Its continuing mission: to explore strange new hair…
My second foray into the world of Geneshaft is Orbit, the third volume in the series. With these episodes under my belt, some things irk me and some things are pleasant surprises. The rest of my opinion is unchanged. In other words, though the details may differ somewhat from the previous volume, Geneshaft: Orbit remains a solid yet derivative effort.
The first thing I noticed about volume three was the same thing I noticed about volume two: it is exactly like Star Trek: The Next Generation. The similarities were so blatant that I was calling out dialogue along with the characters. "Onscreen!…"."beam me up…"."you have the bridge, number one…".all made their appearances at their due time. The only thing missing was Geordi's spraypainted hairclip visor.
Once I got past the Trek references to enjoy the original bits in the show, an annoyance I noticed in Halo grew more distinct. It is a staple of science fiction to have future people comment on the politics and transgressions of previous generations. Maybe we trashed the ecosystem, or perhaps unleashed a deadly nano-robotic self-aware virus intent on annihilating humankind. To them it is history, but as viewers we know they are talking about us. We get a big chuckle and then ponder what we can do to alter the outcome. This convention works when employed in a subtle, believable, or apocalyptic fashion. In Geneshaft, the sin du jour of 21st century knuckleheads (again, that's us) is letting our wacky genetic codes dictate our raucous behavior. That's right, folks, our crime was being human. For once, we didn't do anything radically stupid, we simply settled for imperfect DNA. But in the 23rd century, everyone is genetically designed. They look down on us the same way we look upon trilobites. Every other scene has some slam directed towards the audience in a ham-fisted barrage of chastisement. This tainted my enjoyment of the series, especially since we're being insulted for having the DNA squiggles that mommy and daddy gave us. How many times today have you discussed the folly of 1800s doctors who spread diphtheria by reusing dirty scalpels? How about those wacky gold miners and the unwarranted optimism that founded hundreds of doomed cities in the American west? I talk about them all the time, don't you?
So it walks like Star Trek and talks like a nagging old history teacher. What redeems Geneshaft?
The show has an edge. Girls get backhanded by misogynist male pigs, women get into fistfights with each other, old flames line up on opposite sides of the battlefield. People die, some needlessly. The show takes many risks and thus holds your attention.
The characters become intertwined as well. It becomes difficult to perceive who is good who is bad, and who dislikes whom. The web of conflict and character grows deep. An unflappable queen of logic gets hot and bothered. A haughty specimen of genetic perfection finds some nasty emotions lying dormant. Fear creeps in; people loosen up. The path doesn't stick to the expected. Granted, some subplot twists are written in neon for all to see, but the rest is surprisingly fluid.
Let's talk about hair for a moment. Do you know anyone with shocks of pink hair streaked with white? How about women with voluptuous curls of perfect dark hair down to their ankles? Gotta love anime hair. It defies gravity and reason.
I've read some complaints about the dub quality, but for the life of me I cannot see why. After listening to half of each episode in both languages to get a feel for the dub, I was tempted to leave the dub on. The American voices are very well matched with the characters, clearly depicting menace, sarcasm, hostility, or innocence. In some cases, the dub was even more effective than the sub. I am amazed at how faithful the dubbed translation is to the original text while still matching lip movements. If this is a bad dub, I guess I'm not a good judge of dubbing.
Again, my real issue is value. Geneshaft is well worth a look, particularly since the entire series fits into 13 episodes. But at over nine dollars per episode, the price of admission is steep.
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