Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Anime Review: Project Blue Earth SOS

So I was looking for a shorter series to watch with school going on and remembered I'd seen ANN streaming this and it was only six episodes. I check out a few reviews first and man, they weren't kidding about how campy this is! So be forewarned, if you can't take all of those 1950s/60s alien space invasions played straight (with a lot of Hardy Boys action mixed in) then you should stay way far away from this show.

Project Blue Earth SOS
Summary: Sometime in the not-so-distant raygun gothic future, Billy and Penny are both looking into a series of mysterious disappearance when everything is revealed, aliens are here and they want to enslave the Earth! They've got several plans but do they have any that can stand up to a bunch of useless adults, a semi-useful secret organization that has been planning for this, and two boy geniuses?

The Good: As odd as it sounds, the show really wouldn't have worked if the tropes hadn't been played straight and mocked itself instead (mind you there does seem to be a little bit of lampshading in the last segment but it's really justified by that point). So instead of being a parody of all the 1950s/60s stories of alien invasions it's more of a homage to them, just with decent looking art instead of horrible special effects. I was caught off guard by one or two of the twists so I can't say if I simply don't know all the old tropes or if the writers got creative but either way it was interesting to compare what a modern day variant of this story would do instead. It honestly had it's amusing points (along the lines of it's-so-absurd-it's-silly mind you) and I didn't regret checking it out.

The Bad: While the characters do have some personality they're pretty constrained by all the older tropes and I would have liked to see them grow and step out more by the end. And that is my biggest complaint with the show, I can take a bit of a hokey plot because it was so amusing but the relatively flat characters just didn't grab me no matter what they were doing. This is true for all the characters, I found Penny the most likeable out of all of them but even he had these odd periods of angst, and if you're going to make a story based on half a century, and now mocked, ideas you really need to put extra effort into the other areas of the story and I do feel like the characters got short shifted.

The Art: Like I said earlier, the central city of Metropolis (which is apparently in Louisiana? THAT got a few giggles out of me because I've never seen anyone put the capital of the world there) is done in the raygun gothic style which was cool to see since it's a rather dated view of the future and the backgrounds looked pretty detailed. The character designs also managed to invoke the 50s and the OP visuals were pretty amusing for also invoking that era.

The Music: The soundeffects for this show are perfect, they have the hokey sounding UFO noises and the slightly different hokey sounding raygun sounds as well as a few other blasts to the past. The OP also sounds like it came straight out of the 50s and it seems like the producers just had fun with this. The ED however, just a scrolling text with no images, felt a bit odd and more like a standard j-pop song but I was still giggling over the raygun sounds to really care. ANN had the dub streaming and I felt like a lot of the voices felt flat, maybe they too were feeling too constrained by the characters but I probably would've watched the dub anyway since it is set in the US.

Overall I liked the series and would recommend it to anyone who either likes bad movies (since this is a bit like that admittedly) or who just likes something silly to watch but I doubt I'll get it on DVD, just doesn't have a lot of rewatch value.