M.D. Geist 2: Death Force

The nature of a sequel is exploitation. Some sequels such as The Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather Part 2, and The Matrix Reloaded add a great deal to the story and mythology touched upon in their previous incarnations. But for the most part, sequels are a way for a company to cash in on a good (or at least popular) thing. So is the case of M.D. Geist 2: Death Force. This sequel, made 10 years after the 1986 original, was funded by US Manga Corps to make some extra dough off of the poorly reviewed OVA (which was nevertheless popular in the West). Not a hit in Japan, the unstoppable killer Geist seemed all but deceased until USMC resurrected him complete with the original director. Although this one has some better artists and slightly better production values, the flaws of the original are still very evident. Without a coherent script, this one manages to fail on all levels, not even hitting the low bar the first Geist set.

The story follows up in the aftermath of the original's surprise ending. (If you haven't seen the first, don't bother reading the rest, since I'll be spoiling stuff for you. Or go ahead. It's not like this is a show you're really going to rent, right?) Robots have been tearing up humanity since the government failed to stop the Death Force from unleashing itself on Jerra. There are still pockets of resistance left, but most of them wind up being gory fodder for the cybernetic bugs that roam the hillsides. Enter M.D. Krauser. The original Most Dangerous Soldier, he has built a new Eden/Zion/apocalyptic city of hope for the brave refugees who can survive the trip. He's an egomaniac with a narcissistic streak, but at least he's not nuts like his other MDS brethren.

A new crew of arrivals completes their trek and is shown in; one, Vaiya, becomes a personal favorite of Krauser. But deep in the recesses of her mind, Vaiya somehow knows Geist, the man she remembers as the God of Death. And he is indeed coming...as Krauser plans to take out the Death Force by using a special atomic bomb on the gathered mechanical organisms, the now totally insane Geist makes an appearance. Fueled now by nothing more than a desire for combat, Geist is less concerned about humanity's survival than his need for destruction. This will bring the two remaining Most Dangerous Soldiers to a final gory battle in which the fate of Jerra will be decided.

I must admit that I liked the first M.D. Geist a good deal more than most of my reviewer friends. Although I gave it just a C, after the denigration it's suffered from the hands of other anime fans, it doesn't appear nearly so bad. And at first, I thought I might like Death Force even better. For one, the artwork is clearly superior. The backgrounds are nicer, the characters are better designed, and the look is cleanly streamlined. There's also the happy fact that M.D. Geist doesn't actually appear until virtually the second half of the feature. We focus a little bit more on this band of survivors at first, and the hope rears its head that we might actually meet some real people this time around.

But hopes die quickly in the world of Geist. First, although the drawings themselves look far better, it's hard to call this animation. Sometimes, when there's supposed to be an explosion rocking the group, the camera just moves quickly back and forth over a still background. It's not convincing in the least. The constant use of stills makes us realize that though this show might have a better appearance, it's all smoke and mirrors. The only stuff that appears to be actually animated is the gore, which is far more plentiful (and far more disgusting) than in the former OVA.

But Death Force fails us worse than the first OVA because it sets us up for something better only to give us something much worse. The characters we see at the beginning play no part in the overall show; it really belongs to M.D. Krauser. The ending, one of the worst I've ever seen, tries to get the audience emotional about the death of a young man, but we don't know who he is--we haven't even seen him for a full half-hour when the show brings him back in to die, and we'd only had twenty seconds with him before.

So it fails at emotion. So what? So did the first. But the first had three points that I gave it credit for: decent plot, decent music, and a decent surprise ending. This one takes those only points that worked and deliberately sabotages them. The plot, a straightforward two-front war, suddenly becomes a convoluted mess. Is Krauser on the side of the Earth forces or the Nexrum? Who is Geist fighting for? Nobody knows who's fighting who and nobody cares. The music appears to be the same band from the original, which would be OK if the sequel were made in 1987 and not in 1996. M.D. Geist had two centerpiece songs that weren't wonderful, but were pleasantly memorable (enough that I taped one off onto a compilation tape back in the day). This has no worthwhile tunage whatsoever. And the only good thing about the ending is that Geist appears to finally be kaput. But the rest of it, well...the ending is dumb enough to make even a fan of Geist glad it's all over. The sole reason it gets a passing grade is that it's not boring, despite all.

I've spent far too much time dissecting this title when there are better things for me to watch. Suffice it to say that if you've not gotten enough of M.D. Geist, poor soul that you are, you'd likely be better off watching your old videotape again rather than venturing into this new territory.

M.D. Geist 2: Death Force -- graphic violence, nudity -- D