So I just watched Venus Wars. It’s an early ’89 film, coming out not even a year after Akira, and it has some definite Akira influence in it. Which is understandable when you see this incredible all-star animator line up, most of which worked on Akira (And specifically, the Akira opening bike chase). Toshiyuki Inoue, Toyoaki Emura, Hitoshi Ueda – these dudes are like, the big guys behind the Akira bike chase. Hiroyuki Okiura (director of Jin-Roh, and Akira animator), Hirotsugu Kawasaki (director of Spriggan, and Akira animator), Toshihiro Kawamoto (character designs/sakkan for Bebop), Takahiro Omori (director of Baccano! and this seasons Kuragehime), Satoru Utsunomiya, Shinji Hashimoto and Tatsuyuki Tanaka (Three Akira animators, among many other things). I mean, all of these guys are like really respected animators, and all of them key animated for Venus Wars. It blows my mind that this movie had such an animator line up. I mean, I watched it because I saw Tanaka on the line up, and I’m a bit of a fanboy for him so I try to watch things he’s had a hand in. But then I saw this list and the movie went from being an obscure 80’s film to being a must-see.
The animation, as far as I could judge it, was pretty sweet. There’s a pretty heavy focus on motor-unicycle, so there’s a lot of sweet animation there, with them rolling through dirt roads, and through the city. Though, I was disappointed with the bit live-action footage being used, I would’ve loved to see it all drawn.
The story, or, characters, of the film are pretty reminiscent of Akira as well. It’s all about this raggedy gang of teen bikers and their girlfriends, seriously, straight out of Akira. Which is cool, I think the fact that they put out something like this as sort of like “the next Akira,” is awesome. What bothers me though, is that you never see people talk about it. I mean, seriously, who here’s even heard of Venus Wars before I mentioned it? I’ve seen it recommended maybe two-three times, but it’s not exactly one of those good ol’ classics..
But, the plot of the movie isn’t exactly anything to talk up.. Basically, there’s this war going on on Venus, the bad guys take over this city, and these punk biker kids in the city decide they don’t like The Man running the town, so they go after the baddies, and in their failure of an attack, they run into the good army, who they fight with to kick the bad guys out of their town. There’s something in there about a reporter, and maybe a few lines hinting at some back-story to the war, but that’s pretty much the movie. Then you fill it in with sweet motor-unicycle chase scenes, incredible backgrounds, a hint of teen-romance, plenty of gunfire and explosions, a tragic death here or there, and general sweet animation. And when wrapped together, it makes one decently entertaining and worth watching film.
I gave it an 8 on MAL, and I’m sure I’m being overly generous, but I found the movie highly entertaining. Of course it isn’t “deep,” or “thought-provoking.” The movie doesn’t make you question why you walk through the cycles of daily life, it doesn’t open your eyes to the atrocities of war (I’d actually say it more glorifies war :x). No, it doesn’t do anything like that, it’s just an entertaining 80s action-fest with gorgeous art and some of the biggest animators in the industry. And, it is worth sitting through it’s hour and forty minute run time.
Aside from Venus Wars, I watched through the Time of Eve movie the other day. Now, when this show was coming out, I was the biggest fan of it. I listed it on any list of titles I ever made, dropping it’s name wherever I could. Heck, I accidentally made 2 threads for it on Bakawolf, because by the time the third (I think) episode came out, I had forgotten that I made the a thread after I watched the second episode. But watching through it all again, I know it’s probably cause I had seen it all before, but I wasn’t as impressed. I mean, I still enjoyed it, definitely. But it wasn’t as groundbreaking. The excessive shaky-cam started to irritate me. The characters are all like, super simplistic and sometimes blocky and awkwardly drawn. The females are a bit too “moe” (that is, generic ;)). There isn’t much animation in the show to look at. It’s pretty obviously done on a minimal budget.. But the backgrounds. The backgrounds still looked fantastic to me. And my last complaint is, I’m not sure how I liked it as a movie.. When it was made and crafted into episodes, linking them all together is a bit weird, and doesn’t really flow right. Though, I had already seen it all, and I was sitting there breaking it apart going “Okay, so episode 3 just started,” so maybe I should leave the judging of that up to someone who didn’t go through the ONA first.
Eh, I wanted to hold off posting about the movies until I could watch a few more, or watch some none-Japanese films/TV shows. But after watching Venus Wars, I felt like posting about it. But, hopefully in the future I’ll post up another entry talking about 4-5 western animated films.. I’ve got plenty of them I wanna watch, so it’s only a matter of finding the time.
Oh, and here’s a new short from Tannokojo