Mighty Space Miners
In the mid-21st century, mankind has begun the exploration of space, and one company, Planet Catcher Corporation, has pioneered capturing asteroids and comets to mine the resources within them for use on Earth. On one such asteroid, Tortatis, lives 12-year-old Nanbu Ushiwaka - the only child ever to be born in space and survive.
But survival itself is no longer guaranteed - a military satellite triggers a disaster during a operation to capture Halley's Comet, and Ushiwaka and his fellow colonists must find a way to survive when both their country and their company abandon them. Can they escape before the nuclear reactor on the asteroid melts down? Or are they doomed to die as they lived, among the stars?
Despite its really hokey English title, Mighty Space Miners is actually a very well-done piece of animation, with a decent storyline, and a nice little tribute to a frontier spirit that seems to have been put on hold in recent history...the spirit of the exploration of space and what lies beyond Earth.
Ushiwaka himself is your brash, do-anything kid that insists on taking the test to become an adult, even when disaster strikes. (If his Japanese voice reminds you of Ranma, that's because it's the same voice actor. Ironically, the female rival he's paired up with is Akane's seiyuu. Probably not a coincidence...)
Characterization is fine - most everyone is pretty normal, as the scientists and pilots act intelligently and resourcefully, with no real antagonists in the wake of impending disaster. And even if a few characters seem to sprout hair reminiscent of Devil Hunter Yohko's grandmother (say, Ushiwaka himself does look like her!), designs are fairly realistic (not a pink strand of hair to be seen) as this lies well within the realm of "realistic" science fiction. In fact, there were numerous scientific details that were actually well-done, like dealing with the zero-gravity environment, and nothing seemed incredibly far-fetched, besides, of course, what you'd *expect* (high action sequences) which even then didn't seem to have gaping lapses of logic. Well, not too many, anyway - some of the action sequences readily stretch space physics a bit. And music is pretty decent, though the translated lyrics of the opening theme ("I Am a Space Miner", no less) leave something to be desired as a singable song.
The star of this OAV series, though, is the detail in this animation, with the aspect of space travel in the next century meticulously looked over. (Like, for example, using thrusters to *stop* a spacecraft, which is something many sci-fi series seem to forget about.) The animation itself shines, and many scenes look like what real asteroid colonies in the next century would be like.
The sad thing about this series is that, with is tremendous potential, it's left hanging just when the storyline gets really good. You get the feeling it didn't really do all that well in sales (with a title like that, I'm not surprised) and therefore it was left out to dry. And well, it becomes just another series begging for closure, if a good one. Still, for an unsung little treat in the animation world, I do recommend Mighty Space Miners, as it's a nice little way to spend an hour. Entertaining and actually pretty thoughtful, it's just a pity this unexpected treat is so short.
Just as it's getting good, it stops with a screeching halt. There's tantalizing potential here, but it's left dismayingly untapped. Argh. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: Some brief nudity on the part of Ushiwaka near the beginning, and some violence (yes, a space disaster can be violent! surprise!) limit this one to younger teens and above, but all in all there's nothing incredibly offensive or exceptionally bad to speak of.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (2/2)
Mighty Space Miners © 1994 KSS Films
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