Saturday, June 30, 2012

Anime Review No. 36, "Birth: A War of Two Worlds"

Hello, I'm the Eclectic Dude and I review it for the lolz.

Well, sorry for the delay. I've been busy the past week, what with midterms and then contending with a recent heat wave down here. Urge, anyway, to this week's review.

Well, this is a first, as I am reviewing something from the 1980s. I generally don't watch anime from the 80s for a few reasons. One, I'm really more of a 90s anime fan despite being born in the late 80s. Two, a lot of it is science fiction through many of its subgenres. Three and last, its not cheap/easy to get some of the series from that era. When you think 80s anime, you think Macross, Gundam, etc.

Not to fear, this week's review is over a movie I found at Atlanta Anime Day last November. It is called "Birth" with a subtitle: "A War of Two Worlds". Alternate titles include Planet Busters and World of the Talisman. A 1984 anime movie, it has an interesting history. Originally done by Kaname Production (now defunct I suppose), it has been released twice in the States. The first time was by Streamline Pictures back in 1987 on VHS tape. In 2004 and 2009, ADV Films picked up the licence for it and released on DVD with a brand new dub. So, is it any good or should it stay forgotten? Let's found out.

The basic story of the movie deals with a group of people living on a planet devastated by a past calamity. There is Nam, the hero; Rasa, the token young woman; Bao, middle aged bandit and Kim, Bao's partner in crime so to speak. They are on a quest to retrieve the SHADE, a super weapon from some far off planet that grants the yielder power (or something, its very vague). Standing in the way are the Inorganics, robotic creatures who have taken over the planet after the calamity and also seek out the SHADE. Gee, sounds familiar, eh? Of course, they don't prevent the impending apocalypse that results from use of another superweapon, which goes off for the stupidest reason ever.

Now, the positives. Umm, it is well a told story. It uses the visuals with music for certain segments in order to tell the story, showing us what happens instead of telling us. Yet, it uses just enough dialogue to get the plot along, which is pretty simple by today's standards. Seriously, the plot of this can fit into one measly paragraph, as demonstrated above.

The script is not half bad. It is abound with several humorous moments, with some random Japanese sayings sprinkled in for good measure. It is also free of a lot of technobabble, so even a casual viewer can enjoy it.  On a related note, the dub is ok. Just because ADV Films released doesn't mean this has voice actors typical of the series they released, like Monica Rial, Spike Spencer, Allison Keith, or Tiffany Grant. It seems they just got their list of actors who don't work often for this dub. Still, it is OK, not great but probably not terrible as the first dub (haven't watched it with the first english dub, its on a out of print VHS).

That's not to say it's all good. For 1984, the animation is very crude but effective. This movie is a full-on fossil, by this point in time. Even on the 2009 DVD I own, it still looks very ok, but its a product of an era done with just hand-drawn cel animation, an era now long forgotten it seems. The soundtrack is also old school, being mostly 80s techno music. Granted, it works here in presenting a look and feel of being on a  strange and alien world. Lastly, there are lots of scenes which are just still frames with nothing happening. I swear, if you cut out about 10-15 minutes of this from the movie, it would be better paced.

Overall, a good movie, if you like science fiction or obscure stuff (like I do), then check this out. I won't say its essential viewing, but its a pretty good and entertaining movie. Also, considering it's a Heat Wave Weekend, this is something to watch while inside. Then again, there are so much more that you could watch that's better, but this movie isn't too bad.

Next week is UltraManiac, Episodes 1-3. Oh boy ........

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