Martian Successor Nadesico: Prince of Darkness -

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Mania Grade: C

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: ADV Films UK
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Letterbox Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Martian Successor Nadesico

Martian Successor Nadesico: Prince of Darkness

By Dani Moure     February 18, 2004
Release Date: February 16, 2004

Martian Successor Nadesico: Prince of Darkness
© ADV Films UK

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. Known as 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? The answers lie within, deep within...

The Review!
The popular Nadesico series returns for one last adventure on the big screen, but unlike many movies that follow a TV series, this one really is for fans only.

I watched the movie in the basic Japanese stereo mix for reviewing, and noticed no dropouts or distortions. It's not a particularly lively track, and is pretty much your standard fare. Spot-checking the English 5.1 track revealed no problems.

Presented in non-anamorphic letterbox, the video on this disc looks good for the most part. There was little noticeable aliasing during regular playback, and I saw only a few moments of the slightest pixellation during a couple of the higher action scenes. Colours come across as nice and vibrant, and I didn't notice any cross-colouration.

Packaged in a black keepcase but sporting a reversible cover, the retail is a nice image of Ruri with a glow around her in the centre, while several battleships in space make up the background. The show's newly designed logo sits at the bottom of the cover but takes up a fair amount of room. The back cover has a swirling montage of screencaps at the top, with a summary of the movie and production credits below. The disc's features are clearly listed. The reverse cover again sees Ruri take centre, but the rest of the characters are all present and correct in the montage, with some battleships in the background. The Japanese logo blends in with the imagery in the bottom half. The back has a more straightforward set of screenshots, with the summary and production credits also clearly listed here (including a Japanese vocal cast run down). Disc features are also clearly listed on this side. The covers are both quite nice, but the reverse side won out for me.

The menus are somewhat bland, which is possibly to be expected considering that in some ways it's quite a simple release. The main menu is static, with the ending theme playing in the background and a warped image of Ruri playing behind the menu buttons, which look very blocky when selected. The languages and scene select submenus are static, too, playing the same music as the main menu. These are functional, if rather bland.

Unfortunately, this disc does not include any extras.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

I've never been much of a fan of Nadesico, mainly from what I saw of its TV run; it was just never something that captured me. Nevertheless, I approached this movie with an open mind and actually quite eager to see what they would do within the bounds of a movie. Unfortunately, I was well under-prepared. There's little in the way of introductions in the movie ? it throws you straight into the plot, and most of the characters just appear, many of them extremely briefly.

The story of the movie focuses around Ruri Hoshino, who is now captain of the Nadesico B. Four colonies that are part of the Hisago Plan ? a project that allows ships to boson jump by going through Chulips, thus allowing long distance travel in a very short time - have been destroyed, and neither the Jovian Federation nor the Government of United Earth know who carried the attacks out. As such, the Nadesico is dispatched to get to the bottom of it all. Amusingly, Ruri is sent on a guided tour that explains the Hisago Plan to children, since she's not exactly welcomed by those at the centre of the Hisago Plan on Amaterasu.

While Ruri takes the tour, Hari remains on board the Nadesico and manages to hack in to the computer systems. He discovers that unsanctioned human experiments in boson jumping have been taking place, but before he can dig too deep, the word "otika" appears everywhere. The computer systems are fighting with each other and causing chaos, and Ruri is quick to realize that "otika" is "Akito" spelt backwards. Meanwhile, Amaterasu is attacked by a battleship that has the ability to bosun jump. Soon after the battle ends, Lieutenant Colonel Shinjyuu on Amaterasu takes over command from the Admiral in charge, claiming to be an enemy of Earth, Jupiter and all corruption ? a Martian Successor. Amaterasu is soon destroyed to keep it from the hands of the Martian Successors.

As Ryoko and Saburota escape the explosion, Ryoko is positive that she saw Akito before who, along with Yurika, was presumed dead a considerable time ago after being abandoned. The crew of the Nadesico return for the fallout of the Amaterasu incident, and the Nadesico C is commissioned as an independent task force to get to the bottom of all the problems, and this means a crew reunion. The remainder of the movie sees Ruri and friends trying to get their old crewmembers to join them on the mission, and brings Akito and Yurika back into the picture.

Prince of Darkness starts off quite well, carrying a fair amount of interest and intrigue in what is going on with the whole Hisago Plan problem with the Martian Successors and all, as well as some interesting moments with the Nadesico's new crew. The mystery surrounding what happened to Akito and why he may be around now brings in another promising aspect of the plot, but unfortunately it all begins to go downhill, descending in to little more than a series of cameos from various characters from the TV series, and the plot becomes more and more incoherent as it goes on, down to the point where it ends up almost being a series of random scenes cobbled together.

One of the movie's biggest problems is that it tries too hard to service a cast of astronomical proportions. Though I've not seen much of the TV series, it seemed as though they tried to include absolutely every character they could, many just randomly appearing with little point to what they do. Often, they appear only to be part of a joke (which is quickly explained in case we didn't get it), and then disappear again. It's this aspect that mainly crops up in the latter part of the movie that begins to make the whole thing seem a little pointless.

Characters' motives are rarely explained or even touched upon, as they move from one situation to another with little time spent on any of them. Ruri comes out "best" in this aspect, in that she gets a couple of moments such as those with Akito at the cemetery, but for the most part it's hard to get a feel for the characters and what they're doing based on their actions and exposure in this movie alone. Hari was an amusing character, though. He did begin to grate a couple of times when he started balling, but he also provided a fair amount of comic relief and was quite funny to watch.

This is why it's definitely something that's really for Nadesico fans only. It's a very "in" movie in that respect, assuming that you know every character enough that you don't even need to be reminded of their names (which was a definite problem for me, since anyone using names was actually quite rare), and will be able to read into what they're doing far better than the casual fan can. It's a shame, really, in that respect, as other movies have proven in the past that it is possible to appeal to an audience both old and new with movies that continue the story of a series. You can successfully reintroduce characters and give a good look at them for new viewers without letting them get completely lost, whilst servicing the fans at the same time. I can't imagine this movie making complete sense to anyone but the most diehard fans, and even some of those may find parts of the plot incoherent, if only because of the lack of time that means we end up jumping from scene to scene.

It's not all a downer, though. The animation is quite nice and seems a suitable upgrade from the TV series. It's flashy in places with a few particularly nice action sequences that flow well. Despite a good portion of the film taking place in space, a quite diverse colour palette was used which keeps it from looking flat.

In Summary:
Despite of all the flaws I've pointed out above, there were aspects of this movie that I did enjoy. The first part was enjoyable for the most part, even aspects of getting the crew back together. It was once the movie went beyond that, that it really started to lose my interest. Nevertheless, this is definitely a movie that fans of the TV series will likely enjoy and get a lot out of, if only as a chance to see some of their favourites in one last adventure. For viewers looking for a chance to dive in to the Nadesico universe, or those looking for some short and sharp entertainment, I'd advise steering clear of this release.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.


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