Voices of a Distant Star Anime Review
Hoshi no Koe
Voice of a Star
US Release By
Futuristic romance, Mecha
Two highschool lovers are separated by time and space.
(all rated on a 0.5-10.0 basis)
Visuals - 9.9
Continuity - 9.68
Sound FX - 10.0
Voices (DUB)- 7.67
Voices (SUB)- 9.85
Characters - 9.6
Extras - 8.0
Personal Opinion - 10.0
OVERALL AVERAGE - 9.33
SUB AVERAGE - 9.57
DUB AVERAGE - 9.26
Now some films look good. Some films look great. But this film is incredible. The 3D animated battle sequences are... for lack of better word: exquisite, and the characters look great.
I found the film very easy to follow.
From the sound of a machine gun firing to the Australian-accented UN computer (speaks in English even in the Japanese version--kawaii), the films sounds awesome.
SUB - The sub was simply the better choice. Mr. Shinkai's voice is simply perfect for Noboru. The actress they found for Mikako was really well played also, though the soon-to-be Mrs. Shinkai (who played Mikakao in the Director's Cut of the film) was rather lacking.
DUB - As far as dubs go, it was good, but not great. I didn't really like Mikako's voice actress. She sounded too childish to me (though to her credit she sounded convincing at the end and she can scream really well ). Noboru's voice actor was kind of boring. He had a deep plodding voice that never seemed to change its pitch. I dunno, the dub was OK, but doesn't stand up to better ones like Inuyasha or Bebop.
There are only three characters in this film. Not joking. There's Noboru (male lead), Mikako (main character/female lead), and the ultra kawaii Australian computer (uhh... kawaii computer?). All are well done and easy to fall in love with.
I had heard of VDS. I had seen ads for it in my anime magazine. I thought it looked enjoyable, myself liking romance in anime. I had shelled out all $50 of birthday money I had had on VDS and the first volume of NOIR (which is also an awesome anime). After the purchase I found myself half-regretting the purchase. After all, I could've gotten Splinter Cell, the game I'd wanted since it came out about a year and a half ago, with all that cash. The thought briefly crossed my mind about returning the impulse buy. And I had a feeling I was going to.
Then I turned on my TV.
If you opted to skip my boring story, this is where the REAL review begins. That was just setup.
Put simply: Voices of a Distant Star is the most emotional anime I've seen in a long time. I had no idea so many feelings, so much compassion, and so much love could be put into such a skimpy period of time.
For those of you who don't know, the film is less than 30 minutes. Before I bought this, I classified that time as "about the size of a Kenshin episode", now I classify it as "about the size of Voices". Though it might as well have been called an eternity.
Voices starts out by introducing Mikako, our hero. We as of yet have no feelings for her, she's just a relatively bland girl in a Gundam-looking thing with a cell phone in her hand. You know, the category of anime girls that are 'kind of cute', but not really 'attractive'. Well, anyway, she has flashbacks to when she was on earth and we have the intro to the male lead, Noboru. It's quite obvious the two are boyfriend and girlfriend and are in love, even though right out of middle school, going into high. Both 15.
While riding home on a bike, both look overhead and see a bunch of 'Tracers', the official name for the aforementioned Gundam-like mecha. Mikako reveals to Noboru that she has been chosen by the UN to go up into space in a tracer and fight off the Tarsian strike force (a rather stereotypical evil alien race that destroyed an Earth survey team when they landed on their home planet of Mars).
The pace picks up from here as we cut to Mikako training on Mars in her Tracer. She whoops ass, but the importance of the cell phone is introduced as it is the only form of communication with Noboru. And only through text-messaging. The fleet moves on to Jupiter and then to Pluto, unfortunately for them, the entire Tarsian fleet is camping out at Pluto after dispatching a few Tarsians (and the English Mikako VA letting out this awesome scream halfway through) the UN fleet is overwhelmed, and makes and emergency warp 1 lightyear away to escape certain Tarsiany death.
Good news - Mikako's fine. Bad news - It now takes over a year to exchange mail with Noboru. Not to mention the fact that though the warp may have seemed like 20 seconds Mikako time, it was over a year to Noboru.
The fleet is forced to warp once again. 8 lightyears this time. I won't tell you how it ends, but it is an amazing movie. And believe me, to get all the emotions across, you have to actually see it.
Oh, and it might be legitimate to mention that all of the animation, script, story, CG, and story was accomplished by one man - Makoto Shinkai.
I shall eagerly await what Mr. Shinkai throws our way next, but I doubt it'll stand up to this.
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Notes and Trivia
There is also a single-volume graphic novel adaptation of the story, available in English from Tokyopop.
Note that, like Shikai's other works, Voices of a Distant Star effectively has two titles--a Japanese one, and an English one. The English caption existed from the beginning, and can be considered to be the title just as much as "Hoshi no Koe."
US DVD Review
Not much to mention here, sadly. The disc contains an interview with Mr. Shinkai, a (lacking) Directors Cut of VDS, some trailers, trademark ADV previews, etc. As a note of interest, the DVD also has a reversible cover (Samurai X esque), but instead of the opposite side featuring the Japanese cover for Voices it instead has a cover for She and Her Cat, Mr. Shikai's first project and (IMO) the best extra feature on the disc. Not much.
Some kids under 13 may not get the plot, or may not be interested. Also, there is some blood.
Violence: 3 - When the aliens are killed, a bunch of blood flies, but it isn't really shown much.
Nudity: 0 - Nada.
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - A very well done romance.
Language: 0 - Don't think they curse at all.
Staff & Cast
Original Japanese Cast
Mikako Nagamine: Sumi Muto
Noboru Terao: Chihiro Suzuki
Operator of the Lysithea: Donna Burke
Japanese Cast (Original Version)
Mikako Nagamine: Mika Shinohara
Noboru Terao: Makoto Shinkai
English Dub Cast
Mikako Nagamine: Cynthia Martinez
Noboru Terao: Adam Conion
Orignal Concept/Producer: Makoto Shinkai
Voice Director: Toshiki Kameyama
Sound Producer: Kiyoshi Okabe Sound Effect: Pastral Sound Recording: Youji Nishimura Producer: Yoshihiro Hagiwara
Lyrics: Huji Bessho
Composer Arranger: Hiroyuki Matsugashita
Shinger: Bluem of Youth
Theme: "Through the Years and Far Away (Hello, Little Star)"
Lyrics: K. Juno
Production by TV Tokyo, Sony Music Entertainment