Hm, is it just me or does anyone else see some Jule's Verne elements in this anime? In any case those who like watching huge machines of war get reduced to much smaller bits of smoking metal might well enjoy this short series.
We begin our watery quest at a crucial moment in Japan's history. The crew of the super advanced submersible battleship `Ra' have just intercepted an American radio warning. It states that Hiroshima has just been nuked which is both a serious event in itself and an almost certain indicator that the war is over. While they are adapting themselves to this news another super advanced submersible battleship appears, flying the American flag, and firing on the Ra. Since both of these battleships contain far too much power, and a hidden danger to humanity, the best outcome is mutual annihilation. Although one officer, and an important (and exotic) observer, are ordered to escape and bear witness.
Where exactly did this hyper-advanced technology come from? Well, that's a rather important part of the plot. Let it simply be said that there is another humanoid race living on earth and their technology is impressive. Unfortunately their compassion for humanity is not nearly on the same scale. They have sent observers to the `human' world to determine whether mankind is anything but a dangerous threat. And should the finding be negative all their science will be bent towards removing every remnant of that threat. Of course the observers themselves have reacted to humanity in very different ways. This has caused division to spring up between the observers, for information and technology to leak into the human world and for certain of the observers to take matters into their own hands.
That's perhaps a bit spoilerfull, but I can't think of a way to cut it down more than that. However I think I can say something about the way in which this is all represented. The first elements is that this show is placed in the modern world and has lots of material for gung-ho militarism. Lots of accurately rendered military technology meets some sci-fi military technology to duke it out with some fairly alien super tech weapons. There's actually an awful lot of battle scenes and massive explosions. There's also quite a lot of detail in these battles, with orders, strategem, shots of battleship gun's loading and shell's flying. And the scale is huge, some of the weapons and effects are impressive in the size and destructive power. This also leads to a pretty sizable bodycount, although this is generally not graphic.
The other element is the human element. And this is much smaller than one might expect. Basically there's only one element on earth's side and one important element on the alien side. Thus the battle is not so much the meeting of armies as it is a drawn out duel between two awesome opponents. Indeed whenever the `normal' forces get involved their military power is almost completely inconsequential. Furthermore there's only really a handful of important characters, with various ties between them, that leads to a social situation that is small and tight in its scope.
As such it's a weird mix of elements. It's got a real feel of an adventure story, combined with some impressive war scenes and a bit of human drama. There's some impressive observation and design on all the military gear, which can excite or bore depending on personal preference. The human drama itself is perhaps a touch over-wrought, and not original or deep enough to carry the show by itself, but it makes a reasonable counterpoint to all the naval stuff. On the whole it's quite enjoyable stuff, but a bit too obvious and simple to really be a classic.
The plot itself has some nagging holes to it. They're not too blatant so you sort of cruise over them, but a while later you wonder why they're there. Things like where mankind actually got all the cool toys, who's crewing the `evil' vessels and why the bad guys seem to be much better funded. The conclusion is relatively satisfying but it raises a significant question and suggests that there is more to the story. The Anime Movie Guide suggests, while reviewing the first part, that this is because four episodes were planned. Although nothing I can find suggests that more than two were actually made. Oh, and i've still got no idea what the title refers to.
The production itself is pretty impressive. There's some very nice special effects and impressive tools of war. And, as mentioned, there's lots of detail and mechanical fan-service to keep fans of the mechanisms of war interested. There's even a degree of novelty in the design of the vehicles but especially the awesome `alien' war machines. The people involved also look quite good and both motion and emotion are quite well represented. All in all quite solid and watchable production. The voices are good but don't stand out too much while the music is stirring military stuff from a named orchestra (forget which though).