‘“X-Men” with androids’ would be a lazy way to describe this animated adventure based on a wildly popular Japanese manga. But there’s more to ‘009’ than superpowered action: this is a genuinely engaged (if not always wholly engaging) parable about global terrorism and corporate greed. It’s also a bizarre but compelling reflection on humanity’s relationship to God. A spate of bombings has brought down 34 of the world’s most famous buildings, and the seemingly unconnected bombers all claim that ‘his voice’ persuaded them to do it. Joe Shimamura and his fellow cyborg superheroes swoop in to investigate, but find themselves up against the US military, the shady Samuel corporation and – perhaps – the Almighty himself.
From that oblique, meaningless title on down, ‘009 Re: Cyborg’ suffers from many of the flaws that plague big-screen manga adaptations: a huge weight of backstory, an overloaded plot and a bizarre predeliction for screechy electric guitars on the soundtrack. But it’s beautifully animated – the climactic sequence in Earth orbit is breathtaking – and its philosophical digressions are fascinating, if completely bananas.