Anime Meta-Review


A.W.O.L. Absent without Leave


By Date




Title Info

  • seen: 1-4
  • Series state: Will watch more at some time.
  • type: unknown
  • grade: flawed
  • made: unknown
  • Review created: Sun Dec 10 14:21:12 EST 2000
  • mod: none

Well, at least this anime really knows what it wants to be when it grows up. This one intends to be hard core special forces gung-ho stuff, albeit in a sci-fi world.

The story beings with some sort of inter-planetary alliance in power. They've built some cool military toy's, including planet buster rockets and orbital killer satellites. However they don't seem to be too smart, because a small terrorist group manages to steal all 7 planet-busters along with destroying a city. A task they achieve with no losses. Meanwhile it turns out that the killer satellites are controlled, and understood by only a single loony scientist. Ooops, turns out he's actually with the terrorists as well. It seems the only thing the military commanders can actually manage to do is look sour, act insulted, and listen to the damage reports roll in. Surely the only hope is the special forces....although when they get wiped out as well they call in Major Hyatt. He's got `bad-ass' written all over him, and he'll recruit a bunch of other `hard-cases' to save the future of the alliance.

It's a pretty familiar sort of basis and there's lots of familiar elements. There's no doubt that the bad guys are bad since they do things like blow up a planet to test their new toys. Hyatt is tough and cool, albeit not very talkative. And the people he recruits, including convicted criminals, will each have strong personalities and an area in which they're complete masters. While just a handful of people they've got the skill to do what the rest of the army can't.

But here's where the problem surfaces. These show's really need pretty tight writing to get the sense of urgency going. To explain why the situation is so serious, why the team's plan is so clever and also why they're the only ones who can do it. And, frankly, the writing for this show could do with some help. The military's complete inaction and inability just doesn't make sense. And it's far too blatant to ignore. For example when they find the ship full of planetbusters they try to board it with a special forces team. How do they get near a ship, or on one, without being noticed? and why not simply destroy it with their own fleet? After the satellite system turns on them the best they can do is get a bunch of people to try and guess the doctors password? At best it's weak and at worst it destroys any sense of reality or credibility.

Likewise the stylish suspense and clever action of a special forces film is also missing. It simply isn't cool to watch and the action is far from exciting. But then the production is fairly minimal all round. Weird, and strangely old looking, tech design is the order of the day. The visual appearance is suprisingly simple, with fairly low detail and blocky coloring. Character appearance, anatomy and clothing also look strange. Voices seem okay, but the dialogue lacks character.

It is watchable, and you can see what they were aiming for, but at the end of the day this show doesn't have the skill or style to meet its aims. This may be partly because other movies, both animated and live-action, have already gone over this ground and done it better.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:15 WST 2009