Released By: Geneon
Another mech story told with Greek mythology as a parallel and very pretty animation.
Another global war has been launched by humans and in the year 2131 one of the elite soldiers fighting this war is a woman named Deunan Knute. The war being fought is between humans and androids though and soon Deunan is taken out of a war that she never knew ended and into a vast city named Olympus which serves as a utopia for humans so that she can lead the special government run special forces known as ES.W.A.T. In this city, the humans coexist with a race of artificial humans called bioroids. The city lives in peace under the control of Prime Minister Athena and the ultimate computer program known as Gaia (noticing a theme yet?) but a true utopia doesn’t and conflict is brewing as the head of the human military, General Uranus is hatching an evil plan to destroy the bioroids and make humans into the chief species of the city once again.
The Good And The Bad
The animation in this feature is going to be the first thing that grabs you as the entire feature is done in CG animation. While the animation is certainly not up to the quality of say Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (how could it be when it was released much earlier?), the animation is still absolutely striking to watch. You are always well aware that you are watching animation but the backgrounds are so stunningly beautiful it is sometimes hard to remember that you are looking at animated backgrounds instead of the real thing. If you’re looking for specific examples of where this is the most troublesome, watch some of the water effects late in the movie. The effects are absolutely flawless.
I only really saw a couple of things wrong with the animation and to say that they are “wrong” is a very poor choice of word. The first thing that annoyed me at first is the stark contrast between the bright and dark animations. The use of lighting is appropriate in all places but I did feel that the brightness was turned up much too high on character faces, especially when inside the city of Olympus. It was difficult to even be able to distinguish main facial characteristics in many scenes because of the lighting on the character’s faces made the contours so difficult to see.
The other big thing that hit me right away was the use of computer effects that have sadly become old news within the last decade or so. Within the very first fight scene we are treated, repeatedly, to shots of slow motion fight scenes which immediately make you think of The Matrix. Unfortunately this isn’t even limited to the first fight scene as we will see the same effect again in later battle sequences. The mech design also didn’t strike me as terribly original as right away I was reminded of the video game Front Mission with how the mechs moved and even battled.
In my personal life, I am very interested in Greek mythology and find that it comes up in my everyday life quite frequently and so as soon as I heard that the name of the city was Olympus, I was intrigued to see how it would be used throughout the feature and what kinds of parallels the direction would choose to draw between the mythology and what he had created. Unfortunately what I saw were many of the same basic stories that I’ve read throughout my life and not hidden very well at that. The entire thing was very clichéd and by the end I felt that while the Greek mythology fit, the mythology from a different region or culture probably could’ve been used just as effectively without damaging anyone’s artistic integrity.
Most of the writing really ended up becoming a convoluted mess. At the beginning I was really quite intrigued by what I saw. The concepts and ideas that were being presented to me were very interesting but there was still so little that I knew about the world that I was watching and I really wanted more of it to be explained to me so that I could really emphasize with the characters and what struggles they were going through. Sadly hardly any of the main plot is laid out for the audience leading to confusion, at least on my part.
What started for me as general interest in what would happen next began to wane towards a partial mood of indifference near the middle and by the time the end credits began rolling I found myself in complete indifference and barely even able to keep my attention on the feature in front of me. By the end I just didn’t care about the characters nor did I care about their survival.
The soundtrack to this movie is very strong which I enjoyed. The opening theme right away caught my attention and the music continued to be a strong lure for me to keep me at least partially fixated on what was going on during the scene. I didn’t notice any drops or distortion throughout the feature.
Dub vs. Sub
When I am this disinterested in the story, it makes it hard to really choose a favorite over dub and sub but in this case I am going to choose the sub cast. The dub cast did a great job with what they were given and really put a lot into their roles and it really shows in the performances (most especially the performances of Mia Bradly as Hitomi) but I just found the sub cast to be a bit more believable in their roles and never felt pulled out of the moment when I was listening to the original Japanese cast.
This feature is packed full of extras though which is a great added bonus. On the first disc you are treated to a full length commentary with the producer and director of the movie which is always worth checking out. Also included are music cues with the scenes that they are placed. Also included with this extra are full profiles of the artists and bands that created these tracks which provides some great info about not only the them but how they came to be involved in the project. Then there are staff profiles and the original commercial for the soundtrack.
If you happen to buy the special limited edition version, you are treated to a second DVD of extras though which include a special ‘making of’ documentary, design archives for the art buffs which include some of the conceptual art, an image gallery, terms used in the movie (which I think should’ve been an extra on the first DVD so that fans who only bought the single edition and weren’t fans of the manga wouldn’t be so confused), character profiles and info about the mechs.
As I mentioned above, when I started this feature I was quite intrigued by what I saw but by the end there just wasn’t enough to keep me entertained and I found myself growing bored with it very quickly. The break neck action and interesting concepts were fun at first but by the end, I really felt like I needed more and this feature wasn’t going to provide it. If you were a fan of the manga, you’ll probably be a fan of this feature as well but otherwise this is really just a release for people who are looking for some decent mech action without much story to bog you down.
Final Grade: 79% – C