Venus Wars Anime Review
/ Theatrical Movie / Drama / 13-up
Not to every anime fan's taste, but a top-notch classic anime war story.
...A more-realistic Macross goes to Venus, minus the aliens and giant robots.
Venus War Story
US Release By
Sci-Fi War Story
What's In It
- Mass Combat
- Violence: 3 (significant)
- Nudity: 1 (mild)
- Sex: 2 (moderate)
- Language: 2 (moderate)
Some time in the not too distant future, mankind has colonized Venus. After terraforming the planet to make the temperatures bearable and the air breathable, settlers seeking a life better than that on Earth came. But, as with Earth, not everything goes as planned. Life on Venus is hard, and the people there pass the time on watching a violent sport that works like a cross between a motorbike race and football. Hiro is just another one of the players, but when a neighboring nation invades his home country, he and his teammates decide to do their best to help out the homeland. Meanwhile, a reporter visiting from Earth, Susan Sommers, is reporting on the war and hunting for a Pulitzer. But, war isn't as simple or clean as it first seems to either of them.
An anime classic, Venus Wars is a feature length, and quality, film.
It's a classic war story--we have a young hero (no pun intended) caught in the middle of a bad situation, desperate to get involved and doing his best to fight for his country and become a man. And, as a counterpoint, we have the detached reporter, thrust into the middle of battle and forced to become involved with people she comes to realize are more than just a story. Finally, we have the war itself, which is both a grand spectacle and unusually realistic, complete with generals pulling strings from afar and confusing motives for those on the front.
The film has a few weak points, mostly coming from its "classic anime" feel: The heroics of some young main characters are played up, and there are a few overly simple characters. This is a bit at odds with the realism of the rest of the story, but all in all it works well, the story is engrossing, and the characters are both believable and human. This is backed up by quality Japanese acting, and even the dub is passable.
Venus Wars is also a visual spectacle--all the more impressive if you consider how old it is. The animation is fluid, and the war sequences are absolutely stunning--smooth and very realistic. The art is also generally good, although the old-school character designs won't be to everyone's taste (they do, however, match the original comic quite well). Finally, the mechanical design and general look and feel of Venus are both original and have a gritty realism--the weapons (for once) actually look like the real thing. There is also one technique used that is almost never seen in anime--during a couple of the driving sequences, the road and background is real film, with hand-drawn cels overlaid on it. The footage is very grainy and in a sepia tone, so the effect works quite well--it produces a great "hand held" camera style without the benefit of fancy computer tricks.
Overall, Venus Wars is a fine piece of classic anime, with a solid plot and characters supporting impressively detailed and realistic animation. A good war story, and a good movie, by any standard.
Notes and Trivia
Based on a comic book of the same name by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko.
The Japanese voice behind Hiro, Katsuhida Uekusa, was primarily a boy-band singer. Although, like many such talents in Japan, he also performed on TV periodically, this is his only anime role.
Susan Sommers's name is, one expects, an in-joke--it doesn't appear that the actress was supposed to have switched careers in the 21st century. In a totally random coincidence, her Japanese voice is supplied by Eriko Hara, whose best-known role is Hikaru in the Kimagure Orange Road series; in the future of the characters from that series, Kyosuke ends up a war correspondent, although Hikaru goes on to become a dancer.
Staff & Cast
Original Japanese Cast
Hiro: Katsuhida Uekusa (Note: Not usually an anime actor)
Maggie: Yuko Mizutani
Sue: Eriko Hara
Miranda: Yuko Sasaki
Gary: Goro Naya
Will: Yoshitada Ohtsuka
Rob: Masami Kikuchi
Kurtz: Suichi Ikeda
Donner: Kaneto Shiozawa
Maggie's Father: Yousuke Akimoto
Jack: Kyosuke Yanada
Tao: Hiroshi Kawaguchi
Kenny: Naoki Makishima
Jeff: Kouichi Yamadera
Chris: Tsutomu Kashiwakura
Manuel: Mitsuaki Hoshino
Cathy: Konami Yoshida
English Dub Cast
Hiro: Ben Fairman
Maggie: Anna Alba
Sue: Denica Fairman
Miranda: Jocelyn Cunningham
Gary: Bob Sessions
Will: Bradley Cole
Rob: Michael Morris
Kurtz: William Dufries
Donner: Peter Marinker
Based on manga "The Venus Wars" by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
Producer: Yukio Kurata
Director: Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
Screenplay: Yuichi Sasamoto, Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
Art Director: Shichiro Kobayashi
Character Design: Hiroshi Yokoyama, Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
Mechanical Design: Makoto Kobayashi, Hiroshi Yokoyama
Available in North America from US Manga Corps on bilingual DVD. Was previously available on an earlier bilingual DVD, and subtitled and dubbed VHS.
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