central importance to Toma as Nancy with brainwashing-beating levels of friendship.

To be fair, I don't think the writers expected to have to come up with five continuations of the series but they should have had Toma's backstory straightened out before starting the series and had ample opportunity to slip in mention of Nancy and Toma's FBI days in the past movies and specials. So no excuse - she was deus ex machina in human form.

The English dialogue was pretty stilted and awkward to listen to, as an English speaker. I think the actress was speaking deliberately slowly to help the Japanese audience but yeah...her lines sounded terribly rehearsed.

Same deus ex machina goes for Toma's bomb-making...though I feel like maybe that was something that had been alluded to in previous movies? Toma's grandmother just doesn't care, does she? It's pretty awesome

The only thing the white angel/demon people did was show that the Fatima prophecy and Goetia were not just random concepts (which is a huge relief) and that the creepy little girl can turn into a big girl and eat lots of taiyaki and potentially has the ability to also stop time. This, I think, is a significant point as that confirms there's a second layer to all of this rather than just Ninomae fooling around and greater powers want Sebumi to be somehow involved.

The little girl is Jun from Ten, so something funky is happening with timelines here...

So is this Ninomae one of the clones we saw in Ten? Or is this Youta? Was Chii controlling him all along at the behest of the oil lord or independently or was Ninomae super loopy and psychopathic to begin with and Chii only implanted fake memories into him to steer his antagonism towards Toma?

Why was Chii even working for that oil dude? Why did Chii want Ninomae to destroy Toma? SO MANY QUESTIONS. I need to rewatch Ten, now that I know that there is actually plot.

Kamiki Ryuunosuke did a good job of showing a few vulnerable, human moments in Ninomae's psychotic armour, especially when he meets his 'new' mother and considering the events that happened in the series where he tells Chii to erase her memory.

Ueno Maho's story was a not-very-subtle parallel to Toma's situation but the fact that she took advantage of people's sympathy and trust for disabled people was an interesting key point in her plot.

I called her being the villain the moment she was randomly outside the hotel though...it was way too obvious foreshadowing, especially since she had no reason to be outside the hotel. I'm not sure if she serves any other purpose, other than being the 'villain of the week'.

Chii's 'creepy stalker who mind rapes the object of his affection' tendencies were appropriately disturbing and explained the disparity between Toma's memories and her attitude towards him at the beginning of the actual series... but he's just so silly in other sections that it's hard to reconcile the evil, ruthless mastermind with the dude who ran off to the Netherlands without checking anything, just because Toma's grandma told him she had gone.

I keep feeling like Ninomae and Toma could have easily resolved this entire thing if he had just asked her why she killed his (their) parents. Rewatching the actual series, he does allude to this in Episode 9 when he tells her, 'I don't want to listen to a bomber like you. You killed my whole family' so props to continuity there.

For how smart Toma is, I can't believe she just expected that instant glue would survive an explosion in her pocket and didn't immediately grab Ninomae's hand when she was about to arrest him, despite her disorientation, post bomb explosion.

Also, I doubt she could have survived an explosion at such close range without some sort of injury beyond her hand (which would not have been blown off by the explosion because it was such a clean break...so I assume Ninomae cut it off). But why didn't he kill her the first time in the car?

SPEC's interesting camera framing is great as always. There were no particular shots that really jumped out at me though. Also, I see them trying to get their money's worth out of that 360 degree camera (*cough ala SM Entertainment cough*)

The movie soundtrack is starting to get slightly old so I would really like to at least hear some remixes (and also, I see you using the track from Summer Wars).

I was laughing a lot at the product placement because of how shamelessly blatant it was. For some reason, it works for SPEC, though they really laid on that K-ON marketing very heavily.

Overall, SPEC ~Rei~ filled in all the gaps in our knowledge of the Toma/Ninomae/Chii storyline. This begs the question - is this simply bonus for a storyline that ostensibly ended at the end of the series? Or is this a prelude to more revelations to come?

BONUS: SPEC ~Close~ musings

Spotted in Odaiba during my Japan trip

 
Trailer 1 | Trailer 2 | Trailer 3

I've patchily rewatched SPEC's main series over this break and recurring plot points keep jumping out at me that I glossed over the first time.

So I'm expecting the movies to address and wrap these up:

  • Tsuda Sukehiro... apparently that was Chii's real name but it's also the name of the policeman who appeared in Ten. The construction worker in Sho who kidnapped Nozomi also shared Chii's habit of eating squid. I'm assuming that 'Tsuda Sukehiro' is a common name given to different people or they're the same person, somehow

  • It looks like white demon-angel girl (aka. Jun) with Sekai is...already present here despite not having been conceived yet (??) and wants Sebumi's storyline to mix with Toma's. She or someone appears to also have the power to stop time and do the bullet reversing thing which caused Shimura's death

  • Will we finally find out why people cloned Ninomae and whether he was a clone here?? Or why Sekai erases them all? My gut feeling says he's Youta here and the cloning came after he was defeated in the series but...who knows?

  • Nonomura's letter at beginning of Ten suggests he, Toma and Sebumi are no longer alive...hmmm. I think Nonomura dies first and Toma (in the trailer) asks Sebumi to kill her ):

Cheat sheet of notes

  • Simple Plan = plan to get rid of SPEC holders by government and powerful people
  • Fatima prophecy = explained at beginning in Ten - three prophecies were given to children by Virgin Mary. Two of these prophecies about World War 1 & 2 and USSR came true
    • Fatima's Third prophecy has 'come to pass' in Ten or at least started with the events of Ten. There is an angel with a fiery sword in her left hand in the prophecy that could be Toma. I'm guessing Toma's SPEC harbours dark energy that causes apocalyptic events
  • Goetia = It was mentioned but I can't find it again...
  • Solomon's Key = a way to reverse time. I'm guessing Sebumi has something to do with it
  • Is there a word or concept spelt out by the single kanji characters that each episode is named by?