Venus Wars – All of the Anime

April 13, 2024

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By Andrew Osmond.

The characteristic movie Venus Wars has a particular nostalgic cachet in Britain and America, not less than amongst followers who’re sufficiently old to recollect when Akira was a “new” factor. Following the discharge of Otomo’s movie, Venus Wars was among the many first batch of SF-action anime to be marketed as anime in these territories. In Britain, it was among the many first video releases from Manga Leisure, along with Mission A-Ko, Dominion Tank Police and Fist of the North Star. (You may see how all these titles had been run collectively as a “model” on this classic video trailer.)

Venus Wars has extra particular Akira comparisons. It’s a science-fiction action-adventure, for one. The primary story is about on a terraformed Mars, the place two nations are at warfare, and a number of other characters are pressured into combating when their metropolis is invaded. Lots of the protagonists are children on motorbikes – effectively, form of motorbikes, although they solely have single outsized wheels, making them technically motor-unicycles. As different pundits have identified, the focal hero teen – known as, er, Hiro – may very well be mistaken for Akira’s Kaneda in some pictures. That’s doubly true when he’s proven on a crimson bike.

Venus Wars was launched to Japanese cinemas in March 1989, lower than a 12 months after Akira, and it was a beneficiary of the nation’s bubble financial system of the time. As with Akira, you’ll be able to really feel its better price range within the wealthy textures and colors, and the sheer quantity of flying rubble and gushing smoke. Early on, there’s a chase scene worthy of Akira; it begins with Hiro struggling with cops, and builds up and up till he’s fleeing armoured autos over a rollercoaster of metallic piping and stairways.

Venus Wars might effectively have been influenced by Akira – if not by the then-recent film, then by Katsuhiro Otomo’s massively in style strip that had been operating since 1982. I famous in one other article how the Akira manga appears to be referenced within the TV collection Gundam ZZ, broadcast lengthy earlier than the Akira movie. However then Venus Wars additionally attracts on the traditions established within the first Gundam collection, all the way in which again in 1979. That’s hardly shocking, as Venus Wars’ creator is Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, who was Character Designer and Animation Director on that collection.

As in Gundam, Venus Wars is an SF journey that’s emphatically a human battle. There are not any alien invaders, and lots of the warfare photographs really feel uncomfortably near the actual information. All through its decades-long run, Gundam usually requested viewers to think about how you would really feel if your private home, your metropolis, was mercilessly bombarded in warfare. That’s how the primary Gundam began, with a navy assault on an area colony, proven by means of the eyes of school-aged children fleeing the carnage. Many later Gundam collection begin the identical approach – Gundam Seed, as an illustration.

Venus Wars is arguably extra “pulpy” than them, and but a few of the particulars can hit more durable. In spite of everything, a lot of the movie isn’t set not on an area colony however in what’s mainly a first-world metropolis, the place peculiar life is blown asunder, not by large robots however by shelling and tanks. The setting could also be a terraformed Mars, however it’s straightforward to challenge your self into the state of affairs, and by extension into the actual wars it brings to thoughts. For viewers watching the movie within the Nineteen Nineties, that may be Srebrenica in Bosnia, the place a Japanese critic as soon as discovered a mural of Akira’s scowling Kaneda. Thirty years on, you might consider the current horrors in Gaza.

If that appears like far an excessive amount of weight to place onto a tacky motion movie, then contemplate the scene the place Hiro rants angrily concerning the lies perpetrated by “his” authorities, whereas his naïve girlfriend covers her ears and says she doesn’t need to know. This can be embarrassingly sexist mansplaining, however the message continues to be plain; query the narratives unfold by the folks in energy (one other favorite theme in Gundam). True, the anti-authority second offers approach nearly instantly to a hilariously awkward scene of teenage need – and for as soon as, it’s the boy, not the lady, who’s in a state of undress.

Venus Wars was Yasuhiko’s third anime movie as director, following his earlier SF actioner, 1983’s Crusher Joe, and 1986’s Arion, a splendid transforming of Greek mythology. Each Arion and Venus Wars had been tailored by Yasuhiko from his personal manga strips, and so they had music by the identical composer, Joe Hisaishi. Sure, that Joe Hisaishi, who’s world-famous for his collaborations with Hayao Miyazaki. His Venus Wars rating right here can really feel aggressively Eighties in a approach that will make viewers love or detest it, however there’s extra to note in it. For instance, the plangent piano underneath the scene between Hiro and his girlfriend has Hisaishi’s wistful romanticism; it’s in the identical continuum as his work for Laputa and Robotic Carnival.

Lastly, Gundam followers ought to observe one other little hyperlink to that franchise. Lieutenant Kurtz, who finally turns into Hiro’s superior and rival within the movie, is voiced by Shuichi Ikeda. By the point that Venus Wars got here out, Ikeda was already well-known for enjoying one of the iconic figures in SF anime – Gundam’s Char.

Andrew Osmond is the writer of 100 Animated Options Movies. Venus Wars is launched within the UK by Anime Restricted.

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