The stunning animation was the only thing keeping Judge Mitchell Hattaway awake during this mundane anime tale.
Dive into a deep sea military adventure!
Let's not and say we did.
In the near future, an eco-terrorist group known as the USR (I don't know what that stands for—it's never explained) is attacking naval warships. The leader of the USR, Admiral Red, doesn't want the Earth's oceans used as battlegrounds (even though this exactly what he himself is doing), and vows to continue his activities until the nations of the world meet his demands. To combat this terrorist threat, eleven nations have banded together to form the PKN, or Peace Keeping Navy. Each member nations sends its finest submarine to be part of the PKN fleet, except for Japan; Japan's contribution is the 707, an old, rundown heap of junk. The PKN leaders unveil their fleet in an elaborate ceremony, and the USR sees this as the perfect opportunity to launch a sneak attack; the PKN fleet is crippled (the PKN leaders obviously don't know anything about history—their fleet is packed together in a bottleneck harbor), and the fate of the world is left in the hands of crew of the 707. Will the 707 and its ragtag crew be able to stop the terrorist activities of the USR? Does anybody care?
Submarine 707R is a boring, clichéd, been-there, done-that anime tale. The story, characters, and hardware are all entirely too familiar. I was constantly reminded of Star Blazers while watching this. You know—old ship, untested crew, wise old captain, hotshot youngsters; heck, the 707 even resembles the Argo. (The design of some of the ships in the USR fleet is lifted from Irwin Allen's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, but I doubt if anyone under the age of thirty will notice.) Too much time is spent on unnecessary scenes and characters; you know where the story is headed, so why waste time getting there? I was especially annoyed by the numerous scenes focusing on the families of Admiral Red and Captain Hayami, skipper of the 707; I'm all for character development, but only when it involves interesting characters. (There is a somewhat amusing moment near the end in which Hayami's young daughter asks her mother to explain the meaning behind one of her father's rather crude sexual innuendos, but it's not worth sitting through 100 minutes of crap for one halfway decent joke.)
The animation itself is stunning; it's the only redeeming quality of Submarine 707. The underwater sequences are particularly well-done, bordering on photorealistic. There's a bit of computer-generated animation thrown into the mix, most notably in the shots of the various submarines; a few of these can be a bit jarring, as some of the CG work is a little too obvious—there's just something not right about seeing a submarine do 300 knots.
As can be expected, Geneon's technical presentation is impeccable. The transfer is absolutely beautiful; it's flawless. The audio is in the same league; I wasn't able to sample the original Japanese mix set to be offered on the final release (the review copy was a promotional disc, and contained only the English dub), but the English track is incredibly lively, with copious use of the surround channels and a healthy amount of rumbling bass, especially during the battles. (I detested the voice acting in the dub, but I almost always do.) No extras are included; from what I understand, Geneon has saved those for a separate, more elaborate, release.
Submarine 707R is a technical triumph, but it comes up short in every other category. Ignore it.
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