Archive for March 28th, 2008

Project BLUE: Earth SOS: “An Incredible Journey to a Past that Never Happened!”

Yes, the title there is a direct quote from the back of the DVD case of the first disc. Here is another quote: “2000 A.D. The revolutionary G-Reaction engine has changed history, opening endless possibilities for supersonic transport and space exploration!” I can’t make this up, ladies and gentlemen. This is how awesome Project BLUE: Earth SOS is, and the folks at ADV know exactly how to sell it.

Project BLUE: Earth SOS is a recent, six-episode OVA that ADV, in their infinite wisdom, picked up for release. I had a chance to catch a fansub of the first episode a year or so ago, but never really had the time to watch the second episode, and by then it was licensed, so I figured I’d just wait for DVDs. And, yes, they are worth the money.

Earth SOS is the brainchild of Komatsuzaki Shigeru (who I will freely admit I have no idea who he is, aside from a “legendary Japanese artist”; anyone want to fill me in?) and is a daring vision of a 2000 that strangely resembles what people thought the future would look like back in the 30s or 40s. In the first epiosde, Billy is listening to an old-fashioned radio for no other reason than for the animators to draw a really cool looking retro-futuristic radio set. It’s a wonderful setting, as I’m a big fan of things that take place around the turn of the century (I love Victorian Romance Emma and Baccano! for these very reasons) or, in fact, any point in relatively recent history that isn’t the modern world.

The plot itself revolves around an invasion of Earth by mysterious aliens who have really advanced technology. The plot also strongly resembles those of science fiction novels and stories from around the time period that the series drew its visual inspiration from. Fans of sophisticated storylines should look elsewhere–this series is about raw pulp power. Everything about the series is so retro you can’t help but love it. In the second episode, for instance, Captain Clayton takes it upon himself to blow up the alien’s particle beam cannon (note: visibly, he has nothing to blow up a particle beam cannon with at all). When he gets there, he coincidentally runs into the super-awesome pilot James, who just so happens to have a briefcase with a time bomb and six sticks of dynamite with him. Also coincidentally, Clayton just happens to be carrying a stash of hand grenades underneath his jacket (which, by the way, in case you ever forget his name, has CAPT. CLAYTON embroidered on it). With the magic of these six sticks of dynamite and four of Clayton’s hand grenades, the entire island the enemy fortress is on blows up. This is just episode two.

Strangely enough, due to the overall retro feel of the series, this sequence of events, which under normal circumstances would be treated as laughably bad writing, are instead moments where you cry “Yes!” at the television while watching and pump your fist in the air. It’s that awesome.

There was a chance line in episode two (something having to do with the fact that the aliens have all this advanced technology and are simply using it to invade and destroy, rather than applying it to any practical use) that might be a theme for the remaining four episodes, but as I’ve only seen the first two, we’ll just have to wait on that. In the meantime, however, pick up the first DVD of this series and give it a chance. It’s a fun ride, and, hey–it’s got a character named Lotta Brest in it (note: she has none), so it can’t be all bad. And you don’t want to make Billy angry, do you?

Spice and Wolf: The Sandwich Anachronism (Also, THE END)

I have no idea what a sandwich is doing in this fantasy land set in a time period that equates to a time period in our own world long before the Earl of Sandwich came up with the brilliant idea of taking two slices of bread, putting some roast beef and cheese between said pieces of bread, and then egotistically naming this new food concoction after himself because, after all, what are earls if not huge egomaniacs? Maybe in this fantasy land, Lawrence is actually the inventor of this tasty treat and in 300 years everyone in the world will refer to the bread-and-meat combination as a Lawrence.

I think the best part of this final episode was the initial talk between Lawrence and Horo (before they rush off to Defeat the Evil Merchants), although, really, the entire episode was essentially them bouncing off each other, to my great delight (the previous episode had been sorely lacking in this particular aspect of the series, but replaced it with Nora cuteness, so it was fine by me). The other best part of the episode was the final part, because (for once) Lawrence was effortlessly scoring points off Horo the entire time. That brought great glee to my face, and was certainly a great note to end the series on. There’s still the DVD-only episode 7, to go, too, but I have no idea what’s in that at all.

It’s telling of Horo’s character that she thinks highly enough of Lawrence that, despite his general uselessness and penchant for getting into sticky situations, and despite her general tsundere attitude towards him (I hesitate to use the word “tsundere” there, as she’s more complex than that), she still looks out for him, and even goes out of her way to not fight the rival wolf pack, so she could rescue Lawrence from the backstabbing merchants. We don’t know what her attachment to him is, unfortunately, and we can only begin to guess at it (I’m personally thinking “random whimsy”).

End of series thoughts: Overall, I thought the series was a very well-done work of suspense. It isn’t, say, Monster, but that’s setting the bar ridiculously high, since not everyone can be as Usasawa Naoki as Usasawa Naoki is. The fault for any general ambivalence towards it on my behalf isn’t necessarily the fault of the series itself, but with me. I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy watching it, but neither can I say I’m gung-ho about how awesome the series is, as a whole.  It delivered exactly what it promised, competently, and so, you can’t really fault the series for much of anything. I’m still looking forward to reading the novels to find out exactly how they’re put together. I don’t know if my wish will ever be granted, though…


I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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March 2008