The Red Spectacles

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The Red Spectacles
Directed by Mamoru Oshii
Produced by Shigeharu Shiba
Daisuke Hayashi
Written by Kazunori Itō
Mamoru Oshii
Starring Shigeru Chiba
Machiko Washio
Hideyuki Tanaka
Music by Kenji Kawai
Cinematography Yosuke Mamiya
Edited by Seiji Morita
Distributed by Omnibus Promotion
Release dates
  • February 7, 1987 (1987-02-07)
Running time 116 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

The Red Spectacles (紅い眼鏡 Akai Megane?) is a 1987 Japanese film directed by Mamoru Oshii, co-written with Kazunori Ito, and starring Shigeru Chiba and Mako Hyodo.

This is the first film of the Kerberos saga and last episode in Oshii's Orwellian Watchdog of Hell feature trilogy.



For more details on this topic, see Kerberos saga chronicles.

Kerberos saga historical background and significant dates in both the real and fictitious history.


Summer 1995. With the arrival of the "Age of Cats" (猫の時代), the former Kerberos police unit is now disbanded. However one member remains, a stray dog who returns to his old roost after a three-years exile. This wild dog no longer has a master, but now the "Young Lady of Fate" (運命の少女) will guide him on his journey...


They were known as the "Watchdogs of Hell."

It is the end of the 20th century. The Metropolitan Police have begun to lose control of the city; crime runs rampant and people are no longer safe. The solution: the establishment of the Anti Vicious Crime Heavily Armored Mobile Special Investigations Unit. Created by men and women of high intellect and physical strength who had a particularly strong, even fanatical sense of justice, they were nicknamed "Kerberos",[1] and armed with special "reinforcement gear" body armor and heavy weaponry.

But what started as a noble and courageous effort to stop the onslaught of crime soon spiraled out of control. Their overzealous actions and fanatical hatred of evil soon led to less-than policeman-like behavior. Public criticism grew as their investigational tactics grew more aggressive, crueler, and more corrupt. The turning point occurred when a Kerberos member, during a routine investigation, beat a misdemeanor offender to death.

This was the catalyst, the justification to shut the group down forever and dissolve it completely. However, there were those in the Kerberos group that refused to disarm. Three of the elite rebelled against the system, and fought their way through the city. The other two become wounded, and were unable to escape capture. Only one—senior detective Koichi Todome—managed to escape, and he promises the others that he will return for them.

Several years later, Koichi, a fugitive from the government, returns home for reasons that seem unclear. The city has decayed at an exponential rate and is completely unlike the place he left behind. Everything is surreal and strange, blurred and nondescript. He wanders, trying to find some semblance of his past, trying to find his comrades left behind. But the city itself seems to resist him, and there are those who realize the threat Koichi imposes, that his return is more dangerous than anyone could realize.


For more details on this topic, see Kerberos saga characters.

Several of the cast members are voice actors and appeared in Urusei Yatsura, which Oshii worked on as chief director and head writer.

Related works[edit]

The Red Spectacles is the first film of the Kerberos saga and last episode in Oshii's Orwellian Watchdog of Hell feature trilogy. The second and third feature film of the trilogy are based on the Kerberos Panzer Cop manga series published by Kadokawa Shoten between 1988 and 1990. This manga is illustrated by Kamui Fujiwara and written by Mamoru Oshii. A sequel, Kerberos Saga Rainy Dogs, was launched in 2003 in collaboration with a different illustrator, Mamoru Sugiura.

While Waiting For The Red Spectacles (1987) is a radio drama prequel written by Kazunori Itō with an original soundtrack composed by Kenji Kawai.

In early April 2006, Mamoru Oshii theatrically released an animation movie, Tachiguishi-Retsuden based on key elements, including characters, from The Red Spectacles. This spin off is part of the Tachiguishi arc. In late April of the same year, the Japanese author launched a radio drama series Kerberos Panzer Jäger.

References and influences to other works[edit]


The Red Spectacles is probably Oshii's most literate feature work. Not only, dialogue and narrative parts are prominent over drama but the film contains a variety of philosophical concepts such as Free will and Determinism, mentioned through fables, like "The Magnet and the Iron Sands" and "The Ogre Saved by the Fisherman", or through classic poet-authors quotes, Shakespeare and Pushkin. The characters refers to European medieval tales and Greek mythology, such as oral versions of Little Red Riding Hood and the three-headed watchdog of Hell Cerberus.

  • The first cinema scene contains samples from the German version of The Longest Day, 1962.


On February 25, 2003, the DVD edition was made available in Japan as part of the Mamoru Oshii Cinema Trilogy anthology box set, which contained four DVDs and one soundtrack CD. On November 4 of the same year, a subtitled version of Akai megane was released in North America as both a single DVD and also as part of a US release of the box set. The US version of the trilogy box set has different box artwork and lacks the "Revisited Scene & Production" DVD of the Japanese version.

The American The Red Spectacles DVD edition was reprinted in 2004, and since then is only available in the box set which was printed three times as of 2006 and remains the only edition released outside Japan.


  1. ^ "Kerberos" is the original Greek form of "Cerberus".

External links[edit]