Starring: Hiroko Shimabukuro, Kenji Harada, Ryo Kara
I've been trying to find more movies from the mid-'90s that have visualizations of the Internet experience. I find it fascinating the various attempts to make code and early websites look visually appealing. This search led me to Andromedia, a film by Takashi Miike.
Mai (Hiroko Shimabukuro) is your average teenaged schoolgirl who has a nice group of close friends. Yuu (Kenji Harada) has been her friend since they were kids but now she has romantic feelings towards him and it has caused a rift between her and her girlfriends. Yuu and Mai have a special spot where they've always gone to play or be together; an always blossoming cherry tree that somehow exists on the beach. Mai and Yuu kiss and it seems their relationship is about to change from friends to more. After a nice day together, Mai is walking home when she is run over by a truck.
Mai's father is a computer whiz who had recorded all of Mai's memories to disc. When she dies, he transfers her memories to a digital version AI, who then becomes Mai in the computer. The bad guys have been watching Mai's dad and know that he has activated this program. They want his technology so they break in to his house and kill him, but as he dies he unplugs Mai from his computer and pushes her into the web. She shows up on the school computer where Yuu is. He is able to transfer her program to a laptop and take her everywhere. Yuu meets up with Mai's friends and they all go to the beach. Mai is very happy for being recently deceased, she even though can't smell the salt of the ocean. The bad guys continue to track down Mai, they have order from some English speaking guy in either the US or Canada. They release a virus to attack Mai. At the same time, Yuu is chased by the henchmen on foot but he keeps running with laptop Mai. He happens to run into the boy band Da Pump who are driving home from a bathhouse in a VW beetle. Yuu gets a ride but the bad guys are hot on their trails. This is where things get really wacky. The bad guys manage to mess with the air conditioning system in the beetle so it gets really hot then really cold in the car. The VW's steering wheel even comes off for a moment. Da Pump and Yuu manage to jump out of the car before it goes over a cliff and bursts in flames.
A deadly car chases doesn't get Da Pump down, they all head to their cool fire themed club house where they sing their hit song and do a dance routine. It comes out of nowhere, but I appreciated it since the movie was getting really slow.
It turns out that Mai has a half brother who is also a computer whiz, but has a brain aneurysm that is going to kill him. He has wants Mai for some reason, maybe just to make sure the bad guys can't get to her. He built the mass of computers and cables that are still in the high school's computer lab. That is where Yuu found Mai.
The bad guys find all the girlfriends and bring in the mega computer/server farm. They want Mai, I still don't know what they want to do with the technology or her specifically. Yuu shows up with Mai in the laptop, Rika is held hostage and will be shot if Yuu doesn't give the bad guy Mai. Yuu can't let her go, luckily one of her friends saves Rika's life by grabbing the laptop out of Yuu's grip. All the friends manage to escapes after the bad guy uses the AI program to access his memories the end up destroying him. All the girlfriends are friends even if there is some strange feeling floating around because Rika also likes Yuu. All the friends again meet on the beach, but Mai is ready to say goodbye. Yuu still can't let go and I was convinced he was going to drown himself along with computer Mai. Instead computer Mai is drowned in the ocean while Yuu floats around.
Mai's half brother meets his end by being crucified by his pile of computer monitors and wires. I did not understand what was going on with him. The dynamic between all the friends was really confusing, it took me awhile to understand that all the girlfriends were estranged because both Mai and Rika liked Yuu. Yuu is obsessed with digital Mai in a really unhealthy way, she's just a talking laptop.
I typically enjoy the dated outfits of older movie but it seems that the average Japanese teenaged girl has been wearing the same outfit for 30 years: over-sized sweater, short pleated plaid skit, thick socks, and little tennis shoes.
This movie is slow and confusing, the weird dance montage doesn't make it worth it. Digital Mai is pretty cool but she doesn't interact with the Internet very much.