PATALLIRO STARDUST KEIKAKU
It's weird, it's old, it's gay - but if you on board for that, you'll love it.
It's hard to describe Patalliro to those who haven't seen it. It was absolutely ground-breaking for its time for being the first ever shounen-ai on Japanese TV. I would say it's a psychedelic adventure involving a Japanese, gay James Bond and a wacky, time-travelling ‘Scrappy-Doo type’ prankster dictator who solve apocalyptic diamond theft mysteries. It is very Japanese, there is a lot of surreal humour involving puns that you likely won't get unless you speak the language but even if you don't, the antics are often entertaining.
The movie Patalliro Stardust Keikaku is actually a great instalment of this franchise. Given the score of the film being so low, I expected it to be like a bad episode but I would say this is one of the stronger episodes of Patalliro for a few reasons:
“Junior” is a great antagonist. Partly because he’s pretty fabulous - He has poison lipstick and he throws a rose before he tries to kill you, which is a bit of a giveaway but very stylish. But also, he’s a catalyst for friction between Bancoran and Maraich, which means the film is more focused on their relationship - which I love.
All the main characters are great and have fantastic chemistry. I love Bancoran, his bishounen-killer ways and his almost violent but playful disdain for Patalliro is really funny to me. We also get to see some inner conflict for him in this film. Maraich’s jealous love for him is entertaining. Patalliro is a very acquired taste. I used to find him annoying but now I find his antics fun and silly (one reason why it’s probably best to watch the TV show first).
My favourite thing about this film is the ending, which I won’t spoil but it was rather beautifully melancholic. The stardust and diamond aesthetic was gorgeous to look at. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wacky and the “space science” doesn’t really make sense but the villain’s plan to end the world through the falling frozen diamond satellite causing mass extreme hail was really interesting.
The plot felt tight in the best way. I don’t wish to be critical of other reviewers but I also want to correct something. The fact that their reviews have accused this film of having no plot honestly makes me think that they haven’t seen the film because the plot is very evident, it’s totally wacky but it’s also totally there. If anything, there’s too much plot because a lot happens in this short runtime. There’s just enough comedic relief. The romance is well-woven in so that it’s pertinent to the story line. The denouement right at the end was honestly pretty unexpected.
Here’s one caveat: I personally think you need to have seen the TV show to really appreciate it. It’s similar to the Revolutionary Girl Utena movie in that it’s intended to be standalone but if you know the characters, their motives and the basic set-up for the plot then it definitely helps. I would imagine that I would have been completely bewildered by several moments in the film if I hadn’t seen the TV show.
For me, one of the main reasons for watching this is the art. This is very subjective, I would imagine that most people will hate the art style because it’s very unique and very dated but in a way that’s endlessly charming rather than jarring in my opinion. The backgrounds are stunning and the psychedelic colour scheme is so vibrant. It’s very stylised. It looks graphic and ornate and it reminds me of an Aubrey Beardsley painting or an Erte fashion drawing. I love the art style but it’s probably not for most people.
The sound might be called cheesy or dated by some and it is but it’s also perfectly suited to the style of the show. It reminds me of those old seventies detective shows like Charlie’s Angels or classic Bond films. I think it’s fun, vintage and charming. For those fans of the show, much of the OST is reused (you’ll be pleased to know that the “Who Killed Cock Robin?” song makes an appearance) but there are also some fun new additions.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I think it’s really fun, weird and a great watch. I also think it’s unique and original with a great art style. That said, I’m not sure if I would recommend it to most people, it has so many things about it that people dislike, for example: it’s old, it’s shounen-ai, it’s very weird, it’s full of very japanese references and the animation is dated. If you can get past all that then you’ll probably love this film but it’s certainly not for everyone.