Written by: Ron Cotton on October 20th, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Japan 2001
Director: Hisaya Takabayashi, Toshifumi Takizawa
Writers: Masatoshi Kimura, Hisaya Takabayashi, Toshifumi Takizawa
Cast: Kazue Fukiishi, Takehito Koyasu, Yoshiko Sakakibara
DVD Released: November 16th, 2004
Approximate Running Time: 77 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English and Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese
DVD Release: Artsmagic Ltd.
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.99
Earth’s fragile ecosystem in the future has been ravened by countless wars and power struggles between humanity. Scientists Ryu and Yuri devised a solution to this dilemma. Their method to replenish the earth’s diminishing resources involved rebuilding earth’s DNA with ‘seeds’. This terraforming would undo all the damage done to the planet. The two scientists hoped that one day their daughter could experience what life was like before. As this family returns to earth, they’re caught returning into earth’s atmosphere during a full-scale nuclear war. Ryu and Yuri places Amamiku in cryostasis, while they entrust Mayzamik, the HAL-like computer in ensuring her safety after their untimely demise. Ryu and Yuri also leave behind the ‘seeds’, optimistic that there is a small fraction of peaceful people enlightened enough to rebuild humanity. The rocket made its home underneath the deep depths of the ocean, removing itself from high concentrations of radiation.
Amamiku is a playful youth who tires from the constant coddling of Mayzamik leaving the immediate vicinity known as the Sinerik Sanctuary. Leaving the area for a break from her patrol, a strong current carries her away, disorienting her, and she becomes totally lost. A dolphin comes to her rescue, taking her to a ray-like ship. For the first time in years, she comes in contact with humans. This contact leaves much to be desired, and finds that robots and computers like Mayzamik show much more compassion than humans do. She becomes weary and wonders if anyone could be entrusted with the ‘seeds’.
Behind the scenes, Malloz, a warrior who runs the ship keeps in communication with three benevolent creatures whose brother; Glyptofane wants to eradicate the last of the humans. Glytofane reasons that the Earth and its creatures would flourish only without mankind’s destructive intervention. Glyptofane’s temperament is wildly chaotic and cannot be reasoned with. Glyptofane forces this ‘absolute law’ with his numerous dark machinations known as Gadoms. The other three and Malloz only want to see humanity through to its natural fate. Once Glyptofane discovers that the ‘seeds’ and Mayzamik exist, it becomes a race between Glyptofane and Malloz.
Holocaust, Death, and Rebirth are not unfamiliar settings in anime or to the Japanese as one only has to look back at history. Amamiku is a neophyte who must learn the ins and outs of this brave new world. Her innocence and her emotional reasoning force others to rethink their hostile tendencies. While she has the tools to rekindle earth, she hesitates for fear of the future. At times, this movie appears mock other films, which isn’t uncommon in other anime movies. Glyptofane is a Hitler-esk character with robotic Gadoms that are reminiscent not only in appearance but also attack like sentinels in the Matrix series. Malloz plays the Morpheus, yet unsure of who or what he is. One major complaint I have is the interactions between characters. Although in this future most of humanity is emotionally void, the movie neglects fleshing out the current characters in most cases, they only add more to the fray, adding confusion rather than supplementing to the story. The characters are surface level to say the least.
At times, the films movement and tempo seems totally out of phase. Characters speed across like old black and white comedy films, appearing unbelievable and slap sticky. Yet, other scenes seemed much more lively and fluid. The overall quality of the CGI work varied from time to time. From watching this movie, I felt that this shattered its serious tone. The ending was expected and lacking. This movie desired more attention than perhaps the production budget had. This doesn’t appear to have excellent CGI work like a render farm could create in ‘Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within’, yet better than most video game CGI work. Blue Remains faired much better than I expected.
The dialog in the Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese with subtitles is much more preferable over the English track. The Japanese voice actors are emotionally human like, suit the characters and the actors themselves have extensive experience voicing in other animations. The English track features the excessively shrill voice of Amamiku, other characters voices are dull and monotone with the exception of Mireo who has the case of an annoying Texan accent. I discovered only noticed one misspelling in the English and the removable subtitles were very clear and legible. Artsmagic Ltd. has done a wonderful job packaging and delivering a full featured DVD. Most animation companies contain the only the feature plus trailers.
Artsmagic, on the other hand, created great master (a bit rate over 8 mb/sec!), both language versions in 5.1 Dolby Digital, and even included an interview with the director (approx. 25 minutes) on a dual-layer. Most anime DVD with features of this caliber would only be found on a re-release. This being the first Artsmagic title I’ve previewed, I can only hope to see more titles and encourage for other companies to follow suit. Although I’ve felt this title’s theme was old hat, I’m sure those new to anime might find this title enjoyable, or to those who collect CGI animation, as well as those who wish to watch a non-violent anime in the company of children. For all others, it deserves a peak at least to see Hisaya Takabayashi’s (at times frank) interview and the great mastering job Thanks to Artsmagic.