Martian Successor Nadesico: The Prince of Darkness
Three years after the events of the Nadesico TV series, the Jovian Lizards have settled down somewhat peacefully with Earth and boson jump technology has been progressing. During this period, Akito, Yurika, and Inez were involved in a plane disaster and are presumed dead. Hoshino Ruri, on the other hand, is now the commander of her own ship, and is sent to investigate mysterious attacks on colonies in Amaterasu. The devious plot she begins to uncover eventually blows out of her hands and will require the efforts of the old Nadesico crew once again to bring peace to the galaxy (*cough*). Will Ruri be able to mobilize everyone to handle this new threat? What has happened to Akito and Yurika? Why doesn't anything make sense here?
I'm psychic. You see, I know that most of you reading this review want to know 2 things :
1) Does this movie tie up the loose ends from the TV series?
Okay, so maybe I'm not psychic - only #2 is correct. But seriously, I feel that the series left some plot bits hanging at the end, and many people would have wanted this movie to provide some sort of conclusion to Nadesico. Unfortunately, it doesn't - we are instead left with something that *adds* to the confusion rather than clearing it up.
We start off with Ruri at the helm of the Nadesico B, with a new crew and a mission to investigate some suspicious attacks on Amaterasu colonies. Right from the start, the change from a comedic mood to that of a more serious one is quite obvious - Ruri is no longer her old sarcastic self, and some flashback scenes show how Akito and Yurika met untimely deaths while on a plane. As the story progresses, it is revealed that Akito is alive and there is a greater Malevolent Evil Force (tm) that threatens Earth once again.
Unfortunately, that's all that makes sense at the moment. The gap of three years is jarring enough, but then we stumble across more and more story elements that either don't make sense or have little relation to the first series. For example : we have sinister fellows looking like Malaysian paddy farmers that can boson jump and kill people. No one knows who they are and they pop in occasionally to kill people (sort of like your school guidance counselor), but you don't find out who they are until the end. And during the three year gap, Akito has changed from a bumbling and lovable character to a Matrix agent wannabe, with cool martial arts moves and perfect accuracy with a pistol (and not to mention an ATTITUDE). It's really difficult to comprehend this change, and I don't think you can either. Probably reminds you of the time you sat down in a roller coaster, only to find out that it's already left when it hits you from behind.
However, the story is redeemed when it begins to shift back to familiar material from the series. We get to see Ruri explore a bit of her past when she returns to her "home", and when Ruri recalls the original cast of the Nadesico, we are shown how they have progressed in their lives since leaving Nergal. Only then do we begin to see the old Nadesico humor return, like watching Izumi perform her usual guitar number in a bar (which is the best part of the whole movie).
As with most movies based on anime series, the budget is a lot better and thus the animation and art are a step up from the TV series. The action is well drawn and attention is paid to detail, like on the mecha or the buildings. The characters also managed to retain their look, and if you've watched Nadesico before you'll be able to spot them in no time. This is probably what you can expect from a theatrical feature, so bonus points for this category. While the soundtrack isn't outstanding, the ending theme sung by Matsuzawa Yumi is a slow jazz number and suits the overall mood quite well.
As the ending credits played on the screen, I sat there wondering what happened to the Nadesico that I knew and loved (somewhat). Ruri is no longer the lovable bundle of sarcasm that she was, and the old cast hardly appear enough to remind you that this is a Nadesico sequel. Even the story didn't tie up any loose ends from the series, choosing instead to play around with flashbacks and scattered plot elements.
Not surprisingly, I am reminded of Evangelion and how the rather weak ending was let down further by the subsequent movie (though some people might beg to differ). For Prince of Darkness, I guess we can look on the bright side - everyone doesn't die in the end.
Three stars. There's certainly a lot of effort put into this movie, and production quality is above average. Unfortunately it's let down by a confusing plot, and the fact that it doesn't end anything. Subtract a star if you don't like the change to a series mood. Me? I'm sticking to the *baka baka* of the original. — Enoch Lau
Recommended Audience: Only fans of Nadesico would be interested in this, but they will most probably be disappointed. Also for teens and up, since people get killed, and there's other violence.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Martian Successor Nadesico: The Prince of Darkness © 1998 Xebec / Nadesico Production Committee
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