Sunday, 21 November 2010

Film Review: Venus Wars (1989)

Based on the manga by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, Venus Wars is based on the premise that Humans have built cities on Venus after a comet collides with the planet, dispersing the atmosphere and making it inhabitable. But the people of Venus are split into two nation states, the southern continent of Aphrodia and the northern continent of Ishtar. When Ishtar attacks and occupies Io, the capital city of Aphrodia, a group of bikers, along with a reporter visiting the planet, get caught up in the unrest afterwards and must find a way to survive and fight back.

Our main protagonist is Hiro Seno (the hero, get it?), a driver in a brutal sport involving a one wheeled motorbike, and a cynic when it come to anything involving the government. He’s seen for himself the lies they tell and soon realises that though Ishtar has invaded, it’s the native Aphrodians that he needs to be careful of, particularly the police. Eventually he and his friends decide to strike back by taking out one of the opposing army’s tanks, and in the process get enlisted into the resistance.

The animation is what you would expect from an anime in 1989, and some of the layouts owe a nod to Star Wars (particularly when the setting changes to among the resistance) but the film has a design all of its own. The look of the technology is very interesting and the one wheeled motorbikes look suitably cool for you to not question how exactly it could ever work – not that that’s much of a concern for the average anime viewer anyway. The first half of the film feels very different to the second half, with the oppression in clear evidence at the start, and the depiction of living in an occupied city suitably foreboding. The second half loses a certain amount of this darkness, but is inevitable when it comes to depicting the “fight back” stage of the story.

Yes, she is as annoying as she looks.

While clichéd (wasn’t most anime in the ‘80s and ‘90s a bit clichéd?) Venus Wars is entertaining and uses different animation techniques in adding real life footage to the animation during some of the battles, not always to great effect but brave nonetheless. The dubbing isn’t bad, and the detail always evident in the anime genre is there. This isn’t the clean type of anime seen in Princess Mononoke or other later films, and is all the better for it. Well worth a watch if you can get a copy, as sadly Venus Wars has still not been released in a region 2 format, but if you can find a region 1 copy (that doesn’t cost the earth) then this film is definitely one to enjoy if you like old school anime.

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