E.Y.E.S. of mars
Yay, another obscure tape from the anime collection that a local University library probably doesn't even realize they have. I wasn't actually sure if it was anime, the trailers were all for horrendous kiddy cartoons (what the hell are the "ketchup vampires"?). However given the first 5 minutes is full of exploding spaceships I knew it probably was.
The video begins with exploding space ships and burning cities in some inter-planetary war. But it's going to be a long time before you know why. The actual story starts with a young boy named "Dew" running from the law in some sci-fi city. It seems he's one of the rebels the authorities have been having trouble with. Apparently life in this city, full of polluted air and undrinkable water, is becoming unbearable and he's been sent to a secret and hidden oasis to find the young girl who might be able to change things.
And then, seemingly in another world, is E.Y.E.S., a school for psychically gifted young women. Set in pristine wilderness, blessed with fresh air and water, and suffused with a near cosmic sense of peace. It is here these young girls, who have no memories of how they came to be there, increase their powers and come in touch with the universal lifeforce. And among them is Eve, who has terrible dreams of destruction, but who might also have an important role to play in the future of mankind.
This anime really, really, feels like a cult propaganda film. Not since the equally terrible "The Golden Laws" have I seen a title so obviously based around a philosophy and so intent on pushing, preaching and being pretentious in order to convince you of the wisdom of their position. The anime is not so much a story as an argument, or more properly a sermon, shaped into the form of a story. And, personally, my intense personal cynicism comes down like a blast barrier to protect me from stuff like this.
Not that there's any great danger of being able to take it seriously. It's basically pure and total new-age schmaltz. You see the psychic training involves girls (males are incapable of finding inner peace I guess?) lolling around in the ultimately fake forest and being lectured to be at one with the inner mind that binds all living things. "I can see the forces of life within nature!" explains one little drug-addled moppet. Sure you can dear, have some more of these pretty colored little pills. Of course, this being anime, becoming at one with the cosmic harmony also grants you an energy aura and kick ass mental powers if you're that way inclined. Come to think of it, that's probably why there are no males, they'd be having a lot more fun with it. Although the local tough girl, Sarah (who for some reason reminds me of Lufy from Gall Force), does do her best.
The story itself is a convoluted mess much less important than the message it's intended to demonstrate. All sorts of wacko new-age philosophy is included in the story as major plot elements. Ancestor worship, the destructive forces of mankind (that can only be overcome with love, care and hardwork), the evils of technology, atlantis and even the possibility of being re-born as pure spirits. In this movie they all lose, but win in the metaphysical sense... surely one of the yuckiest conclusions ever.
And what I hate most about it is that it doesn't actually have a whole heap of wisdom to offer. The characters, despite being in touch with the cosmic oneness, end up being largely weak. The fabled ancestor offers some pretty basic philosophy that's really not any practical help to the very immediate problems they're facing. The actions of mankind can be destructive, we need to be a small part of a balanced eco-system to survive, we need to restrain our urge to consume. This is no longer a novel observation, and this title by sentimentalising and trivialising these very real concerns actually moves us backwards. While at the same time being preachy and dull to actually watch.
Can it be enjoyed by someone less cynical than I? I don't honestly think so. The new age philosophy is very shallow, slow moving and long running. Remove that and you have a really rather flimsy story with some sizeable plot holes and not much action, suspense or character work to keep you entertained. It really only is a vehicle for the beliefs of the creators. And I honestly don't think there's many people still buying this sort of stuff.
The production is not bad, they've clearly invested money and care in making it. The technical design is pretty weak, and lesser characters are also carelessly designed, but there's some sparks of personality there in the form of the main characters. Motion is clean and the coloring is attractive for the hidden oasis and all burning reds and blacks for the polluted city. There's a little bit of action, and some psychic powers, but not really that much and it doesn't lead anywhere or provide much in the way of excitement. Voices show a lot of variability, dropping strongly in quality as we get to lesser characters. The "crowd" voices when dew returns home are painfully inept. The music is period stuff, not too bad when hidden safely in the background. In one scene, in which Eves powers manifest strongly, we discover that the sounds of cosmic harmony are apparently rather dated and soulless 70's electronica. Which in itself should really be enough to put you off the whole thing.