L/R: Licensed by Royalty: Mission File 1: Deceptions
Review by Cynthia Ward · February 1, 2004 | My first exposure to L/R: Licensed by Royalty was a DVD trailer that sparked two thoughts: "This looks really bad" and "Bill and Ted's Excellent Anime!" My thoughts were catty, and as penance for my sin, I've been assigned to review the DVD L/R Licensed by Royalty: Mission File 1: Deceptions.

The DVD collects the first four episodes of L/R, a TV series whose intended audience is difficult to decipher. The DVD case suggests "16 up," but this anime isn't nearly sophisticated enough for contemporary sixteen-year-olds. It's also not nearly sophisticated enough for its genre.

L/R emulates 1960s secret-agent and caper movies (think James Bond and Ocean's Eleven) as it follows the adventures of blond smoothie Jack Hofner and Keanu Reeves doppelgänger Rowe Rickebacker. An elite secret-agent team known as "L/R," they serve the royal family of Ishtar, a fictional Middle-European country that must share a border with Cagliostro. Alas, L/R doesn't deliver the secret-agent movie essentials: unpredictable plot twists, sinister supervillains, and willing beauties.

L/R: Licensed by Royalty: Mission File 1
Pioneer Entertainment, 2002
Directed by Itsuro Kawasaki
100 minutes

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L/R doubles the traditional hunk quota, and features a running joke about which agent is code-named "L" or "Left" and which is "R" or "Right." Though the series won't please many secret-agent fans, it'll provide plenty of fodder for homoerotic fan fiction about the true nature of Hofner and Rickebacker's relationship.

What's Good: Great art; good tunes; double-your-pleasure hunks.

What's Bad: Predictable stories; few and insipid villains; no sex or nudity.

DVD Features: Anamorphic widescreen; bilingual audio (English 2.0/Japanese 2.0); English subtitles; non-credit and Japanese opening and closing credits.
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