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Nov. 6th, 2010 @ 04:38 pm Finished series: Arjuna
Current Mood: grumpygrumpy
We bought the DVD box of Arjuna recently, and just finished watching it. I mean: it's from Shoji Kawamori (inventor of transformable mecha and the mastermind behind things like Macross Plus and Escaflowne) and has Yoko Kanno in charge of music (which she also did for those two series, amongst others). And the theme music is sung by Maaya Sakamoto, so that's an added bonus. How could it be bad?

The thing is, the series isn't bad, but it is incredibly preachy. Most of it is pretty standard fare these days: don't pollute, don't over-consume, don't use pesticides, think about the source of your food. Perhaps it was less natural to think about these things ten years ago. But Kawamori goes off the deep end too, proposing things that I don't think could sustain us. For instance, heavily urbanised civilisations (and Japan is much worse than the Netherlands in that respect) can only be sustained by factory farming: other methods don't yield enough or create a logistical nightmare. I had to clench my teeth during some especially preachy exposition scenes. Also, genetic manipulation doesn't make ravenous monsters of otherwise benign organisms.

There is a plot, but it's pretty light and meanders a lot. You see, Juna is a normal highschool girl with a normal boyfriend. When they go on a spontaneous trip, they get into an accident and Juna dies. While floating around as a disembodies spirit, she meets Chris, who asks her to fight for him -- and in return he'll give her back her life. She agrees, and finds herself part of SEED, a world-spanning organisation that strives for a better ecological balance. She has to combat monsters called 'Raaja', who look like Dune's worms. They come out whenever there's pollution and destroy everything in their wake. Juna can turn into the 'Avatar of Time' and shoot her mystical bow to finish off the Raaja.
But first she is dumped in a forest, has to survive off the land, travels into her intestine, hates hamburgers, gets told about sex, has a friend who fancies her boyfriend and has to fight in an area where thoughts become reality. It's like the Raaja are merely an afterthought, because only the first and last episode feature big fights with Raaja. There's also some mystical stuff that's never explained, with telepathy, astral projections and chakra.

Visually, the series is pretty good: it makes use of CGI, but the character animation still has that hand-drawn charm. Not everything is of the same high quality, but that's partly because of the era when this was made: CGI and computers were still a big deal back then. The soundtrack is (as is to be expected) very good.

Good things:
- Looks good;
- Sounds good.
Bad things:
- Very preachy, without letting facts get in the way of a good sermon about ecology;
- Plot meanders a lot.

I'll give it a 6.5 -- would have been much higher without the irritating preaching.
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Date:November 6th, 2010 06:10 pm (UTC)
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The whole ecology preaching thing is why I can't stand Miyazaki's films. Not all of them are like that, but enough are, and the others are just bizarre (and preachy in a different way).
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Date:November 6th, 2010 06:31 pm (UTC)
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You know, it's not that bad in Miyazaki's movies. OK, it's part of the environment of the movie (so to speak), but it's not about the preaching -- if you strip out the ecological stuff, what's left would still be a movie in its own right. If you strip off that stuff from Arjuna, you'd have maybe two episodes left...
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