Starring Hiroshi Suzuki, Mari Okamoto, Minori Matsushima, Junpei Takiguchi, Chiako Ohtsuka, Ryoko Kinomiya, Kousei Tomita
Directed by Hisashi Sakaguchi
I’ve been having a blast with these Tezuka films, so I’m a little sad that this is the last one on my list. Hopefully more will become available someday. I’m also a little disappointed with this one because it doesn’t quite live up to the fun of the previous two.
The humor takes a back seat this time, so it didn’t leave as strong an impression as the others did. I think what really took me out of it was the obvious nature to its moral. It hammers home the anti-war, anti-pollution message a little too hard for me. Maybe that’s just a personal problem, but the same themes had already been addressed in Bander Book and Marine Express without losing any of the fun and charm. If you’re a fan of movies with a message, then you won’t find much to fault here, but I prefer it when the moral of the tale is not applied with a sledgehammer.
This isn’t to say that the film is bad by any stretch. It still sets up an intriguing premise and carries the plot along with ample new developments to keep things from getting stale. In fact, judging by the plot structure, the narrative arc is every bit as solid and gripping as the others, perhaps more so. It just felt like the whole time it was telling me, “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.”
So now that I’ve finished my griping, what is this movie actually about? It’s a pretty straightforward allegory of the Cold War, but also ties it into environmentalism as nations exhaust the world’s resources in an attempt to outgun each other in the name of self defense. On one island, a once lush tropical paradise turned into a toxic wasteland from constant warfare, a biologist stumbles upon a new creature that has never been seen before. The biologist does what any good movie scientist would do in this situation: he knocks the creature unconscious and takes it back home for further study.
I wish the film took this concept a bit further. I was expecting it to parallel the conflict between new and old humans to the arms race already going on between the other nations in the film. But as with all these Tezuka films, it threw me a curveball and complicated the situation with a completely new problem. A nearby star went nova, and it shot a huge black cloud towards Earth that can’t be any good for anybody. The new humans are trying to figure out what to do about it while the rest of the world continues its wars. Only now the new humans have been discovered, so everything gets tangled into a web of conflicts.
As before US and Canada residents can look for this in the 24 Hour TV Specials section on Anime Sols.