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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Don’t expect to find any here.
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.