Expelled From Paradise
On the Earth-orbiting satellite Deva, human beings exist in post-human form, as wholly digital presences enjoying various virtual-reality existences. When a hacker calling himself Frontier Setter starts broadcasting appeals to the inhabitants of Deva to join his exploratory mission into space, security agent Angela Balzac is given a physical body and a mission to go to the desolate surface of Earth to shut down the troublemaker's broadcasts. Joining an "old-fashioned" Earthman (with the unfortunate moniker of "Dingo"), Angela discovers unexpected things about the mortal existence of human beings on Earth, and some unpleasant truths about her familiar world of Deva as well.
OK, let's get the stuff you might hate out of the way first. We DO have shameless pandering to the male otaku in Angela's character design, which of course means that she's got enormous breasts, stuffed, along with the rest of her, into a skintight bodysuit- and the show ups the ante by later having other Deva security personnel descend on Earth of exactly the same gender and physiques. Apparently men, or even women below Double-D cup size, are considered unsuitable for Deva "away" missions.
Many will probably also take an instant dislike to Angela's character because she's voiced by Rie Kugimiya. Now personally I've never really hated Rie as a voice actress. Most people like her Toko in Maria Watches Over Us, and as for myself I really liked her Maya in Burn Up Scramble, the series which was, in my opinion, the best iteration by far of the Burn Up! franchise. (Sadly long out of release, or I'd certainly like to review it.) It's the fact that Rie so often takes tsundere roles that really seems to annoy people, but Angela is a fairly complex character- sometimes petulant, and initially assuming an air of superiority over Earth's old-fashioned mortals, but over time she becomes increasingly ambivalent, and vulnerable, as her real knowledge of both Earth's and Deva's societies starts to expand.
I think Rie carries her part well enough here. I'm more troubled by the show's "kitchen sink" approach. In addition to the fanservice pandering, they throw in mecha, monsters, elaborate CG (but I liked the CG!), and even a "singing cowboy" (complete with six-shooter) in Dingo, though his songs are of a bit more modern style than those of Gene Autry or Roy Rogers. (Ask Grampa who those people were, if you want an explanation that could take hours.) I'm a little embarrassed by that name "Dingo" (he really should be too), so I think I'll just call him Mr. D for the rest of the review. My feeling is that if the show had jettisoned a lot of the extraneous fluff and focused on the good concepts in its plot, I could have gone at least another star on it.
So what are those good points? For one, the show does want to undertake some serious consideration of the merits of Angela's versus Mr. D's mode of existence. This is mostly in dialogue though, and to the extent that we actually see Angela dealing with the exigencies of being flesh-and-blood, they're mostly negative experiences (fatigue, illness, etc.) I would have liked to have actually seen her experiencing more of the joys of mortality. (Though I confess I would have been amused to have seen Mr. D instructing Angela on some other tasks doubtless unfamiliar to her, such as going to the bathroom.) The show mostly violates the show-me-don't-tell-me rule, which is unfortunate, but its heart seems in the right place anyway.
Another thing that did catch my interest was the show's willingness to at least attempt surprising the audience. Frontier Setter, when we finally meet him, turns out to be rather different than expected. Angela, at a later point, expects certain parties to take a certain action that would be both logical and compassionate, and is rightly horrified at the actual outcome. (In that case the audience may well have seen it coming, though.) I really expected that our main protagonists, and certainly Angela, would make different choices in the end than they actually made (though perhaps I'm just projecting my own feelings onto the characters.) For me, the depth and strength of some of the ideas the show wants to take on, even if not fully realized- and the show's attempts to surprise, even if not always fully successful- often outweigh its frequent silliness and otaku-baiting.
I thought the show had other interestingly imaginative little touches, one of my favorites being the way Angela's superiors are depicted- and the way Angela gets depicted at one point near the end, when she's journeying through Deva's computer. I can't say another word about any of this, though.
I had some fun with this, and fun is always worth at least 3 stars. It could have been better, but it's NOT Rie's fault. REALLY! — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Angela's walking fanservice of course. I think that during parts of the sequences where she's journeying through the computer as a kind of digital packet, she's actually nude- not graphically, just outline style. Netflix says MA-14; I'm good with that.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Netflix.
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Expelled From Paradise © 2014 Toei/Nitroplus
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