1950s era science fiction made into an anime—it’s nostalgiawesome.
What They Say
The disappearance of revolutionary G-Reaction engines is but the beginning of the ghastly end for mankind. While deranged alien forces prepare a fleet of flying saucers for the invasion of all invasions, teenage geniuses Penny Carter and Billy Kimura join forces with a clandestine secret alliance to save humanity from the extra-terrestrial helmet worms and their tentacles of doom!
Avoiding alien attacks and dodging disintegration rays won't be easy, but these courageous kids will have help from above as Ace pilot James and his mentor Cpt. Clayton enter the fray to stave off a threat incomprehensible to mere mortals!
Contains episodes 1-6.
Both the English and Japanese tracks for this release are offered in 5.1, though the mix is fairly basic. There is little directionality throughout, which is a shame considering the amount of battle scenes between the humans and aliens. Still, the dialogue, music, and sound effects tracks are nice and separate, with no dropout between them. So, it sounds good, but it could have been a little better.
I love the design for this series. The characters look like they came right out of a 50s cartoon, and the use of bold earth-tones for the majority of the coloring just adds to the effect. The aliens, technology, and scenery also look like they came right from classic science fiction. The transfer also looked clean on my setup. There were no technical problems, and the animation was top notch.
There is a lot to like with the packaging. Both discs are held in a standard amaray case. The image on the front is done to look like a classic sci-fi movie poster, depicting the major characters and an air battle with the tell tale phrase “ALIENS ATTACK!” near the top. The case is clear, so the reverse of the cover has a pencil sketch of all of the characters that can be seen from the inside. There are no telltale marks on the reverse side, so it is not really a reversible cover. Again, I love the artwork, it fits the feel of the series so well.
The menus feature the same earthy pencil sketch type artwork that is on the reverse of the cover, and shows up on occasion during the series, with Penny featured on the first disc and Margaret on the second. The main theme plays while on the main menu. The selections are offered to the side, in an earth-tone green, which stands up well against the parchment colored background. While there may be no animation, the menus do feature a nice design that again fit well with the theme of the series.
The only extra on this set is a clean version of the opening.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Project Blue Earth SOS is a science fiction series that aims at paying homage to the classic American sci-fi movies and TV shows from the 1950s. With a storyline straight out of those times, the nostalgia is thick in this series. Obviously a title like this is not for everybody, but if you have any love for old school science fiction, then you owe it to yourself to check this one out.
In 1995, an air force pilot is testing a new jet engine known as the G-Reactor. As the test is coming to a close after a successful run, some mysterious colorful lights appear behind him and attack. His plane is ultimately shot down, but not until he reports a series of “saucers” mixed in with the lights. After he falls from the sky, the lights disappear without a trace.
Fast forward five years: the G-Reactor is now being used as the main power source all around the Earth. Everything from transportation to complete power grids are being run by G-Reactors. However, transports that are using the G-Reactor have begun disappearing mysteriously. Clayton, the Captain in charge of the original G-Reactor project, is certain the disappearances are the work of alien invaders, but he cannot get anybody in charge to listen to him.
Enter Penny Carter and Billy Kimura. Billy is the heir to Kimura Enterprises, one of the premier technology companies in the world, and a scientific child prodigy. His company is getting ready to debut a new bullet train powered by the G-Reactor when Penny crashes the party. Penny is also a science genius, having graduated with honors from MIT. He has been studying the odd occurrences surrounding the thefts, and is sure Billy’s train is next. When Penny’s intuition is right, the two become friendly rivals, putting their minds to work to solve the mystery.
While exploring the reappearance of a submarine, they meet a mysterious apparition who warns them that humanity will soon be enslaved to the Infabel. This begins a chain reaction where they meet Captain Clayton and get involved with the secret Labyrinth Alliance, headed up by the inventor of the G-Reactor, Dr. Brest—pronounced Breest, important when you consider he named his daughter Lotta. Labyrinth was set up right after the disappearance of the original plane in 1995 to study the coming invasion, and decide how best to combat it.
The plot of Project Blue Earth SOS could have easily come from a Hollywood movie in the 1950s. An alien race, much more technologically advanced than anything we could imagine, has come to invade Earth for seemingly no reason. And no matter how many times Earth can come up with a desperate solution to an alien attack plan, the aliens can always go a step farther. Although this series is recent (2006), it just has a wonderful old school feel to it.
The design of the series is another high point, and adds to the 50s feel. The characters have a nice blend of modern and traditional design. From their general design to their fashion sense, they almost look as if they could have come right out of a 50s cartoon.
But more than the characters, it is the technology and the aliens that have the most nostalgic feel. The human fighter planes are right out of the Korean War, and the highly advanced Sky Knight—built by Labyrinth to really take it to the aliens—is constructed from a similar, cylindrical design. And while the alien ships might not be the prototypical “flying saucer,” the saucer is definitely a starting point for their design. And of course, the long, skinny, bug-like aliens could not be designed any better.
What is interesting about the design of the show is how it affected my enjoyment. I had a really hard time immersing myself in the gravity of the plot early on because I was constantly giggling at the throwback “bad” dialogue and feel of the series. Equal parts War of the Worlds, This Island Earth, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it was just a pure joy to be seeing something new that felt so retro.
But as we moved into the second half of the series, I became used to the feel and was able to accept the story better. Later in the series, Penny and Billy find clues that hint at prior knowledge of the invaders, and so they go to work on trying to figure out why the Infabel would want to come to Earth. This, mixed with the later attempts by the aliens to take over, really drew me in. This is not to say that the story was lacking early on. But I was so distracted by the appearance and concept of the series that I was not fully committed to the plot.
But unfortunately, it is the retro feel that will hold this series back. For somebody like me who grew up watching old school sci-fi movies on TBS and USA in the mid-80s, I love this. But anybody who does not have history with the 50s sci-fi traditions might find it a bit more difficult to get into this. The plot is good, but ultimately also has the cheesy 50s feel. So does everything else. If you like science fiction, then this should be one to check out, but be prepared for something a little less “serious” than what you might find with something more modern.
I really loved this series. I loved the designs, I loved the old-school feel, and the plot was really well constructed. But if you have no interest in some classic sci-fi action, then you might have a little problem getting into this one. But frankly, if you like science fiction, then I would think the story is strong enough to get you into it, whether you love the old feel or not. It really is a gem. Recommended.
Japanese 5.1 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Memorex MVD2042 Progressive Scan w/ DD/DTS (Component Connection), Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System