Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Kwak Jae-Young’s Cyborg She Review, Many Moons Short Film

Cyborg She

Cute cover, no?

I get cravings for Asian cinema/television once in awhile. While there’s a lot of variety in American films, they’re also inherently bound to American culture and values, which can get tiresome after awhile. I mean, I live it, everyday. There’s just something about Asian culture that I love, particularly Korean and Japanese. The multiple tiers of linguistic politeness, the mannerisms, the humor, the gender specific speech, etc. I like to keep it strictly separate from American stuff though. Otherwise you get awkwardness like Quagmire dressing up as a geisha. Anyway, I am digressing.

Cyborg She, AKA 僕の彼女はサイボーグ AKA Boku no Kanojo Wa Cyborg AKA My Girlfriend is a Cyborg is a Japanese romantic-scifi-comedy written and directed by a Korean dude, the same guy who directed My Sassy Girl and Windstruck. I loved My Sassy Girl (the theatrical cut anyway; the director’s cut is filled with unnecessary bullshit), but Windstruck was flat out retarded.  Cyborg She, as suggested, is about a lonely guy who meets his dreamgirl, who turns out to be a cyborg.  She looks human, but acts very robot-like; however, she is capable of learning to be human. Think Terminator 2 + My Sassy Girl + AI. Sounds odd, but there’s lots of potential here.

From the start, I could see Kwak Jae-Young’s influence. The characters, particularly the male lead, portrayed a lot of, what I would deem, Korean entertainment mannerisms. For example, lip pursing. Korean actors and actresses occasionally purse their lips in a certain way that I really don’t see very much outside of Korean entertainment.  It was a bit out of place to see in Cyborg She. I don’t typically see that kind of behavior in Japanese media. It was almost like seeing the male lead from My Sassy Girl being copy-pasted into Cyborg She. Eventually, though, that all tones down as the movie progresses.

I would have to say that Haruka Ayase’s portrayal of an emotionless robot was the highlight of the film. There’s definitely homage to T2. She stands by the window, during her overwatch, night after night, kind of like Arnold at the gas station. She’s also referred to as a Cyberdyne model 103. The CG was a welcome surprise, as well. I usually think of CG in Asian film as inferior to Hollywood’s, but it was actually quite good in this movie.

The Uncanny Valley

Unfortunately, I think Kwak Jae-Young squanders the movie’s potential. I wanted to see Ayase’s evolution from cold-hearted mannequin to self-aware, feeling AI. Instead, she hardly changes at all, until towards the end, where she gets a little spark of emotion.  Even then, afterward, she’s still portrayed very robotically, resulting in a massive 20-day expedition into the uncanny valley.  Arnold Schwarzeneggar evolved better in his tale of a boy and his beloved death-dealing, robot father-figure. “I know now why you cry.” Kwak just spends too little time developing the bonds between the two, and when he tries, it’s simply too fleeting and weak.

Her little emotional spark then becomes the basis of some very large leaps of love (or rather, obsession), leading to an unhealthy amount of skepticism about the story. Why is the lad so attached to this cyborg? She barely feels anything for him, no, she barely feels, period. He might as well be hugging a very powerful, good looking Dell.  Old Yeller cared more.  It just makes him seem uncomfortably pathetic and obsessed.

In the end, Cyborg She tries to be too many things in too little time, and relegates itself to a physical-comedy/action flick with some creepy romance. An entertaining spectacle if you’re bored. 3/5 or a C+.

Oh, and this is an interesting coincidence. I found this Many Moons music video today from TOKiMONSTA’s blog, which happens to portray an android auction. There’s a cyborg auction in Cyborg She as well. There’s even some similar eye flicking going on. I wonder if someone from the Wondaland Arts Society saw Cyborg She. It’s kind of amazing how much an effect a woman’s hairstyle can have on a guy. Regardless of hairstyle, one can tell that Janelle Monae is very pretty, but there’s a brief shot of her in the video with long hair, and it’s like, daaaamn she is on fire!

About The Author


One Response to “Kwak Jae-Young’s Cyborg She Review, Many Moons Short Film”

  1. TOKiMONSTA says:

    Yea! That video rocks

Leave a Reply