Green Legend Ran
Yet another Laserdisk buried within the vaults. A deluxe addition what's more, three disks, art, full color postcards and presentation box. I wonder how much that cost when it was new? Anyway, I reviewed it many years ago, when my average review was a paragraph long, and thought I'd replace that review before the aging LD died and the disk disposed of.
The story is set at some point in the future where mankind has managed to turn the world into a polluted death-trap. And then, from an "unknown outer space", come huge alien spaceships. They've come to save the environment from man's destruction. Unfortunately they're more into militant environmentalism than any sort of peaceful co-existence stuff, and consider mankind not only responsible but in the way of fixing. As a result they come to earth explosively, drain the world of air, water, animals and plants and seem perfectly happy for mankind to kill each other off fighting over the receding scraps.
It also seems to be working pretty well. One group of humans have formed an alliance with the alien invaders, receiving water in return for doing the aliens work. Another group of humans, called the hazard, fight against the aliens and their lackeys. While the remaining parts of humanity just try and survive in between these two forces and the ever more hostile world. However things are less stable than they seem. The hazard has a new plan, the aliens have a prophecy coming to fulfilment. Meanwhile the two characters we follow, an adventurous young boy and a silver haired girl, are going to end up right in the middle of it.
So, what to make of it. For a start it's sort of interesting how this "ecological disaster" scenario seems to have become a bit less novel than it probably once was. This story seems to have been written when people believe this state was right around the corner, because the cities and technology we see look fairly clunky and contemporary. It's hard to tell really, because the foundation of the show is over very fast. Paragraph one of the synopsis, setting up the story, takes about a minute to happen. As a result of which it's hard to get a feel for what the old world was like, the landing of the vessels and emergence of both the hazard and the rodo-ites. We're basically immediately into the story.
The story follows a young guy who's almost unbelievably headstrong. Running into fights, charging off on his own, setting himself amazingly ambitious goals. Then there's a strange silver haired girl who, in fine feminine tradition, is the quiet reflective one. Their roles in the series are established by quite aggressive and direct "visions", which lack subtlety. The boy is haunted by a childhood loss, and still seeks the person responsible to earn his revenge. Meanwhile the female is haunted by even more direct visions, a voice calling out to her to return to a home she has forgotten. They don't get a whole heap of time to discuss it though, before they are separated and the main story starts spinning.
And that story isn't too bad. We get to meet a neutral force, someone who believes the rodoists (the alien collaborators) and the hazard are both being too extreme. Their leader is very cool, and a great role model for ran (the young guy). We get to meet the hazard, and realise how brutal the war has made them. Meanwhile we also get to meet the rodoists and realise how corrupt they have become in their privileged positions. It's really not bad at all, some nice balancing of factions and some interesting encounters and action scenes. Even though these are long OAV episodes (45m each) some events are a little rushed because of the epic story they are trying to spin.
The problem is that some of the structure is weak, quite possibly as a result of adaption from the original story. There's lots of events and elements in the background that don't make much sense. Why would the world turn to deserts travelled only by "land ships"? Why did the aliens set in action a prophecy they in theory had the power to achieve immediately? How are the relatively tiny alien vessels holding all the oceans of the world? Why did the lead, when confronted with 12 nearly naked teenage girls, leave 11 to die? And what's with all the exotic designs and elements that spring from nowhere, seem to have no connection with the world other than being weird, and then vanish again.
The most obvious of these being the rodoites themselves. They're humans but they're very oddly designed to give them an "alien" appearance (I assume). However these are 80's aliens, and to modern eyes they look like disco rejects. Bright red robes, purple lipstick, face powder and mirror shades... I was expecting them to burst into a disco track at any time. They're led by freakish mutated cyborgs, who are served by naked women, for no reason I can detect other than the designer had fun inventing them. The reasonably strong story is greatly weakened through it's contrast with these bizarre designs. Still, the design notes indicated they had even greater terrors in the form of mutated, desert crossing, dolphin men... we can only be thankful for small mercies.
The conclusion lacks punch and plays out very weirdly. The final battle seems disconnected, a couple of individual encounters which it seems the leads just walk past. There's no sense of a dramatic conflict or heroism so much of the dramatic power is lost. Meanwhile the conclusion of the alien plans are sort of weird, and Aira's (the silver haired female) interaction with it nonsensical. She's too busy doing dramatics with Ran to realise what she's signing up for, and he's not paying attention either. And the final resolution to it all, while visually dramatic, doesn't seem to make much sense.
The production also has some issues. It's drawn with very simple and brutal linework (which I noticed was also quite pixellated on the LD), very simple and solid color, and really complex and painterly backgrounds. It doesn't really work together that well, the figures don't really fit well into environment and at times they seem overly bright (due to the solid colors and some odd color selection) and crude (due to the simple linework). They're also almost over animated, Ran bouncing around the screen like some sort of deformed SD monkey. The technology is not overly interesting. The core voices are good, although Ran over-acts, but as is usual drop strongly in skill for lesser characters. There's not a lot of music and what there is is not remarkable.
A decent story set in a "environmental catastrophe" future. The Aliens have come to save us from the damage we've done, but who's going to save us from them? The core story is quite decent, with some nice character work, but there's some gaps in the design, a relatively lack-luster conclusion and some not particularly impressive animation. Ultimately it's a decent watch, but disappointing in that it could have been much better.
Cite system revamp coming at some point in the future, but for now this will have to do. It looks like this title had quite wide distribution too, because there's lots of reviews out there.