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Review: Good versus evil in 'The Mystical Laws'

The religion known as Happy Science is explained as a sci-fi anime action-adventure.

October 18, 2012|By Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times
  • A scene from "Mystical Laws."
A scene from "Mystical Laws." (Handout )

Conceived and underwritten by Ryuho Okawa, leader of a Japanese religious group known as Happy Science, the anime film "The Mystical Laws" is a strange mix of action-adventure and religious sermon, "G-Force" meets a Chick tract.

Credited to director Isamu Imakake, the film's sincerity in breaking down its religious teachings to a level of digestible, childlike simplicity also makes it reminiscent of those Bible adventure kids cartoons that used to be a staple of Christian cable channels, albeit with a sci-fi twist and Buddhist underpinnings.

Set in the year 202X the film involves a Darth Vader/Emperor Palpatine-ish evil leader with a preference for swastika-like logos who has begun a push for world domination known as the Godom Empire with the aid of a mysterious woman who has access to fantastic, unheard-of technologies.

A resistance movement, a seeming mix of diplomats and monks, appoints a young man to be their new leader, referred to as "the light of hope." Various battles, a lot of exposition and at least one resurrection follow as the two sides fight for the very soul and future of mankind on Earth.

"The Mystical Laws" works neither as a straightforward sci-fi anime nor as a recruitment and advancement tool for the beliefs of Happy Science. Knowing not to leave your audience disengaged and a bit bored isn't mystical, that's just a law of showbiz.

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"The Mystical Laws." No MPAA rating; in Japanese with English subtitles. Running time: 2 hours. At Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex, Santa Monica.

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