Review by: Kiki Van De Kamp
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $49.98 US
Running Time: 288 minutes
Genre: Sci-fi / Action
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now
This is definitely not “Plan 9 from Outer Space.”
Much like Clive Owen’s charismatic grandfather, Grandpa Van De Kamp also reminisces about double features but longs for those old B-movie science fiction pictures and chapter-by-chapter serials that range from Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. In preparation for writing this review, I went through my grandfather’s collection and found a newfound respect for these now campy-yet-entertaining flicks. So when I finally got to see Project Earth SOS, The Complete Series, I found myself loving every minute of this anime series that tips its hat at the classic 1950’s B-movie sci-fi action of yesteryear.
Directed by the talented Tensai Okamura (“Cowboy Bebop: The Movie” and “Wolf’s Rain”), Project Earth SOS is a six-episode series that – while short – manages to cover an impressive plot involving Earth’s first contact with extraterrestrial life in an alternate reality version of America. It is the year 1995 and the Trickstar is completing its space mission when suddenly the shuttle is attacked by an unidentified flying object. Five years later in the year 2000, during the inauguration of a train that runs on a new technologically advanced engine called the G-Reaction engine; the train is whisked away by the same unidentified spacecrafts.
It just so happens that the train and other similar ships and aircrafts that run on the G-Reaction engine just so happens to be the brainchild of boy genius Billy Kimura. As he attempts to piece together the mystery behind the missing G-Reaction vehicles around the world with his friend – a little girl named Lotta Brest (who has a stunning female bodyguard named Emely) – a boy named Penny Carter shows up with his dog named Washington. Almost immediately, Billy and Penny begin a playful rivalry as the two boys discover that the military is involved in the investigation as well. With the aid of Captain Clayton, the boys find out that this might actually involve being from another planet.
As farfetched as that might sound, however, the boys are visited by the spectral vision of a young girl that tells them that the end of humankind is over. Almost at the same time, flying saucers suddenly appear over the Earth capitol of Metropolitan and begin an assault on the planet. Billy and Penny – aided with their friends Captain Clayton and Lotta join humanity in not only battling the space invaders but also dig deep into the mystery of these visitors from another planet. Why are they targeting G-Reaction vehicles? Who is that girl that keeps showing up with cryptic messages? Who is James, the pilot of an experimental aircraft that is capable of destroying the enemy saucers?
As the story progresses, we come to find out a lot about the characters including the fact that Lotta’s father is a famous scientist working alongside Billy’s father. We also come to learn Penny’s tragic past and why he tries to not only outshine Billy but also fight to protect humanity. In the middle of all of this, a mysterious man keeps showing up attempting to stop Billy and the others from learning the truth about the aliens the humans now call the Baguan. As the boy geniuses and their military friends manage to discover and destroy enemy bases on Earth, they find out a startling fact connected to the sudden disappearances of humans on Earth.
Meanwhile, Billy and the others try to thwart the Baguan invaders in another of ways that lead to disaster for a space rocket team and later with Billy’s father who sets out in a new kind of aircraft. The big piece of the mystery becomes clear to Billy and Penny when they look for a mad genius Professor only to discover that the Professor has been dead for a long time and his granddaughter bears a striking resemblance of the mysterious girl that keeps popping up.
The secret behind this mystery leads the others to venture out into space to finally put an end to the Baguan. I won’t spoil things by explaining any further but I’ll just say that the final two episodes will blow you away with a twist that you really won’t see coming when the truth about the aliens is finally revealed. Really, I don’t think even M. Night Shamalan (of “Sixth Sense” and “The Village” fame) couldn’t have thought of a better twist.
While there are a few weak plot elements along the way, it’s hard to ignore Project Blue Earth SOS’s biggest strengths. For starters, the alternate reality version of America is fascinating. There’s just something so cool about a modern America that seems to be stuck in the early 1950’s where there people listen to old radio programs and watch old film reels. There’s also something appealing about the campy elements such as bad guys firing ray guns, a sexy bodyguard driving a pink Cadillac complete with James Bond-styled gadgets and even mindless zombie drones ala “Plan 9 from Outer Space.”
Campy fun aside, there’s also a more thrilling and modern twist to the story that manages to slip through the 50’s B-movie elements. We actually do come to like Billy and Penny. Better yet, we actually do come to like Captain Clayton who follows these two kids out of faith. Not all the characters are well developed, though, because James – who was suppose to be the most intriguing character – ends up being pushed aside to make room for the rivalry between the two kids.
Golly gee, Project Blue Earth SOS, The Complete Series, is a real blast and one of the coolest sci-fi action anime that lovingly pays homage to a good old-fashioned ‘50s drive-in flick and gets away with it. With a cast of colorful characters and an intriguing narrative, there’s rarely a dull moment but I must say that what really makes this one shine is its style and, baby, this one has it in spades. If you’re looking for something different then give Project Earth SOS a try.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
In an alternate reality version of Earth, an alien invasion threatens to destroy humanity but mankind isn’t about to sit back and do nothing. Aided by two boy geniuses, a secret government agency, a military Captain and a fighter pilot that just can’t die, Earth is about to put up quite a fight. There’s a twist ending you won’t see coming as well.
VIDEO QUALITY: A
It’s hard not to take your eyes off the uniquely stylish backdrops and visual effects that blends ’50s era sci-fi appeal with a modern twist. This is some great animation that works beautifully for a series as interesting at this one.
AUDIO QUALITY: A-
The English dub voice acting does its best to sound like an old-fashioned radio drama complete with accents that sound straight out of the 1950s despite its technical jargon. Even the alien invader ray guns have that old sci-fi B-movie feel. The original score by Michiru Oshima is beautifully cinematic.
The only extras you can look forward to are a few trailers and the cleaning opening and closing songs, space cadet.
An exciting rollercoaster of a ride and a vintage-styled sci-fi romp, The Complete Series of Project Earth SOS is a deliciously campy and utterly satisfying series for fans of the genre. Complete with flying saucers, ray guns and boy geniuses, this series is way too fun to pass up if you like your sci-fi action wonderfully unique.