Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
MSRP: $39.98 US
Running Time: 53 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now
Note to alien invaders: Do not mess with Japan.
I’m a real sucker for alien invasion movies although the majority of them have greatly disappointed me to the point that I would often go back to my favorite classic genre … the monster movie or old-school sci-fi classic. Then PLANZET comes along and mixes these two genres including my love for anime to make an animated feature film that could have been something even more amazing yet still has all the right elements of a good old-fashioned sci-fi monster film.
Oh, I’m a sucker for monster movies as well and the one here is more an entire race rather than just one Godzilla-like creature. You see, in PLANZET’s version of the year 2047 AD, a mysterious planetoid suddenly showed up on all satellites that orbit Earth. The planet was called Februus that carries alien life forms known to humans as the FOS that even more suddenly attack Earth. It’s a good thing that Earth had pushed an organization known as the IMDO to construct a fully functional colony on Mars known as the Esperanza (Spanish for “hope”).
Unfortunately, the FOS attack using their advanced technology and create a natural disaster by melting the polar icecaps that cause major flooding across the globe. On top of that, they set the remaining cities aflame and thus nearly wiping out the world’s population. What few humans are left form a unified government called the PDFA (of the Planetary Defense Force Alliance) to fight back using the latest in military hardware that comes in the form of armored mecha.
One of these PDFA soldiers is a young man named Hiroshi Akishima who only a few years before the FOS attack was merely a slacker with no real ambition thanks to the fact that he failed his entrance exam. His only family is his little sister, Koyomi, and his father who happened to have been a soldier. It isn’t until that fateful day that Hiroshi and Koyomi’s father is called back into active duty. He leaves them and never comes back as both siblings’ world is tossed into this new chaotic war and struggle for survival.
Just two years later, Hiroshi finds himself a member of the GL Service Test Squad for the Japan Area Army along with two other young companions named Lieutenant Takizawa and the attractive Sagawa. Working under the command of the sexy female Captain Yoshizawa, the squad operates inside a base within Mount Fuji. No longer the slacker kid he once was when we first met him, Hiroshi takes his duties as a member of the squad seriously.
Unfortunately, it is through Captain Yoshizawa that we find out that the East Russian Army failed their mission and was completely wiped out. It is now up to them to carry out a final offensive strike against the FOS. The plan is for the three squad members to buy the Captain some time in order for her to fire their latest weapon known as the D-Cannon that will be capable of reaching Februus and finally destroying it. Sure it might work but this sounds more like a suicide mission to all three of the squad members.
Knowing that he might not come back from said mission, Hiroshi contacts his sister he hasn’t seen for two years to meet with him in the one place they know well. Although still a child, Koyomi feels that her place is still by her brother’s side since he is the only family she has left. Even when Hiroshi tells her to catch a ship headed for the Esperanza colony on Mars, she makes a very different decision that drives home the point that even though the world might come to an end or what remains of humankind is finally obliterated from this planet, family is still important.
I won’t go into too much detail but the mission doesn’t go as expected and the result is Koyomi showing up to be by her brother’s side as a final contingency plan is introduced that could very well make the difference. PLANZET really gets exciting in the later half of this 53 minute movie as it showcases a big battle using the armored suits, an interesting confrontation in the end and a last push to save Earth using what was merely just a rumored weapon.
The problem I had with the movie is the fact that it’s running time of 53 minutes leaves very little room for character development especially when it comes to the secondary characters. Captain Yoshizawa, for instance, actually does come off as an intriguing character and I certainly wanted to know more about her besides the fact that she is trying to step out of her father’s shadow in the military. I mean, why is she so preoccupied with that when the world is about to end? Then again, I did find the reunion between Hiroshi and Koyomi powerfully emotional especially when they decide to work together in the end.
Then there’s the CG animation that is absolutely gorgeous to the point that the character models and backgrounds look realistic. Add the fantastic visual effects that make the action scenes versus the FOS a highlight.
PLANZET is far from a disappointment when it comes to the sci-fi genre although its short running time doesn’t give us much of a chance to get to know the characters better. That said, the movie manages to be appealing in that classic monster movie and old-school sci-fi sort of way and thus making this well worth watching. Definitely give this one a try if you’ve been disappointed by alien invasion flicks that lack emotion and substance.
BLU-RAY REVIEW BREAKDOWN
The year is 2053 and Earth has been attacked by alien invaders called the FOS that has destroyed major cities around the world and nearly wiping out all human life on the planet. Meanwhile, in Japan, a young man named Hiroshi joins two other squad mates into a final battle against the invaders as he fights to protect Earth and the only family he has left – his little sister named Koyomi.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
One of the more visually remarkable CG animated films out there, PLANZET is delicious eye candy that will not fail to impress. Everything from the characters to the backgrounds and the special effects are handled superbly throughout.
AUDIO QUALITY: A-
The music and sound effects by Shingo Terasawa make you want to crank up the volume especially if you have a good sound system connected to your HD screen. Then there’s the voice acting that has Mamoru Miyano stand out in the original Japanese language track. For the English dub side you cannot go wrong with Blake Shepard, Brittney Karbowski, Luci Christian and Tiffany Grant among others who make the dub shine. Even the theme song by Chitose Hajime is awesome.
You’ll find a few juicy extras that go beyond the few Sentai Filmworks trailers of the four Japanese trailers for the movie packed in one Blu-ray. Aside from the audio commentary track featuring Director Jun Awazu and voice actor Takeshi Maeda (that is worth a listen), you will find a feature called Side-by-Side Animatic Comparison that has Awazu explaining via split-screen the differences between the crude 3D modeling that is an Animatic versus the fleshed out animation that is the finished product.
There are also three different Interview featurettes that are worth watching especially the interview with Director Jun Awazu who offers insight on the making of this movie that took him two and a half years to complete. Add an interview with the really hot Mamoru Miyano (who voices Hiroshi in Japanese) and another one with Kaori Ishihara (who voices Koyomi) who reveals this is her first voice-acting gig.
Despite the fact that the running time played against the story, PLANZET is still a thrilling animated feature film that has the appeal of an old school monster movie and a far more exciting alien invasion flick. I wish we got to know the characters better but thanks to the amazing visuals and more than decent voice acting, PLANZET is definitely well worth watching.
Review copy provided by Sentai Filmworks