Monday, June 28, 2010

Venus Wars

Vinasu Senki; Animated science-fiction war drama, Japan, 1989; D: Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, S: Katsuhida Uekusa, Eriko Hara, Kaneto Shiozawa, Yuko Sasaki

In 2003, an ice comet struck Venus, cooling it off and creating oceans on the surface. Humans quickly seized the opportunity and started the colonization of the planet by 2018. In 2089, Venus' population is in the millions. Susan Sommers, a reporter from Earth, arrives to Venus to cover a story of a civil war between the Ishtar state on the north and Aphrodia on the south. When the Ishtar army starts an invasion and occupation of Io, the capital of Aphrodia, Susan is thrilled to have a story. She joins Hiro and his young gang of motorcycles to start a guerrilla resistance to Ishtar. In a duel, Ishtar's dictator Donner dies in a tank, forcing the forces to leave a now free Io. Hiro unites again with his girlfriend Maggy while Susan returns to Earth.

One of the many unknown cult anime films from the 80s, "Venus Wars" is a slightly lesser Venus version of the Mars anime "Armitage III", minus the android-racism subtext, yet it still dazzles the mind on some occasions, mostly with painstakingly detailed animation and an action spectacle. "Venus" runs on full speed in the first third when it depicts the refreshingly recognizable situation where a reporter, the blond Susan, travels to a war torn country to cover the story there - except that the place is actually the planet from the title, which adds it a nice twist. While watching TV in Io, the capital of Aphrodia state from the southern Hemisphere, the transmission is suddenly interrupted and it turns out that the northern state of Ishtar started an invasion. The sole event is virtuoso directed: tanks roll on the street, shell the buildings and cause a mass panic of people, except, ironically, for Susan who is overwhelmed, happy that she can film the whole event for her report. The switch from her to Hiro, a young motorcycle driver, being the main protagonist in the story as the leader of a resistance, is rather uneven, whereas some rightfully commented how the whole setting on Venus may have been completely unnecessary - there is not a single detail that shows what's the difference of living on that specific planet rather than on ours - yet the film is absolutely astonishing in showing the taste and feel of war: everything, from the occupation to psychological effects on the people, is palpable and handled in an almost documentary way. The action sequences may seem rather tiresome towards the end, yet at least two are examples of pure inspiration: the sequences where Hiro attacks a giant tank with a crane and the finale where a tank is shooting at him on the top of the runaway, causing it to collapse. Unassuming and compact, this is a qualitative piece of anime.


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