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 is a 1987 Japanesemarker feature film directed by Mamoru Oshii, co-written with Kazunori Ito, and starring Shigeru Chiba and Mako Hyodo.

The Red Spectacles is the Kerberos saga's first movie and last episode in Oshii's Orwellian, dystopian 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.

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.

Prequel (1987)

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



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" (loose Japanese translation of "Cerberus" ), 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.


References & influences to other works

Possible inspirations

The most obvious inspirations in Akai megane's dystopian story are probably Chris Marker's avant-garde black and white science fiction short film La Jetée and George Orwell's 1984. However, the totalitarian Tokyo of 2001 imagined and described by Oshii back in 1987, is anachronistic (e.g. the Londonianmarker Austin FX4 '50s taxicabs) and politically ambiguous with two antagonistic forces, the Dogs and the Cats, whose successive regimes are named "Ages".The serious tone of the film is tempered by elements of black humor. A strong influence on this film is Godard, to whom Oshii self-admitted borrows his anti-conformist view of screenplay [[[Mamoru Oshii#Quotes|1]]]. The torture and philosophical dialogue scenes seems reminiscent of Godard's political black and white 1960 film, Le Petit Soldat.

The use of stylised sepia photography in contrast with the realism of full colour scenes was further developed in Oshii's later live-action film, Avalon.

The Dogs (Kerberos) uniforms are mainly inspired by the 1940s German Schutzstaffel and the Protect-Gear suits are inspired by the samurai armor (yoroi).

Maneki neko (beckoning cats) are appearing in The Red Spectacles, as a metaphor for a structural change in the society Todome left in 1998. It incarnates the "Age of Cats". In a video interview (available on the DVD of Jin Roh) Oshii states he his fascinated and focuses on warriors who are not adapted to the world they live in and they perish for that.


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.


Akai Megane VHS (Japan)
In 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.


  • 1987.XX.XX: Original Soundtrack Akai Megane [LP] (King Record, K20G-7317)
  • 1987.12.21: Original Soundtrack Akai Megane Special [CD] (King Record, K30X-7103)
  • 2003.03.26: Kenji Kawai Cinema Anthology [5CD] (King Record / Star Child, KICA-9601~4)


  • 1987.03.28: Akai Megane [VHS] (Bandai Visual, BES-164/BEB-164)
  • 1987.07.28: Akai Megane [LD] (Bandai Visual, BELL-127)
  • 2003.02.25: Mamoru Oshii Cinema Trilogy [4DVD+1CD] (Bandai Visual, BCBJ-1519)
  • 2003.11.04: Mamoru Oshii Cinema Trilogy [3DVD+1CD] (Bandai Entertainment, 2430)
  • 2003.11.04: Mamoru Oshii Cinema Trilogy [3DVD+1CD] (Bandai Entertainment, 2430)
  • 2003.11.04: The Red Spectacles [DVD] (Bandai Entertainment, 2431B)
  • 2003.11.04: The Red Spectacles [DVD] (Bandai Entertainment, 2431B)



  1. "Kerberos" is the original Greek form of "Cerberus".
  2. Making of Jin Roh, DVD published by CTV Int'l, 2000, France


  • Mamoru Oshii Cinema Trilogy DVD box set.

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