Japanese animated film (1987). Studio Pierrot. Directed and written by Hisayuki Toriumi. Voice cast includes Masako Katsuki, Hiroyuki Okita and Osamu Saka. 70 minutes. Colour.
In the twenty-third century the Starship Saldes is hired by a mining company to convey its staff (and a pet cat, Lily) to survey a newly discovered planet. The round trip will take 40 years, so all will travel in Suspended Animation. However, during the journey the ship's Computer notices life readings on passing space debris, so – following orders – collects it. Arriving at the planet the people are awoken and Captain Hamilton (Saka) receives a communication from Earth: they have two unnamed imposters on board.
People start to die from something resembling Legionnaire's disease, but with their flesh combining with the Alien bacteria to create a Monster. One by one the humans are killed off, with escalating body horror. The ship's computer proves unhelpful: it now only obeys an AI Robot version of the cat, which is a proxy for the company – and the alien bacteria are deemed more important than the crew. In the end two young lovers, Jiro (Okita) and Nancy (Katsuki), escape in a shuttle to the planet whilst the captain sacrifices himself by blowing up the ship, to prevent it returning to Earth.
Between bouts of action, the consequences of suspended animation are discussed. The captain reflects on the alienating effect, with regards to both family and culture, of the decades passing on Earth whilst he journeys (see Time Distortion). Additionally, when the imposters are identified as a criminal (Jiro) and a pursuing police officer, the captain points out to the latter that after 40 years nobody is going to care that he has caught his prisoner (see Crime and Punishment); criminals habitually stow away for this reason. This Anime film is a derivative but competent example of Horror in SF: a little slow-moving early on, but moderately exciting towards the end, with a reasonably nightmarish monster designed by Yoshitaka Amano. The story's main influences are transparently Alien (1979) and The Thing (1982). It is not a film for cat lovers. [SP]