Finding No Place Like Home with Special Actors

25 Aug

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Played at Fantasia Digital Film Festival 2020

Kazuto (Kazuto Osawa) is playing a fictionalized version of himself, and he has anxiety. It’s tough to be an actor with this condition, because on set, if he passes out during filming, the director will call for a cut and it’d take time to reset for a retake. He also loves his sentai, and Rescueman is his safety blanket. He wants to be like this hero! Just where the film goes next is simply him meeting a troupe of “Special Actors,” which is also the title of this film.

These people are the types who are paid to show up at funerals, perhaps as extras, so they can weep for the deceased or fake moments. They are also part-time mystery solvers. No Scooby-Doo does not have to worry, but these scrappy thespians can land into different trouble all on their own, and it adds a bit of comedic relief.

Out of all the anime I’ve seen from the last decade, I can’t help but want to draw comparisons to the anime Prefectural Earth Defense Force. There are no real similarities from a narrative standpoint. In what is lays with how a The Special Actors talent agency is actually a front for something else! In this case, wannabe heroes. The visual style and humour feel the same. You get thrown for crazy loops and have to wonder if Kuzuto will ever get over his condition. If he and this team is to take down the Musubiru, a UFO cult, this protagonist has a lot to get over.

Special Actors [2020]: 'Fantasia' Review - A silly comedy with an ...

They plan and plot everything out, and just like one of Fred Jones’ traps, it’s bound to have kinks. That’s when the story gets fun. We see the team frantically do their best. Just how they fare in this case is mostly through loose sketch comedy moments that barely hold their own when placed one after another.

I’ll give this work another go when it arrives on home video or a service which will allow me repeated viewings. As a one-off at Fantasia Fest, it was not enough and certainly worth another view. I see promise in Shin’ichirô Ueda‘s second work, but his pacing was off. It will require time to figure it out.

3½ Stars out of 5

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