Plot: Several hundred years in the future, earth has ventured out into the reaches of space and successfully colonized. In the meantime, earthlings have met with beings from many other planets and star systems, and after time they have reached an age of widespread peace amongst all species. Out in space is a prestigious academy called Cosmo Academy, and those few who are able to pass their final tests will be guaranteed positions of power in basically any field that they choose. Graduating from this place is viewed as one of the highest honors and achievements. Tada has made it to the final exam, which consists of being teamed with nine other individuals and left on a ship, completely on their own, for 60 days. If one person fails in their duties on board, they all fail. If they call for help, they all fail.
However, there’s one problem. Their team was supposed to consist of ten people, yet there are eleven people when they arrive. Someone’s not meant to be on the ship. At best, they’re a stowaway mooching a free ride or trying to sneak into the test. At worst, they mean to do great harm to the students. Can they survive until the exam ends?
Warning – All sorts of spoilers
Another feature I caught onto from reading THEM anime reviews, and they didn’t really like it, even in spite of the three star rating. In fact, they said it’d probably be good MST3K material. Well, ouch.
However, as I was watching it, I thought it was perfectly fine. Definitely not without its flaws, mostly in the plot holes, but it wasn’t bad in my opinion, nor was it laughably bad.
The premise is really interesting to me. While not the most original story in the world, they do manage to do some interesting things with it. The characters, barring one, are all pretty likable and even the ones who get on your nerves really only do so with understandable circumstances. They redeem themselves several times so that’s not much to gripe about.
While I’m talking about the characters, let’s go through them.
Toto Ni – I’ll be starting out with the least seen/least important characters. Obviously in an hour and a half long movie, eleven characters are difficult to flesh out. Not to say they didn’t all have their moments, but some we learn little to nothing about. Toto ni seems to be the youngest of the group. An alien from the Sava group, the best I can figure from the prologue is that he wants to learn about plant life. Toto ni is a wimpy little kid who doesn’t say or do much. In fact, I was pretty much wondering how he got so far into the test to begin with.
Chaco Kacka – A Terran (basically their new fancy name for ‘earthling’) Chaco…exists. He gets more screen time than Toto ni, but he has no real personality. He apparently starts a small trading company….Dunno why you’d go to such lengths for a small trading company but whatever.
Dolph Tasta – Another Terran, Dolph is….something else. He’s our resident doofy looking fat guy with an equally doofy voice (by Steve Blum, yay!) And I swear to god, if Chumlee from YGOGX had an ancestor in the distant future, Dolph would be it. They look so much alike, barring the hair, it’s scary. And oh yeah, he has a big red nose…..and his name is DOLPH…..and his nickname is literally ‘red nose’…..Uh huh. He wants to be a judge of the interstellar court.
Vidmenir Knume – From a non-aligned nation called Vidnu, Knu, as he’s called, is one of the only aliens here who actually looks like a damned alien. He’s a scaly very tall….human-like creature. I take what I can get. Knu is always extremely calm, and is commonly the voice of reason in the group. He also seems very knowledgeable on several subjects. Knu apparently went on to be a poet……a poet….you went through all this to be a poet. Not really too surprised, but come on. When you’re guaranteed basically any job you want by passing this insanely long and difficult test, why aspire to be a poet?
Ganigus Gagtos – Nicknamed Ganga, where he is from is never explained, but he’s definitely not from earth. On his planet, a terrible disease plagues basically every person, and no one has an expected life span past the age of 30 because of it. He’s an experimental subject in that his blood was replaced with some kind of algae that is meant to combat this disease. Ganga is a very mature, smart and responsible person who is one of Tada’s loyalest allies. He’s taking the test in order to gain the knowledge and resources to rid his people of this disease forever.
Doricas Soldam IV – Another alien who looks exactly like a damn human, except his weird orange and blue jumpsuit, Doricas is one of the irritating ones in that he is constantly pointing fingers accusing people of being ‘the eleventh’, insulting people and just being unpleasant. He doesn’t tend to let his irritating behavior and attitude get in the way of their jobs, but he does get pretty grating. He aspires to be an administrator of his planet.
Amazon Carnias – Another Terran, though where on earth he’s from I don’t know. Would it be too obvious to think it’s the Amazon? He’s from some place where hunting is a huge part of their lives, and has numerous scars covering his body from fierce hunting trips. He’s not very mature and tends to goof off a lot, but he’s also one of the group who seems to fly off the handle with accusations very quickly. Despite this, he can keep a level head when needed and seems very skilled. He ends up becoming a….musician? Seriously? Didn’t he say earlier that he wanted to be a space engineer? How’d he go from that to musician? I know he showed he loved music, but he specifically stated that his goal was space engineering.
King Mayan Baceska – Mayan is simply taking the test as a challenge since he’s already the king of a nation/planet. As such, he’s pretty much immediately set as the leader of the group. Mayan does carry himself like a king. He’s very refined and logical, and he tries to make decisions for the better of the group as a whole and not just himself. While he is the most suspicious one of the group, he tries not to point fingers and instead backs his suspicions with evidence. He also doesn’t work as a dictatorship. He utilizes voting and respects the opinions of all of the other group members. Despite this, he can still fly off the handle and act irrationally.
Glenn Groff – The only other semi-alien-looking alien here, Glenn’s basically human looking barring the bump on his head and red pupils. Glenn’s a very respectful and kind individual who does his best to help. You know how I mentioned there was an epilogue? Well it’s one of those epilogues that shows still frames of the characters followed but a short excerpt of what happened to them after the movie.
Glenn died. Yeah, he died while trying to protect one of his students during training. Thanks movie. He was a really likable character to just kill off for no reason. What is this? Stand by Me?
Frolbericheri Frol – Oh dear God….I watched this movie for ten minutes and thought ‘well, this actually seems like a good movie. What are the complaints about?’ and then she opened her mouth. My god, what a grating sack of crap. From the second she’s on screen, she’s yelling and screaming and getting into fights. Granted, she has a bit of a reason. She looks exactly like a girl (I’ll get to that in a minute) and the group is flabbergasted when they discover a WOMAN on board.
Let me put this into perspective. When Knu, scaly giant, took off his helmet and revealed his face, the group was slightly taken aback. When Glenn, bumpy headed demon eyes, did the same, they also were slightly perturbed. Frol takes off her helmet and they all audibly GASP and look like she just ate her own face. How is it that this takes place in a universe where basically galaxy-wide peace and acceptance has been established yet sexism is still alive and well? Hell, it seems like it’s gotten much worse.
From her outburst at their assumptions, I just thought that she didn’t like being treated like a woman, especially in a group of guys, but much later on we’re under the impression that her outburst of being insulted at being called a woman insinuated that she wasn’t one, and that she was just a really feminine guy and has been treated as such the whole time. I don’t recall them ever addressing her as ‘he’ so it threw me for a loop when the big reveal comes later on.
The big reveal in question is when she goes to take a shower. That’s when we see that she’s completely flatchested and has the physique of a guy, basically. The fact that Amazon doesn’t react to her taking off her shirt is what first indicated that she was being treated as a he. Later, when an incident occurs in the shower, Amazon sees her full-frontal and realizes that her basement has neither a box nor a joystick.
Frol has no genitalia, and she’s I guess a reverse hermaphrodite…Right? Hermaphrodites have both male and female genitals so having neither would be a reverse? On her planet, everyone’s born as a hermaphrodite, but treated as a girl. When a person reaches adulthood, they are given hormone injections to allow them to become either a man or woman. Under government law, only first borns have the choice of becoming male or female. Everyone else is forced to become a woman. Because of this, females greatly outnumber males, but men basically have it made. They have the freedom to do whatever they want, and due to the greatly uneven ratio of men to women, they commonly practice polygamy.
Women are basically forced to be housewives and pop out children. Frol made an agreement with her government. If she passes the test at Cosmo Academy, she can become a man and live a cushy misogynist life bangin’ all the chicks. If not, she has to become a woman. A prospect so awful she cries about it several times. Eek.
Frol may have the most fleshed out story, even in deep competition to our actual main character, but she’s so unlikable and annoying. She has a Southern accent, however the hell that works considering she’s from another damn planet, and all she does is complain and yell and scream and bitch and moan and act pushy and urhghghgh.
Wanna know something else? She’s voiced by Wendee Lee. Yeah, one of the few female VA’s with a huge range from guy to girl and an equally large range between great and grating, provides the super annoying hick voice of this chick. You make me sad.
What’s even worse is how her story ends. She contracts an illness which forces the crew to call for a rescue, which is grounds for failure. She’s devastated because she can’t wait three years for the next test before she’ll be forced to become a girl and Tada offers to have her come to his planet, as a woman, and marry him, another thing I’ll get to in a minute. Their romance has been a bit forced, mostly because Tada seems awkward when he’s in romantic or flirty situations, Frol is too annoying to root for and their chemistry is kinda off, but whatever. However, we reveal later on that because they made such good decisions during their test and made the right decision in saving Frol, they actually come out first in their class and pass with flying colors.
So yay she gets to be a guy now and live a good life, right? Nope, she decides to be a woman and live as a housewife with Tada. Yeah, she despised and feared the thought of being a woman and a housewife so much that she went though all of these trials, tribulations and red tape to get the chance at being made into a man and cried over the fear of possibly not getting her wish yet in the end she chooses to be a woman and a housewife because pbbbbttt love? Why can’t she be a man and marry Tada? If this truly is a universe of peace and acceptance, I can’t see how they’d have an issue with a gay couple. Isn’t she committing a bigger sin by being the bane of all galazy-wide existence IE a woman?
They don’t even say she does anything else in the epilogue. She and Tada graduated and got married was their little excerpt. Great use of that Cosmo Academy degree or whatever it is.
Tadatos Lane – Tada is our main character. He’s an empath who slowly starts learning things about his past while on the ship. I don’t understand how he can be as insanely smart as he is and have such a good ‘intuition’ yet he doesn’t remember incredibly scarring and impacting moments from when he was four.
Tada’s very likable, but he’s pretty bland. They don’t really explain what he wants to do once he passes his test. He just wants to achieve the high honor and score a great job. They don’t even explain what he did after the events of the movie besides marry Frol.
His backstory is pretty interesting, but like I said it’s a little confusing that he’s so smart and intuitive yet he can’t remember very important events from when he was four. Including his mother dying before his eyes. I get that four is a very young age, but some people can remember stuff from when they were as young as two. I can kinda remember some stuff from four years old. Why does he seem to suffer from amnesia about this?
Now that the characters are out of the way, let’s address the plot holes and issues with the script.
They specifically state that Tada just has ‘a very good intuition’ and isn’t psychic, yet mere seconds later he’s touching palms to get a clear ‘reading’ on whether on not people are lying and it’s solidified that his talents are indeed ESP.
Why were all those bombs on the ship? I find it hard to believe that all of those bombs were put there by the instructors.
Why did Tada turn down the cooler thing if he wasn’t influenced or ‘the eleventh?
What was the purpose of influencing Tada to turn the circuit back on if not to injure Ganga?
Why is Ganga not punished for sneaking on board the ship? How does sneaking on board even help him in regards to the test? Surely they’d find out what he did and disqualify him.
And probably the biggest plot hole….How was Glenn the eleventh if Ganga ADMITTED he was the eleventh? Both of them weren’t meant to be there, and Glenn was purposely planted to throw the count off to create a situation to test the team. Wouldn’t that mean that there should’ve been twelve people in that team? Why were they even asking ‘but who was the eleventh?’ at the rescue ship when, like I said, Ganga admitted it earlier? Granted, I never would’ve guessed that either Ganga or Glenn were the eleventh. Well, maybe Ganga a little because of the fact that he kept getting injured and making Tada look guilty, but not Glenn. He was just relevant enough to be a valid surprise yet kept hidden enough to not be obvious. Still, the reveal kinda doesn’t work when you already had an eleventh established.
Art: The art and animation aren’t great, but they’re perfectly fine for the year. There’s much worse that has come out of 1986. The character designs are decent enough even if Chaco, Dolph and Tada have dumb hair styles and some of the color choices are kinda weird.
Music: The music’s forgettable, but pretty nice.
Voice Acting: English dub by the now defunct Central Park Media – The acting on some of the characters such as Tada, voiced by Curtis Jones are a little hokey. Hell, even Steve Blum himself delivers some lame dialogue. I can’t really fault him on those few lines though. Not even his dulcet vocal cords could save some of these lines.
Speaking of Mr. Blum, he actually voices three characters here; Dolph, Amazon and Mayan, and he exercises quite a bit of range here. However, it should be noted that he uses a different pseudonym for each credit. He’s credited as David Lucas for Mayan, Steven Jay for Dolph and David Jeremy for Amazon. Hell, David Jeremy isn’t even listed on his Wiki as one of his pseudonyms. Steve Jay is the biggest clue as his full name is Steven Jay Blum, but why use that credit on Dolph when the best work in this feature was as Mayan?
Other than Frol, everyone else was decent.
Additional Information and Notes: They were 11 was produced by Kitty Film. It was directed by Satoshi Dezaki and Tsuneo Tobinaga. The film was based on a manga by Moto Hagio.
Runtime: 91 minutes
Bottomline: Yes, there are glaring plotholes and inconsistencies with the story. Yes, it’s very dated. Yes, some of the epilogue entries are just dumb. However, I don’t find it bad at all. The situations are tense, the characters can be fun when they have time to relax, and you do care for most of them even if you don’t learn a great deal about some of them. The premise is pretty interesting and they do bring enough to the table in terms of twists and other parts of the story such as Tada’s connection to the ship to spice things up a bit more. You could probably make a riff on this, but it would never be my first choice of MST3K material. It’s just not that bad and there is so much worse out there. I’d gladly watch it again, and anyone who’s up for that warm old animation style, some interesting situations and maybe some cheesiness, I’d gladly recommend it. It’s not perfect, but I had fun.
Recommended Audience: No blood, some incredibly minor violence, no nudity, no sex, hell they’re even too shy to talk about genitalia in the proper terms. E for everyone.