Sunday, December 23, 2001

Martian Sucessor Nadesico Prince of Darkness Movie

Genre: Sci-Fi / Comedy / Mecha
Parental Guidance Recommended
1998 Xebec / Nadesico Production Committee

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Cover Description:
A monumental project, known as the Hisago Plan, is aimed at building a ring of artificial colonies in the shape of an enormous spiral. Suddenly, an ability sets out to destroy these colonies one by one! With the ability to Boson Jump effortlessly, the U.E. Spacy appears to be powerless to stop it. In addition, a mysterious black Aestivalia has appeared. With amazing fighting skills, this strange Aestivalia appears to be a match even for a Gekiganger!

To add to the confusion, a conspiracy movement has started a civil war that threatens to gain dominance of space through force. Possessing the elusive technology lost on Mars, it seems that this new faction could succeed in their plans. Are these events somehow tied to the mysterious circumstances surrounding the deaths of Akito, Yurika, and Ines?

A bit more somber... >>> by skysenshi (12.23.2001 rev. 10.07.2003)

Before Vandread, there was Martian Successor Nadesico -- a sci-fi animation that attempted to bring back a wave of nostalgia while pushing the mech genre into the 21st century. Nadesico takes me back to a time when Voltes V was a household name in my country. If you've been an anime fan of the 70s, most particularly of mechs, this will most definitely strike a chord in your memory. Now for modern otaku, appreciation will likely be achieved upon looking at how beautiful artwork and animation were just before everyone else started going digital.

The TV series is one big junction of schemes that range from hysterically sidesplitting to downright depressing. The centerpiece of which is an anime within this anime that is known to the characters as Gekigangar 3. For those who weren't born in the 70s, Gekigangar is like a Voltes V knock-off. Remember the round, ultra colorful giant robots? The manual shading? The evil alien conspiracy, family-oriented drama, the Romeo and Juliet phenomenon...and the ultra-tight outfits? With all these, Nadesico stunningly showcases the evolution of mechs, especially when you start comparing robot Gekigangar to the Aestevalis, as well as the evolution of plotlines from colonization themes to more complex political misunderstandings. With characters that are far from stereotypical (or Gekigangar quality), you have nothing but pure entertainment in your hands. Most notable are the overly perky Captain Yurika, the unwilling pilot cum cook Akito Tenkawa, the mysterious Dr. Inez Fressange, the stoic whiz kid Ruri Hoshino, and the tragic love heroine Haruka Minato. You also have love polygons that are worthy of Macross. Yes, you might need a little backgrounder on classic Japanese cartoons to understand the in-jokes, but you don't have to be born in my decade to truly love this series. Nadesico is a masterpiece all by itself.

The Martian Successor Nadesico: Prince of Darkness movie is another matter entirely. You need to have seen the TV series in order to at least grasp what is happening in the film. Prince of Darkness starts off with our favorite lovebirds being...dead. The story begins years after the last episode, years after the Great War. The planets have allied and are now fighting against common disasters. A few interesting characters are introduced in the form of blonde playboy Saburouta Takasugi and whiny child genius Haley Makibi. The original crew are now older, wiser, and less prone to comical antics. Scarred. In other words, Prince of Darkness really is "darker" than its unusually funny predecessor. Like Rurouni Kenshin OAV is to the Rurouni Kenshin TV series.

A new coup d'etat is rising and camps that have once been enemies fight side-by-side. What it is all about? Well, if you've never seen the TV series, you would never understand. Actually, I have seen the TV series but the ambition of the new Martian Successors, the ones now staging the coup, still seems blurry to me. All I know is that boson jumping, a teleporting ability only inherent in Martians, have become common and they're using this as a tool in rebellion. Most Class A boson jumpers (the original Martians) have died during an accident of sorts, which is why the United Earth Federation have been regrouping troops and unearthing old knowledge.

The ending didn't quite sit well with me, though. It was so... unfinished. If you saw the series and thought it was missing a proper ending, well, the movie isn't quite as different as you'd expect it to be. I never saw the series to be unsatisfying. In fact, I kind of preferred the ending there. That had closure for the characters, if not the storyline. This? It's basically screaming for a fanfic.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 9; Story 7; Characters 9; Sounds 7

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