pronounced to, as in
me to the moon)
is a two-part OVA from director Fumihiko Sori. Fans of Appleseed, one of
past projects, will instantly recognise the visual style here: its
all about sleek CGI animation, with nary a hand-drawn character in
sight. The environments and characters are rendered in 3D and given a
cel-shaded look. The inspiration for this film is
a manga created by Yukinobu Hoshino back in the 80s.
The two stories here,
come from a whole volume of works known for their hard SF approach.
orbit takes place onboard a massive earth-orbiting station, essentially
a giant gun, whose task it is to fire containers loaded with supplies to
the burgeoning moon base. The hard nut commander of this station is
about to have his life turned upside down: first a mysterious woman from
his past re-appears, and then his leadership and resolve are put to the
test as terrorists sneak aboard and threaten the lives of his crew.
Out of the
two stories, this one is the more visually interesting; its
set in space rather than on some obscure rocky planet like the second
film. There are lots of laser fire-fights and exterior scenes, and
generally more happening on the screen. As a way to introduce us to the
it likes to show off, with plenty of long, orbiting shots as spaceships
meet and dock together. During these moments you sense that its
tipping its hat to the biggest sci-fi epic of them all; 2001 a space
planet plays out like a futuristic re-telling of Romeo and Juliet. Our
protagonists Ion and Alena belong to two rival factions, who share an
awkward relationship as the twin custodians of a newly settled planet.
As tensions rise and eventually boil over into armed conflict, Ion is
infected with a strange fungal spore and sealed away. Throughout all of
this Ion and Alena turn to science, nature and each other to try to
avert an almost certain calamity.
still entertaining, the lacklustre scenery and slow pace make Symbiotic
planet the weaker of the two features. It doesnt
make the most of the impressive cel-shaded graphics- a bland grey
corridor is still a bland grey corridor, whether its
hand-drawn or rendered on a computer.
main special feature, director Fumihiko Sori speaks about the
inspiration for this project, as well as the difficulties in producing a
major science fiction film in Japan. There are also teasers for both
films, TV spots and trailers for upcoming releases.
choose either Japanese or English audio, youll
get a version which has been tailored so that the characters
mouths move in sync with the selected language. While the Japanese
version is faultless, the English doesnt
quite sync up in places- its
not terrible, but it is slightly off-putting.
is an anime with a little Arthur C Clarke running through its veins.
While the slow pace and distant characters may turn a few people off,
there are plenty of good ideas here. Lets
hope Sori can overcome some of those cultural obstacles and make a
live-action sci-fi epic one day!