ADV Films // 1996 // 225 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // October 21st, 2004
Love. War. Giant Robots.
Jovian Lizards have destroyed the United Earth Forces' base on Mars. Earth's only hope for survival is the High Mobile Battleship Nadesico, an armored space cruiser privately funded and operated by the Nergal Corporation. There's only one problem -- the Nadesico is manned by a crew of teenage misfits, and captained by a young girl who is more concerned with the sudden reappearance of her childhood crush. How can such a motley crew hope to carry out the Nadesico's mission?
It sounds pretty stupid when you put it on paper, but Martian Successor Nadesico is actually rather entertaining. The producers have taken every anime plot device, stereotype, archetype, and cliché, thrown them in a blender, then served up the result. They knew how ridiculous these things generally are, so they decided to have a little fun. Of course, you can't satirize a big anime space opera without actually creating a big anime space opera, so you'll also find the requisite number of robots, battles, and heroic sacrifices, thus enabling the series to be enjoyed on more than one level
The hero (if you can call him that) is Akito, a young man who wants to be a cook, but is forced to pilot a warrior mecha; not surprisingly, there's a bit of mystery surrounding his past. Yurika, the Nadesico's captain, is the daughter of one of the Earth Forces' top admirals; she's been in love with Akito since they were children growing up on Mars. There's also the old coot military mentor, Fukube, who lost most of his fleet during the Jovian's attack on Mars; Akito distrusts Fukube, believing the old man's ineptitude and cowardice led to the destruction of the Martian base and the death of his parents. We're also introduced to Jiro Yamada, a reckless pilot who joined up to fight because of his love for an old anime series. The most interesting character is Ruri, a young girl who acts as a sort of perverted Greek chorus. Ruri believes every other member of the ship's crew is a fool and she has no problem pointing this out; she often breaks down the fourth wall and addresses the audience directly.
There are quite a few nice spins put on the material. Jiro is obsessed with Gekiganger 3, an anime series reminiscent of Gathchaman and Mazinger Z. He is constantly watching old episodes and trying to explain to the rest of the crew why the show is the greatest thing since sliced bread; he even goes so far as to refuse to answer to his own name, instead only responding when referred to by the name of his favorite character. Jiro's story eventually comes to reflect the plot of Gekiganger 3, and he also convinces Akito that the anime's views on heroism and sacrifice should be the model for anyone who has signed up for combat. It's amusing to see an anime series comment on the possible effects of anime on a nation's youth; imagine volunteering to pilot a big, fun robot, only to be blown out of the sky during your first sortie. There is an attempted mutiny by the crew, who are unhappy with a contract stipulation forbidding them to engage in conjugal relations. The computer system on the Nadiseco relays information via a system of screens able to appear anytime, anywhere; I was reminded of Internet popup ads, although I didn't see any messages related to gambling or male sexual enhancement. I also liked how the series referenced some of its own anime predecessors. There is a moment when Yurika, unsure of what it means to be a leader, asks Ruri to pull up some information on famous captains, and the computer's first choice is Captain Avatar from Space Battleship Yamato; Captain Gloval from Macross and characters from several other series also pop up during the computer's tutorial.
ADV's presentation is typical of its efforts with other series from this era. Like most anime from the '80s and early '90s, Nadesico has a rather muted color palette. Accepting that, the transfer is admirable, with no artifacts and very little edge enhancement. A few scenes reveal what are apparently flaws in the source elements, but it doesn't become too distracting. The English dub and original Japanese stereo soundtracks exhibit pretty good fidelity, so it pretty much comes down to a matter of taste. Channel separation won't knock your socks off, but there are a few surprises, most notably in a scene in which Akito is being chased through the ship. A frying pan is thrown at him, and the sound travels across the entire soundstage. Not bad, that. Extras include character bios, production sketches, clean opening and closing animation, commentary with members of the English language cast, and ADV previews.
Martian Successor Nadesico would be a worthy addition to any anime collection. I think it's safe to say it has something for everyone. It's also a pretty good bargain, considering you get nine episodes for a low price. All charges are dropped. Court is adjourned.
Review content copyright © 2004 Mitchell Hattaway; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 225 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Character Bios
* Production Sketches
* Clean Opening/Closing Animation