It’s hard to make a rip-off of X-Men without hundreds of millions of dollars to back up the production. With a relatively minimal budget, any version of the mutants with superpowers who have to fight other mutants with (better) superpowers is going to be a less interesting film. In order to stand out, it has to do something unique, something to make you think, “I was only thinking about X-Men most of the time” rather than, “I’d rather watch X-Men: The Last Stand” (the latter of which is just about the cruelest thing you could say).
Strayer’s Chronicle stands out because it takes the whole mutant thing and adds physical and psychological breakdowns to the equation. They weren’t really “born” mutants so much as they were “created” mutants. There were two types: one created by stressing pregnant mothers and the other by directly changing DNA. When the stressed mutants overuse their powers, they go insane. (A past member of the group went so crazy that he literally crushed his own head (I think).) Modified mutants, on the other hand, are designed to die. Their powers age their cells rapidly, and they aren’t intended to exist past their teens. And since they weren’t meant to live long enough to raise offspring, they cannot reproduce.
Much of the film, in between acceptable-at-best action sequences, is spent forlornly contemplating the end. The end of their lives and also the end of humanity in general. Because everything will come to an end, whether mutants accelerate that process or not. By delving into the apparent consequences of trying to play god, it makes for an interesting discussion piece. I don’t know that it’s “profound,” but it was a valiant attempt to even try. The effects are meh. The action is low key. Characters across the board change motivations on a dime and are impossible to keep track of. But through it all is that constant reminder: We will all die someday. And that oh-so-bleak take on an overused conceit makes Strayer’s Chronicle worth seeing.
Strayer’s Chronicle (Sutoreiyazu Kuronikuru | ストレイヤーズ・クロニクル)
Director: Takahisa Zeze