Martian Successor Nadesico: Prince of Darkness (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, November 03, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, November 11, 2003
What They Say
Two years have passed since the Great War. Akito and Yurika have vanished. The Jovians and the Earthlings have joined forces and Ruri is now captain of Nadesico B. As the popularity of Boson Jumping grows, a vast transportation network has been developed. Dubbed the Hisago Plan, this network of Chulip portals holds the answers to the mysteries behind Bose particles and their power. If those secrets should fall into the wrong hands, it could mean big trouble.
And big trouble there is. A Martian splinter group has launched an offensive, leaving the United Forces befuddled and desperate. So much so, in fact, that the former crew of the Nadesico is called back to active duty for a special unsanctioned mission-to save us all. Does this menagerie of misfits have what it takes? Who will win the race for the Boson technology? And what the heck happened to Akito and Yirika? The answers lie within-deep within-the NADESICO: Prince of Darkness.
Taking place three years after the original series ended, the Nadesico goes into battle once more with one of the biggest casts out there.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this movie in its original language of Japanese. Since we had seen the entire series in this way, it made sense to finish out with the original cast as well. The Japanese track is in the stereo mix that was used for its original release and comes across well, particularly in the action sequences but also in the numerous soft screen images that get used throughout the show. Dialogue is nice and clear and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions. With the English track, we were only able to spot check parts of the stereo mix and not the 5.1 remix but had no issues with what we did hear.
Originally released in 1998 and to video in 1999, the Nadesico movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (but like the Japanese release it is not enhanced for anamorphic playback). The transfer here looks very sharp and rich with colors that seem to cover every known shade at times. With a lot of this movie taking place in space there’s a lot of black and grays used that come across well without any noticeable breakup in backgrounds. Cross coloration and aliasing appear to be just about non-existent and the print is free of nicks and scratches.
Presented in a clear keepcase, the front cover has a nice shot of Ruri set against the space backdrop that has the mecha set against the soft blues and whites of Earth. The logo along the bottom looks good and solid. The back cover has a mix of animation shots ringed around in the format used within the series itself. There’s a brief summary of the premise and a listing of the features. Production credits are clearly listed and a slightly squished technical features box is along the bottom. The insert has another image of Ruri with the mecha behind her as well as a dark looking Akito. The reverse side of the insert lists the chapter marks (a strange setting of one every ten minutes after the first seven minutes). This release also sports a reversible cover that is I believe identical to the Japanese release other than being translated, with the nice cast cover artwork. The reverse back cover provides a number of interesting shots from the show and a lengthy cast list as well.
The main menu, done in letterbox mode, is a nice piece that has a shifting background that has an opaque image of Ruri there with glowing strands moving about. The center block has the basic selections for the film while below it is the logl, which unfortunately on just about every set I looked at it on came across as blurry and fuzzy from over saturation in the reds. Since there’s little to the disc outside of the show, movement is easy and access times are nice and fast.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While the release of the TV series on DVD in the US was fairly controversial with its heavy use of overlays (more so at the beginning of the series than at the end), the movie has managed to be fairly free of controversy other than “when are you releasing it?” comments.
While it’s been about two years between the end of the TV series, which wasn’t conclusive, and the release of the movie, the timeline in the show is about a year longer. Three years after the TV series, we’re introduced to the Nadesico again with Ruri as the sixteen-year-old captain of the ship and performing her duty. The movie actually opens with the image of the gravesite with Yurika and Akito’s images on it as prayers are being offered. From there, the movie goes off at a heightened pace of images and dialogue that quickly begin to lose meaning and form.
The other main change in the solar system is that there’s a general peace between the Earth and the Jovians. Boson jumping has become increasingly popular and that’s changed the way things have worked greatly. When you’re able to move about at will, the nature of society changes greatly. With the continual research and development of Boson jumping, the next phase of it has come in the form of the Hisago Plan. With these chulip jump points being arrayed around the solar system, it would free humanity even more. Of course, they also make a tasty target for the new insurgent group that’s risen to challenge the existing powers.
And much like in the original series, the government has a hard time doing much outside of bicker and accuses each other of things. Some of it is quite amusing though, when they’re able to use the accusation of the Jovian’s being a race of lizard people, how can you trust those leaders again. With the United Earth forces essentially unable to do anything and paralyzed, it’s little surprise that the Nadesico B gets itself back into the game with much of the original crew coming back to help out, including some mixed in Jovian’s to add some balance and humor.
From there… it’s just nonsensical to me. Just about every aspect of what I didn’t like from the TV series becomes prominent here, with a far too large cast sweeping in and out of the movie and making off hand comments. Characters that are barely on long enough for you to even try to remember their name never mind the relationships they had with other characters. Add in that the plot is pretty weak in itself and it’s just ninety minutes of flashy animation moving around.
Maybe this would have made more sense to me two years ago after the series ended and it was all the fresher in my mind. With the film starting off with the deaths of the leads and then seeing them back in other forms later, that took one of the few hooks into the show and tossed it aside. Granted, the film was released at a time when Ruri was all that was talked about in and outside of anime fandom in Japan with her face everywhere, harkening back to the time when it was “Noa ‘bloody’ Izumi” who was everywhere, but that doesn’t carry over to here for me. Ruri had some interesting moments in the series but not enough to carry the movie.
And it’s also the type of film where things happen that are easily explained away as yet another surprising revelation or off hand comment. Akito’s return as a visor wearing darkling who isn’t interested in anything is off-putting. There also appears to be something where more information was available to the Japanese fans of the show. Nowhere in the movie, at least to me, is it obvious that Akito and Yurkia were married for a year and a half during the three years that are skipped. Nor that Ruri lived with the two of them for a good part of that time, as well as just how Akito and Yurika supposedly met their end. Yet I was able to find it in a couple of reviews a few years ago of the movie during its theatrical release.
With all that’s going on here, I figured I’d at least get a decent SF anime movie with plenty of climactic battles. Those are indeed present here, but they feel so lifeless without the characters to really back them up. Having no feelings or caring for none of those in the show, the whole thing quickly folded on itself for me since there wasn’t anything to latch onto. This movie is definitely one for the fans and not the casual viewer. This is one of those rare movies where I can say that I feel like those people in the 80’s who would through whatever means end up with some anime movie that was poorly subtitled and only made a marginal amount of sense. I’m not saying this movie is poorly subtitled or scripted in any way, but it just feels like I’m missing so much of what’s needed that I’m unable to make any connection, instead I’m just seeing a dizzying array of images and useless dialogue going across the screen.
While I didn’t care for much of the humor in the original TV series, the core plot of the “aliens invading Earth” always brings some new elements in a storyline and Nadesico had some intriguing ones with the Chulips and the Boson jumping, elements that reminded me heavily of one of my favorite SF novels, “Stars my Destination.” The movie doesn’t capture what I found intriguing there but goes off in a new short direction that’s heavily reliant on liking the vast cast and especially Ruri Hoshino. Unfortunately for me, that fails on a number of levels, resulting in a feature that left me checking the run time more than I’ve done with anything else in recent memory.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: D
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 90
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Martian Successor Nadesico