Project Blue Earth SOS Vol. #3 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Project Blue Earth SOS

Project Blue Earth SOS Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     May 29, 2008
Release Date: May 13, 2008

Project Blue Earth SOS Vol. #3
© ADV Films

What They Say
Aliens have begun their invasion of Earth. Fortunately, scientists have developed the Sky Knight, a fighter plane capable of defending the world, and a group of teenagers has stepped forward to lead the resistance.

The Review!
The OVA series draws to a close with a classic epic feeling and plenty more tried and true elements from B-movie science fiction serials.

This OVA series has some great production values to it that extend to beyond the video side as the Japanese have actually ponied up for a 5.1 mix. ADV Films has complemented that with an English 5.1 mix that uses the same elements and both tracks are solid overall. Unsurprisingly though, the rear channels aren't used all that often overall but there is a greater sense of placement and clarity with the dialogue in general. While the mix overall isn't terribly aggressive nor does it really stand out in a way that sets it apart, it is pretty well done for a mix that uses the rear channels on occasion but keeps its emphasis on the forward soundstage. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally released throughout the second half of 2006, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Project Blue Earth SOS has some fantastic production values when it comes to the animation itself and it really shines beautifully throughout the ninety minutes it runs here. The animation is very clean and crisp with some wonderfully fluid moments that remind why OVAs generally are considered to be better than TV series in this regard. The mixture of the CG and regular animation comes across very well and the overall presentation is very clean. Beyond some basic aliasing going on during zooms and pans, colors are vibrant and solid with very little noise in general. While the bitrate doesn't run terribly high for the most part, it looks really good on our setup.

The darkness permeates this cover like the second one as it features the lead characters arrayed around the logo while evil abounds behind them in the form of the Baguan and their home world. The foreground character artwork pieces are pretty nice with a clean simple look combined with good colors and a retro feel with the Universe Knight blasting off along the bottom. The back cover is a bit cleaner and smoother as well as showcasing some of the lighter campier aspects of the shows origins with the taglines. A series of shots from the show are along both sides and a decent summary covering the basics of the premise. A bit of production information is along the bottom as well as what features are on the disc while the technical grid lists everything clearly, though the aspect ratio isn't exactly done in the best way. No related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

The menu layout for the show is pretty nice even if it is a simple static shot of an action sequence of the aliens attacking with their ray guns. The background utilizes a lot of what we've seen from the front cover and it works nicely enough with the added vibrancy that the resolution brings. The bottom strip features the navigation with an amusing cursor choice all set to a bit of the upbeat instrumental music playing along. The layout is very easy to navigate with individual episode access at the top and quick loading submenus. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets which was a definite plus in ease of use.

The only extra included is a clean version of the opening sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Project Blue: Earth SOS draws to a rather solid and entertaining conclusion with the last two OVAs which play out like four episodes of a TV series. The world has come to the brink of destruction with the Baguan now demanding humanity surrenders to them as they display just how powerful they are. Of course, humanity won't falter - for the most part - and young men and women will determine the course of events in a spunky yet dramatic way. Against my better judgment and feelings about the first couple of episodes, this show is just fun in general if you go into it with the right attitude.

The two episodes here cover a lot of ground as the cast is moving about in different directions trying to deal with how the Baguan are getting more forceful. Events seem to be pushing them to finish out their invasion of Earth quickly and they're taking more blunt approaches to dealing with it. The environmental disaster that they've precipitated is just now being realized as a cold winter is falling over the planet and the scientists believe it will take over three hundred years to restore any kind of real balance. At least through natural means as you know Billy will come up with some gee whiz device that will help accelerate things. After all, this is the kid who can build sub-light rockets without breaking a sweat.

What's interesting with the Baguan's next attack plan is that they're utilizing humanity against itself, which makes sense as the revelations start to come later in the volume. With the ability to blanket the world with their might in general, their demands for surrender take an interesting angle as they put out hypnotic messages within a radio show that the majority of people seem to be listening to. This new wave of "radio zombies" that gets created have a loyalty to the Baguan and begin to cause trouble all over the place, including within Metropolitan X and the United Nations. People that could once be trusted now act like zombies, at least at first. As it progresses they seem to retain more intelligence and actively try to cause trouble beyond just having a slow moving pace to them. It's almost amusing though as the heads of the Labyrinth Alliance can't believe how close the radio zombies get to them and their top level staff.

While all of this is going on and Billy is frantically trying to figure out how to fix it before Lotta and others lose themselves to the hypnotic waves, Penny has been spending his time with Margaret in her grandfather's mansion. Professor Steamson is the key to everything is what Penny comes to believe and the subtle hints that he gets from Margaret begin to give him ideas of where to proceed, particularly when she shows him a partial message he had left her years earlier. The professor and what he had done in the past is certainly years beyond what humanity can do in the present day of the show but it fits in with what has happened as the origins of the Baguan become clear. In rather classic fashion, humanity's worst enemy is itself as the professor caused the Baguan to exist and humanity is now paying the price for it.

Everything comes to a head as the Baguan utilize their advanced technologies and understandings of space and time to bring their home world into Earth orbit so they can carry out their last desperate plan. Not unlike previous episodes, there's always a bit more technology that has been kept under wraps that can be used to save the day, provided there is someone with the guts to use it. With people like Billy and James around, there is always someone who will step up to the plate and do what they can, whether it's for their own purposes or for the greater cause of defending humanity. It gets somewhat campy though when you have them bringing out the Sky Knight warship during the previous episodes and now upping the ante with the Universe Knight to save the planet from the onslaught of Baguan ships. At the same time though, it fits in with the way the show has worked and the larger portrayal of old science fiction books and serials.

And that continues to be the most difficult part of the show overall. Project Blue: Earth SOS is an incredibly well done production on a technical level and the adherence to so many classic aspects of science fiction storytelling is spot on. But these aspects are ones that are juts tough to wrap your head around depending on your upbringing. I read a great deal of these kinds of books in my youth and had a hard time connecting with them because of the quasi-camp that a lot of them had. My affection is far more towards the hard science fiction subset of the genre with the realism and technological aspects, ala books by Stephen Baxter. But even with that preference, it's very easy to admire what they've done here as it's very rarely done anymore and even more rarely with such an incredible range of production values.

In Summary:
Perhaps it was the mood at the time or just something about those first two episodes that rubbed me the wrong way, but Project Blue: Earth SOS really comes into its own in the second volume and finishes out wonderfully here, camp and all. When certain things fall into place it all becomes revealed rather quickly and without much in the way of surprises. Yet the show simply does it so well, even with really corny names, that I couldn't help but smile. Everything about this final set of episodes takes it to the next logical level and raises the epic aspect of it as humanity is fighting for its very survival yet has a hard time seeing the small obvious things that will be big stumbling blocks. Predictable, corny and occasionally quite goofy, Project Blue: Earth SOS still manages to be a very entertaining ride that's simply not done anymore in this fashion. For good reason at that since it's not something I'd want to see regularly. As a rarity, an homage to a time gone by, it's excellent.

Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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