A recently deceased teen is brought back as an Artificial Intelligence in this cheesy science-fiction action film. “Andromedia” begins like a typical high-school romantic drama, with young couple Mai (Hiroko Shimabukuro) and Yuu (Kenji Harada) dating and hanging out with their friends. On her way back from one of their dates, Mai is hit by a truck and killed. Her father, a computer programmer, has developed a system allowing him to use Mai’s memories to reconstruct and artifical computer model of her, which is named Ai (or A.I.). This incredible breakthrough in Artificial Intelligence is sought after by Mai’s half-brother Satoshi (Ryo Karato) and a shadowy American businessman (Christopher Doyle), who sends hitmen out to retreive the programme. Mai reaches out to Yuu and her friends to help her evade their attempts to seize her.
“Andromedia” stars members of girl-group ‘Speed’ and boy band ‘DaPump’, essentially a vehicle for these teenage pop-stars to flex their acting skills. The story is filled with plot-holes and illogical moments, slapstick comedy and melodramatic teen romance. The strongest element of the plot is the love story between Yuu and Mai as they try to navigate what their relationship is now one is no longer physically present. Both Hiroko Shimabukuro and Kenji Harada do a good job with these characters. Being band-members the cast have a good chemistry together as the group of friends, their relationships being the most believable part of the eccentric story around them. The story of a dangerous organization attempting to steal a powerful computer programme is somewhat generic, again based on the most tenuous premise, and often seems to be from a completley different film to the teen hijinks that comprise the rest of the action. The most striking example of this film being more of a platform for the cast rather than an attempt at serious drama comes part-way through when, after having survived an outrageous car chase, we are treated to a song and dance number that appears unrelated to anything before or after. If you can handle the cheap special effects, illogical science-fiction plot, and overly sentimental romance, “Andromedia” keeps up a strong pace, rarely pausing for you to consider exactly why anything is happening. The juxtaposition of teen drama with assassinations, car chases, and some fun cyberpunk elements later on, make for an entertaining if unserious film.
Buried under the trite romance and science-fiction tropes, the film touches on a number of interesting ideas. Mai’s rebirth as an Artificial Intelligence lends itself to exploration of the distinctions and limitations between machine intelligences and humans. In some of the most powerful moments we see Ai’s desire to smell the sea or touch Yuu, something that a computer will never be able to experience. In one brief but impactful scene we see Satoshi becoming one with a machine he has built, suspended Christ-like amongst the wires. Themes of transhumanism, the religious significance of our increasing reliance on machines, and potential progress towards further integration with them, suggest unexplored depths beneath the film’s surface narrative. Overall, the film feels like a strong science-fiction concept hindered by having to accommodate the stars of these two pop-groups, meaning a watering down of the harder elements and an inability to truly develop some of its more interesting ideas.