At CotBF, we have a predilection for late eighties and early nineties anime, not that we have what we have been reviewing them much lately, but you will see visual trends common between them and our review tonight. But for all of Cyber City Oedo’s and A.D. Police Files (why must I belittle myself by referencing early green criticisms) shared vision of a distraught and crime invested NeoTokyo (which ironically we also covered), there tends to be a level of underlining seriousness yet at times snarky outlook towards the eminent future. 2006’s Project Blue Earth SOS seems to sidestep this stark tone from an optimistic viewpoint, making it quite the interesting specimen.
Project Blue Earth SOS is directed by Tensai Okamura, creator of everythingDarker Then Black, be it the original two T.V. seasons, to the OVAs, to even the story for the manga adaptions. He also directed Metabots, and my favorite Memories segment, Stink Bomb, thus making the potential links to our past articles equal to four.
The series starts with a 1995 incident where-in grizzled Captain Clayton lost his best pilot, the charming James, during an Earth encompassing spaceship test. Five years have gone by since that day, and while I would love to say that this show is exclusively about Captain Clayton coming to grips after losing a subordinate and close friend, two boy geniuses do not allow me such luxury. Billy Kimura, the half Japanese half maybe white American boy genius and heir/employee to his father’s Kimura Industries’ huge enterprise, and Penny Carter the brilliant orphan boy whose success comes from intelligence Emely and the ability to solve complex problems. Did I mention that they both graduated top of their respective Universities, before most kids reach middle school? There you have it, with a show about boy genius right out the gate; you know something grandiose is going to happen.
See, Project Blue’s vision of the year 2000 is as if the world stopped entirely in 1945 and then advanced astronomically to jet packs and hover cars while only receiving all information and basic entertainment from the radio. Now you could say that the future world they live in, called Metropolitan, is a Science Fiction Fantasy, and to get on with this you would be right. During a press event which Billy is hosting for Kimura Industries to promote their latest subway line, an aurora like light appears and the subway disappears. Bemused by this tarnish to the company’s pride, Billy investigates with his close friend Lotta Brest and her instructor/ basically chauffer to get to the bottom of the latest in a slew of random vehicle disappearances. With Penny both behind and ahead of Billy, their rivalry will have to subside when their great future city will soon be at the mercy of the alien race Infabel; where in the only force strong enough to stop the Infabel is the top secret Labyrinth Alliance. With Lotta’s father Dr. Brest as head, Earth has nothing to worry about.
Project Blue not only implements its futuristic 40’s to the point of almost Western style aesthetics with its deep green and purple color scheme and sky filled with Infabel pod-like ships with circular beams, but this for the shows core plot as well. Each episode counts for six two-part sessions, and while each session will move the plot along, each one is centered on alien invader fears and plots. Over the course of this show the Infabel captures humans and sends them back as zombie bombers, tries to freeze the Planet at its poles, and even mind controls civilians through radio waves. Even the Kimura patented G-Reactor core that is in most of their devices is a mystery element X ploy that is not different from the spiritually similar to Giant Robo with its Shizuma Drive.Project Blue is a throwback to earlier Western Science Fiction not only visually but with the story plot as well.
Pros: A respectful homage to Science Fiction plots and elements before it, with enough serious drama to prevent it from being too over the top. Captain Clayton and James, who the opening reveals to not be dead, are two great guys who demonstrate the bond between adults as equals which is actually rather touching. The design and color choices are distinctive enough to warrant reuse in future shows that is if they keep it up like this one.
Cons: Some viewers will need to get over the idea that this is a show where Billy can just use his influence and intellect to buy a 100 foot tall sensor in the middle of some skyscraper in only the timeframe of a day or two; this show is the king of such absurdity and the fact that Penny and Billy are good at practically everything they set their young hands upon. Lotta’s sole purpose is to faint in each episode, so while she does try, the fainting tiny girl character just degrades on me. Even though it feels more like an OVA, the T.V. release in turn leaves certain episodes looking a little budget deficient in a way OVAs could get around with their extra production time.
Funimation has Project Blue for super cheap; even cheaper than the usual shows under the S.A.V.E. line. To note packaging just for this case, I promise buyers out there who have come to loathe the tacky S.A.V.E. spins on the reversible inner cover, reminiscent of what Geneon use to do, hides all shame with dramatic posing and color just like the show. This thing is suggested marathon material, so as to say it keeps a constant rate of motion once it gets started, that I thank for keeping up. I will suggest Project Blue not only because what it sets out to do, it does so well, but to give attention to anime that takes it influences from different sources.