Chocolate Underground: Fighting the Power for confectioneries

Chocolate Underground is a short ONA from 2008. It was brought to us by Production IG & Trans Arts. Because it’s completely necessary to have two studios work on thirteen episodes that run for five minutes each. It’s based off of the novel Bootleg, by British novelist Alex Shearer. You know, the bloke what wrote The Greatest Store in the World. That’s the actual title, not me praising him. It was directed by Hamana Takayuki. Who also did director work on Prince of Tennis, which I haven’t seen but am bringing up because it’s well known & directed a few episodes of Psycho Pass, which isn’t a bad sign. So, let’s look at the ONA and see how well it holds up.

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Story:

Our narrative is set in a dystopian future where the Good For You party has banned all sweets, including chocolate. You wouldn’t think that would be a winning political platform but they were against Cyborg Trump and Mecha Theresa May. Two lads with names that sound like they should go with raider bosses in Fallout, Smudger and Huntley, are determined to eat chocolate again. So, they set out to find people who are illegally manufacturing and distributing it. Which starts them on their own path to stand up to the Good For You party.

Honestly, there are a lot of minor issues here that the target audience will likely not notice. The absurd, overblown action sequences of chocolate detecting robots chasing our heroes are quite silly. At one point one of our heroes somehow manages to escape from an internment facility in the old “one child stands on another’s shoulders with a heavy coat over them” routine that would never work. There are several completely gratuitous, one-sided crushes that do nothing but waste time. Seriously, these episodes are around five minutes each. We don’t need filler. We also get a lot of ridiculous “purple prose” moments where our heroes are just talking about the unbridled majesty that is chocolate. I know she has that heavily sexualised dominatrix outfit, but that’s taking things a bit far, isn’t it? These kids act like she saved all of humanity while writing episodes of the best kids’ show out there.

With all that being said, the overblown aesthetic does have its appeal. I will also give the series credit for having a strong sense of tension. The episodes are short, so each one has to concisely end at a point that will get people interested in what’s coming next and give it somewhere to go. Which the series manages very well. It’s also where the series gets its strongest moments.

Characters:

The biggest issue with the characters is that they aren’t the most consistent group out there. There are a couple kids who are established early on as being very obedient towards the party. One might even say zealous for it, but then they change sides with no foreshadowing or prior indication that something wasn’t kosher about their relation to the party. As a whole, the characters are just kind of mediocre. They’re very basic archetypes. The only character who really moves beyond that is one who seems like a generic bad guy but turns out to be actually doing what he thinks is the will of the people which results in a shift that makes sense.

Art:

On the positive side, the character designs are nicely done. The animation is fairly smooth and the action sequences, though they can be ridiculous, are interesting to watch. On the negative side, a lot of the world objects, especially vehicles, look very low effort. Almost like the artists spent about ten minutes drawing them in a basic paint program and called it acceptable.

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Sound:

the acting is passable. The performances aren’t brilliant. I’ve heard better from Toyonaga Toshiyuki, Mizusawa Fumie, Takahashi Mikako & Nakagawa Rie. That being said, they aren’t bad performances either. They’re functional. I could say the same for the music, actually.

Ho-yay:

There is none. All the entirely pointless one-sided crushes are het.

Final Thoughts:

So, that’s Chocolate Underground, based on the children’s book, Bootleg. All in all, I think it’s a work that small children can enjoy. As for its appeal to older audiences, it’s all right. It’s probably not the type of kid’s show you’d seek out if you weren’t actively trying to entertain a child, but it’s one you could put on without being annoyed or even finding something else to occupy yourself with. My final rating is going to be a 6/10. Next week I’ll take a look at Tsuritama.

June Bonus Review: Muppet Fairy Tales

chances are you’re at least passingly familiar with The Muppets,  a franchise created by Jim Henson and based around a lovable cast of quirky puppets. The Muppet show started way back in the mid-70s and was a rousing success. It spawned a lot of films, specials, sequels and more. Today, I’m going to be looking at a direct to video instalment, Muppet Fairy Tales. It was released in ’94, a couple years before Muppet Treasure Island. 

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Story:

We  open with Gonzo the whatever and Rizzo the rat introducing the idea for the film. A series of fairy tale adaptations based on the Three Little Pigs, King Midas, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Rumpelstiltskin, The Emperor’s New Clothes & The Elves and the Shoemaker. All told in the iconic Muppet style.

That might be the biggest flaw with the work. We have six different fairy tales, and a variety of transition shenanigans, in around an hour and a quarter. As a result, it doesn’t feel like they take full advantage of any of the scenarios.

That being said, what they do have is pretty solidly done. The meta humour is nicely executed and there are a lot of really funny scenes. The way they learn Rumpelstiltskin’s name, Ms. Piggy against the big bad wolf & Rizzo tricking Emperor Fozzie are all great moments that lead to an enjoyable viewing experience.

Characters:

I can’t really claim they include all your favourite muppets in this. The main ones we see are Gonzo, Rizzo, Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie & Robin. There are several noticeably absences like Rowlf, Sam & Electric Mayhem. I’d include Tim Curry but he wouldn’t become an honorary muppet for a couple years. Honestly, I  think they made the right call. They don’t need every single character to show up just for the sake of having them and the cast they have works well for what they’re doing.

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Cinematography & Visuals:

There are quite a few well done aspects to the visuals. The muppets themselves are well designed. I like the set designs too. They’re deliberately designed to look like something you’d see in a community theatre. The biggest issue with the visuals is the choreography  for the musical numbers. Yes, every fairy tale has a song attached to it and most of them are pretty lazy with the choreography. The first one we get has Miss Piggy and the other little pigs kind of wandering in circles while occasionally stepping forward to sing to the camera. The Rumpelstiltskin one pretty much involves the characters swaying from side to side. Yeah, I get that they’re working with puppets here but they could do something more visually interesting.

Acting & Music:

All in all, the acting is well done. Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire and Frank Oz are all in their traditional roles, this was after Whitmire took over as Kermit. There is an awkward moment where Goelz takes over as Rizzo for a brief scene but it’s only for a couple lines and not a big issue. That being said, the musical numbers in this are weak. There have been a lot of excellent Muppet songs over the years. The Rainbow Connection, Saying Goodbye, Moving Right Along, I’m Going to Go Back There Someday, Together Again and many others. In this one, the songs are really repetitive and serve to hammer in the moral or a plot point. The only song I kind of liked was the parody one used in the last fairy tale. Aside from that, it’s just very lacklustre.

Final Thoughts:

There are certainly things that could have been done better and there are better pieces of Muppets media out there. That being said, it’s not a bad little piece by any means. It has plenty of charm, some strong funny moments and it’s ultimately fun. If you’re a fan of the Muppets, consider giving it a look. For myself, I give it a solid 7/10.

Futari wa PreCure: Max Heart Film 2- Yukizora no Tomodachi

I’ve talked about the PreCure franchise quite a bit. Including Futari wa, Max Heart, & the first Max Heart film. Thus far, the weakest thing I’ve seen for the franchise was the mediocre Max Heart. The first film based off of that series managed to avoid a lot of its problems and turned out pretty well. Hopefully, the same will hold true for this week’s fare. Futari wa PreCure: Max Heart Movie 2- Yukizora no Tomodachi.

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Story:

We open with an old man carrying an egg and flying across the sky on the back of a flying squirrel, Muta. Muta warns the old man, Roshi, not to drop the egg. Roshi says he won’t but does and that’s why his grand kids never call or visit. Two ice looking guys sense the situation and move to get to the egg. We cut to the one girl… You know, the boring one who was introduced in Max Heart that I can never remember the name of… I want to say Kanade. She’s working with Akane when she finds the fluffy little bird that hatched from the egg. From there we get to see our heroines, Honoka & Nagisa, as they’re enjoying a ski trip. But what is this mysterious creature and why are Freezen & Frozen after it?

Let’s start with the issues with the film. The biggest one is just that it drags quite a bit. Take the ending. We get our climactic fight and then a good ten minutes of an attempted, but not well executed, secondary climax. We also have some completely pointless scenes of Honoka’s grandmother. I liked her grandmother in the series but there’s no reason for her to be in this film beyond an early phone call where she gives Honoka some advice. Nothing else she does has any impact on anything. The scenes that surround Ellen in general are just a drag. They revolve around her “bonding” with our mysterious friend but its very clumsily done since most of it is her holding the thing while looking dull or watching it also while looking dull. There’s also a part of the film that revolves around Nagisa & Honoka having a fight but the impetus behind it is really weak. Basically, Nagisa overhears some random people who have mistaken Honoka & Fujipi for a couple and she gets upset because that’s her Honoka, dammit. Here’s the thing, though, Nagisa has known since before Max Heart even started that Honoka & Fujipi are old friends and she also knows that there’s nothing more to their relationship than that. There’s absolutely no reason for her to be upset here.

There are also parts to the film I like. In concept, I like the idea of contrasting a pair of true friends who will overcome their difficulties with a pair who will only stay close when things are going their way and I do like a lot of the scenes surrounding that, even if the event that kicks off that plot point is weak. A lot of the Honoka and Nagisa scenes in general are just good. I particularly like the moment where they talk about their hearts burning for one another.

Characters:

The characters are much the same as they are in the series proper. Nagisa and Honoka are still great characters. Ako is still entirely bland. It’s nice to see Shiho and Rina get some nice support scenes. The villains are nothing ground breaking but they’re fine. The same can be said for Muta, Roshi & our little bird. They’re not interesting characters but they work for what the film needs them to do. Pollun is, unfortunately, back to being a major annoyance. He does throw a loud, obnoxious tantrum in this one. Honoka and Nagisa need to start packing heavy duty duct tape.

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Art:

The artwork is nicely done. The action sequences flow well and the backgrounds are well detailed. I particularly like the way the film captures both a very picturesque winter wonderland aesthetic and a very oppressive frozen wasteland at different parts. The magical kingdom isn’t nearly as pretty as the Garden of Hope was in the first Max Heart film but it’s decent enough.

Sound:

I’ll quickly go through the major characters, since I’ve talked about their performances at least twice previously. Honna Youko & Yukana are great. Tanaka Rie is a great actress but her performance in this is flat because Miyuki is a bore. Ikezawa Haruna’s performance is annoying because that’s the aesthetic they decided to go with for her character. Moving on to the film exclusive characters, Nozawa Masako returns. In the last film she was Round & Honoka’s grandmother. In this one she’s Muta & Honoka’s grandmother. Her performance is good. You can’t even tell by ear that Muta and the grandmother have the same voice. Aono Takeshi voices Roshi and he does a fine job. Our villains are voiced by Kusao Takeshi & Hiyama Nobuyuki. Both of whom deliver nice performances. Hinata is voiced by Chijimatsu Sachiko and she’s decent enough. Like with the last film, Futari wa and the main series, we have a Sato Naoki soundtrack which includes Max Heart’s theme tune. Which is basically Futari Wa’s theme tune with minor changes. Still, he is a good composer and it shows here.

Ho-yay:

Honoka and Nagisa definitely have some. And it culminates in the “burning hearts” scene. Because this is PreCure and shoujo ai subtext is what they do. Actually, is it even subtext at this point? They’ve held hands while cuddling up in bed and talking about how close they are and now we get the hearts burning for each other. It might qualify as just text at this point.

Final Thoughts:

This is actually what I expected from a Max Heart film when I reviewed the first one. It has some strong moments, some weak ones and just averages out to be kind of mediocre. If you enjoyed Max Heart or if you were a fan of Futari wa who doesn’t mind putting up with Yayoi and Pollun for some cute Nagisa & Honoka moments you might enjoy watching it. For myself, I give it a 5/10. Next week I’ll look at Chocolate Underground.

Mononoke: Not the Princess

Mononoke is a supernatural, fantasy, historical horror series that came out in 2007. It was brought to us by our old friends at Toei animation. That’s right, the studio behind Kuuchuu Bruranko and a lot of people’s first anime with franchises like Dragonball and Sailor Moon. I’ve been told that this one is really good so let’s have a look and see if that is the case.

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Story:

We follow a “simple” medicine seller as he goes from place to place and hunts down mononoke. Which are a form of ayakashi. The series gives us five short stories, each one lasting two or three episodes, about the medicine seller getting into some strange situation caused by a mononoke and seeking out its shape, truth and reasoning so that he can exorcise it. It’s kind of reminiscent of Mushishi, which isn’t a bad thing.

The only real narrative problem with the series is that it can get repetitive. Not in terms of the set ups or anything like that. Rather, the resolutions are a bit repetitious. Our Medicine Seller finds the mononoke’s shape, truth & reasoning, draws the blade of exorcism and then he briefly talks to the audience. Although, in all fairness, there are exceptions where he ends up not drawing the blade but those stories where he does get kind of reiterative in their resolutions.

Still, that’s a fairly minor complaint given how many things the series does well. It’s really good at setting up interesting scenarios and at developing those scenarios in a way that keeps you interested. The pacing is also really well done. The series takes its time to build things up and really delve into a situation before moving into the action. The whole necessity of getting information about the mononoke really benefits the series in that respect. I also do like the way the series handles the medicine seller directly addressing the audience. They basically present the series as though it’s a play with the way they use transitions and the medicine seller’s final bits of dialogue when closing a story. It’s a decision that could have very easily gone wrong, but the execution here is superb and it really works to its utmost, or close to it.

Characters:

Each story has its own cast with the only reoccurring character being the unnamed medicine seller. This is another aspect that could have very easily not worked. Since the medicine seller is, in many ways, an archetypical trickster character. He doesn’t let anything agitate him and always seems to be in control of a given situation. You never feel like he’s in any real danger. However, what makes the character not just work, but work really superbly, is a combination of the play aesthetic and the fact that he devotes so much time to information gathering without any real concern for protecting the ordinary people who are caught up in the situation. Usually because there’s some karmic element involved. He’ll warn people and give them advice, but he’s more interested in unravelling the facts. I also do appreciate the way that every single side character has some contribution to make to the narrative. The side characters also do have relatable factors surrounding them. A lot of them aren’t good people, but they have enough complexity that you can understand them and why they’ve made the decisions they have.

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Art:

The artwork in this is an interesting case. Toei elected to make the artwork evocative of illustrated manuscripts. They were very meticulous about it with the character designs, backgrounds and even the colour palette. It doesn’t look like many other anime but in a way that’s dynamic and interesting. There is also something vaguely disconcerting about the more intense animation when paired with that art style which, ultimately, pairs well with the writing aesthetic. The imagery can also be pretty disturbing when it needs to be. The transitional artwork is really well handled, tying in with the theatrical feel nicely.

Sound:

There are a lot of really strong performances in this series. Yukana, Tanaka Rie, Wakamoto Norio & Midorikawa Hikaru to name a few. The strongest performance, though, comes from our protagonist voiced by Sakurai Takahiro. That’s right, Cloud Strife, Rockman X, Kururugi Suzaku, Endou Kazuki, Okada Joe, Osomatsu & a whole bunch of other characters. The music was handled by Takanashi Yasuharu. The same composer who worked on Shiki & Gantz. He does a really good job. His music for this really supplements the art and narrative style. Which helps forge a really strong atmosphere.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any in this series.

Final Thoughts:

So, was this series as good as I’d been told? Honestly, I’d say that it is. It has an amazing narrative with intriguing characters, coupled with art and music that complement the narrative style and excellent acting. All in all, I do recommend this one & I have to give it an enthusiastic 9/10. Next week’s review will be for another Toei production, Futari wa Precure: Max Heart Movie 2- Yukizora no Tomodachi.

AD Police: Cheap in Every Sense

AD Police is connected to another OVA I’ve reviewed. Basically, it’s a prequel to Bubblegum Crisis that came out in the very early 90s when that OVA was nearing its end. Supposedly, it was intended to be longer but some legal problems between Artmic and Youmex resulted in it being cut short. But the big question for me is, is this OVA as strong as Bubblegum Crisis was?

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Story:

The titular AD Police are a force that specialises in dealing with boomers, and humans with enough cybernetic parts. The story follows three different cases of theirs. The first involves them trying to find proof that one of their own didn’t commit suicide by boomer, while being stalked by a sex boomer. The second involves a woman murdering prostitutes. The final one involves a cyborg fellow who can’t feel anything except his own tongue and is losing touch with his humanity. It doesn’t help that he’s being molested by a sex-crazed lady doctor.

You might have noticed a bit of a pattern there. This series has a weird, unhealthy fixation on sex, especially as it applies to women. In the first episode we have the crazed sex boomers and a lady who gets turned on by the sight of blood, which never comes up again even though she’s in the rest of the series. In the second episode our serial killer was driven mad because (minor spoiler ahead) her husband was cheating with prostitutes because he thought their normal vaginas were better than her cybernetic one. In the third, we have the lady scientist who likes to wear lingerie under her lab coat and jump the cyborg she’s in charge of. Do these guys just live in perpetual terror of the idea that a scantily clad woman is going to do terrible things to them? Because if that’s the case they should see an actual psychologist and work through their issues in a constructive fashion instead of airing them in a publicly released OVA for anyone to see. Otherwise some strange person might try psychoanalysing them based on their writing and they won’t actually improve.

The second major issue with the series is that there’s never any sense of investment in what’s happening. Not only do we know basically nothing of these characters, but the set ups largely boil down to some action sequences and fetish fuel. Take the first episode. We’re supposed to care about a dude who had, maybe two lines of dialogue and got killed because his life insurance might not be paid out. Hold on, let me try to find a single fuck to give… Nope, can’t find one. A non-character’s woes after they die doesn’t make you interested in what’s going to happen. It’s completely not compelling. There’s also a bit of an issue with the cyborgs in this world. Our final episode cyborg can’t feel anything but his tongue, but the second episode cyborg is over 70% cybernetic and can feel things fine from what we see. They couldn’t have given the battle cyborg a switch so that he could turn off his sensations in battle, but so that he would still get sensations outside of it, possibly curtailing the obvious scenario that happens with him? For that matter, we see from the same comparison that they have cybernetic genitalia. Why can’t he have a penis and just wear trousers? Is it solely so that the “sex scene” with the scientist rubbing herself against him doesn’t actually make the OVA a hentai?

About the only thing I can say in its favour is that it’s set in the same universe as Bubblegum Crisis. So, if you’ve seen that then you know some interesting aspects about the world. Even if this series doesn’t convey them.

Characters:

I briefly touched on the characters being about as interesting as a blade of grass during my analysis on what’s wrong with the story. So, rather than repeat myself over much, let’s try comparing them to the ladies in Bubblegum Crisis and see where this series went wrong. In BC, we get character focused episodes that develop our main cast. We see what kinds of things they do when they aren’t fighting. We see them interact with one another and other people at length. In this series, we get very brief snippets, some of which are actually just sepia-toned still images. The interactions are likewise fairly flat. There’s the whole scene where the sex-crazed officer tries to hurl herself at Leon because… blood. We get a scene where she asks him why he rejected her and he just kind of shrugs. Dude, you can just tell her that you’re not into the blood play. It’s not like it even makes you weird. There’s not enough here to give you a substantial sense of character. Nothing to move them beyond generic. For that matter, the excuses behind why our antagonists go crazy are pretty poorly handled. Husband cheats? Well, that has to lead to madness. Don’t pretend that you’ve never gone berserk and murdered a bunch of people when your significant other was unfaithful. We’ve all been there.

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Art:

If Bubblegum Crisis had an unhealthy fixation on fan-service, this series suffers from multiple neuroses about it. There are several action sequences that get interrupted for the sake of tacky bosom or bum shots. All three episodes feature women stripping out of their clothes for unnecessary, garish reasons. To make matters even worse, the character designs shift a bit from episode to episode. You know, on account of consistency being cumbersome. The series still manages to feature some decent action sequences and some nice details concerning the advanced technology.

Sound:

The performances in this are pretty weak. Which I attribute to the script not giving the cast much to work with. I know that Furukawa Toshio, Wakamoto Norio & some others can act really well. They don’t in this, but I know they can. The music isn’t particularly good either. Which is a bit surprising since BC had such a fantastic soundtrack. Then again, BC also had a lot of other good aspects to it that this series lacks.

Ho-yay:

There really isn’t any. The closest we get to ho-yay is an inquiry about one character’s sexuality.

Final Thoughts:

So, that’s AD Police. If you want some mindless action and tawdry sexual content, you are in luck. This OVA was made for you. For everyone else, it fails pretty badly. The story telling is just bad. The characters are awful. The music and acting are weak. The levels of fan-service detract from the action and are just in poor taste. All in all, it’s terrible and I don’t care for it. My final rating is going to stand at a 2/10. Next week I’m looking at Mononoke.

May Bonus Review: Ohimesama no Himitsu

Let’s go back to talking about manga. To be specific, let’s talk about a fairly recent manga from Morinaga Milk. I’ve actually talked about her before when I did a manga review for Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakurairo. This time around I’ll be looking at Ohimesama no Himitsu, which had chapters published from late 2012 to early 2015. Is it as good as the last one I looked at? Let’s see. And yes, this would have normally gone up yesterday. Sorry, it slipped my mind.

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Story:

Fujiwara Nagisa is seemingly distant and difficult to talk to. She’s a part of the volleyball team and highly admired at her school. One day, Nishie Miu, a student at the same school, finds her in the hallway where she’s accidentally broken the principal’s prized vase. Fujiwara asks her not to tell anyone, since she was skipping practice under false pretences and doesn’t want her team mates to find out. When Fujiwara says she’ll do anything, Miu asks her to go out with her under the pretence that it’ll be good date practice, but she quickly realises it’s a selfish request and apologises. Surprisingly, Fujiwara is okay with it and agrees. Yuri ensues.

The only thing that I can really criticise about the writing in this manga is that it could have used a bit more time to better develop the attraction between our leads.

That being said, there’s a lot I really adored about the story-telling. I like that the main obstacle to their romance is the pretence of dating for practice. I liked the overall romance arc. The way Miu’s mother reacts to the situation is superb. I won’t spoil it but it’s brilliant. There are also a lot of clever subversions to the manga. It briefly sets up the idea of a love triangle but resolves it without a bunch of mewling melodrama. The main source of dramatic tension is less over whether they’ll get together and more over how Miu’s propensity towards falsehoods will impact their relationship and affect her personally. Which I appreciate. I also do love how the “blackmail” aspect is handled. Miu thinks of herself as getting Fujiwara to date her through blackmail but Fujiwara sees it as an opportunity to have someone she can spend time with since her class mates are intimidated by her and never really thinks of it as blackmail.

Characters:

Character writing is probably Morinaga’s greatest strength. She is stellar at writing characters who are complex, have verisimilitude and share really strong dynamics. And that strength is very well on display here. In spite of the short length, the characters act and speak in very natural ways. Even those side characters who show up very briefly feel real. With Miu & Fujiwara, she uses some inner monologues in text boxes to give us a lot of insight into their thoughts and feelings, which really serves to make us empathise with them. The way their dynamic develops is excellent.

Art:

I do rather like Morinaga’s art style. She draws faces really expressively and puts in a lot of nice little background details, for those panels that have backgrounds instead of various effects meant to illustrate the mood. In this manga, I actually like all the princess imagery that she employs to fit with the aesthetic.

Final Thoughts:

Ohimesama no Himitsu is a damn good love story. While there are some aspects that could have been extrapolated on a bit better, the narrative was still excellent. The characters were outstanding and the artwork is superb. My final rating is going to stand at an enthusiastic 9.5/10. If you’re a fan of romance works, they don’t get much better than this. As for next month’s bonus review, I’ll try and get it out towards the middle of the month. Try and guess what kind of super hero thing it’ll be. (I’m joking because so many of these have been about super hero media.) 

Green Legend Ran: Global Warming is Aliens

Green Legend Ran is an OVA from the early 90s. It was brought to us by AIC, the same studio that was responsible for Battle Athletes, Blue Gender, Solty Rei, Explorer Woman Ray & a variety of others. I don’t know anything going into it besides it being science fiction. So, let’s take a look and see if this one, unlike the last OVA I dug up, is worth a look.

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Story:

In the distant future our planet has been transformed into a world of desserts after giant extra terrestrials dropped onto our planet. There are contained patches of green, but they’re few and hidden away. In this world, the ruling class is made up of the Rodoists, people who worship the invading aliens and control the water supply. An opposition faction called Hazzard has also stepped up to fight against the Rodoists while most people are caught in the middle. We follow Ran, a young man who wants to join Hazzard to take revenge for his mother’s death. She was killed by a man with a scar on his chest during a confrontation betwixt the Rodoists & Hazzard. He meets up with Hazzard and befriends a girl his age named Aira. She’s immediately abnormal because of her silver hair. Normally that wouldn’t be strange in an anime, but in this one it’s significant. What does her silver hair mean? Will Ran manage to find his mother’s killer? What will happen between the factions?

While there are some interesting ideas on display, the execution leaves much to be desired. The series is pretty passable at building things up but its resolutions tend to last for all of thirty seconds and be unsatisfying. Ran spends most of the OVA repeating himself and contributing very little to the events that are happening. The story arc manages to simultaneously drag and skip over important elements. We’ll get long, slow periods that will contribute little or repeat information we already have and then we’ll skip ahead in time and be left with the impression that something important happened between the scenes but they aren’t sharing what. The environmental message in this is also really unsubtle and in your face. On a scale of Captain Planet bad to a Miyazaki film, it comes considerably closer to Captain Planet.

To the OVA’s credit, it does have some pretty strong moments when it manages to keep its focus. I also do kind of like the ending to the series. It does subvert the kind of ending you’d expect.

Characters:

There are some major problems with the characterisation in this OVA. First off, there are the villains. When a villain is supposed to be somewhat sympathetic, the series tries to hammer that in with really stilted dialogue. Which may or may not work. When a villain is just a villain, they’re cartoonishly, over the top evil. Then we have Ran himself. He’s a really dull character. It doesn’t help that he’s largely completely inept and just yammers on about the same things constantly. There’s also the dynamic betwixt Aira and Ran. It comes across as completely contrived in order to move the plot. They spend maybe a day in one another’s company and all of a sudden they’re the best of friends and willing to completely rely on one another. I would only buy that if one of them was actually a dog. Not a dog in human form, but a literal dog of some kind.

Art:

The artwork and animation vary. On one hand, the OVA is quite good when it comes to strange, surreal imagery. There are quite a few scenes that employ that aesthetic effectively. In contrast, their stuff with ordinary people can be pretty bad. There are a lot of awkward movements that no normal human would do without actively trying to contort themselves, a lot of awkward facial expressions that don’t actually match the emotion that the character is supposed to be conveying and a lot of action sequences weakened by a combination thereof. There’s also the design of their desert suits to be considered. They look like they’re made of heavy material and they have completely unnecessary shoulder pads. Because when you’re under a hot sun, you want heavy material with extra features that weigh you down. There’s also the question of how they’re supposed to function. They look a bit like diving suits. Initially, I thought they might be like proto-stillsuits where they recycle a character’s lost moisture but there’s never any indication that they can get moisture from them. It’s almost like they didn’t even consider functionality and just designed something stupid. At least it wasn’t a battle bikini.

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Sound:

The performances in this aren’t bad but they aren’t good either. Ultimately what we get from Kikuchi Hidehiro, Yayoi Mitsuki and the others are passable performances. The music from Yoshikawa Youichirou is decent enough. It’s not as good as the soundtrack he did for Iria, certainly, but it’s all right.

Ho-yay:

Don’t expect to find any here.

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately, Green Legend Ran is a series with a promising premise, that’s held back by poor execution. The story ends up with more weak moments than strong moments. The characters are largely bland, or worse. The artwork is bad when it comes to conveying normalcy and the acting is just mediocre. It’s not a bad little OVA, but in the end, my final rating is going to be a 4/10. It’s weak. Next week I’ll look at another OVA with AD Police.