AWOL: Absent Without Leave
(From the Vol. 1 box cover)
For any work of storytelling art, be it a novel, movie, or television show (anime or otherwise), there is a basic prerequisite for its success: connection. Before a story can entertain its audience, it must establish some sort of connection with the audience. Most stories, even mediocre ones, have no problem doing this at all, as anything that excites, shocks, humors, or in any way intrigues its audience establishes connection. Nevertheless, this simple task appears to be the fatal flaw of AWOL, a series that quietly came and went about 10 years ago.
From the get go, the show is slow as molasses. Though the basic (if wholly unimpressive) sci-fi plot seems simple enough to be easily taken in, nothing in the tedious presentation compels me to do so. The events play out through a series of conveniently used still frames and sluggish pans, until the entire episode has simply glazed over my eyes. When the creators actually do have to animate the show, they do so poorly and negligently, with every design and background being completely prosaic. The "characters" seem more like pawns than real humans in this chronically bored saga, simply spouting dry lines and technical drivel in no particular direction as an equally blase score drones on and on. A hopelessly lackluster English voice cast that makes DMV workers seem like enthusiastic employees doesn't help matters.
The sci-fi world of the series is no more imaginative or interesting, as neither it nor its technology or machines appear to have been designed with any more care than the rest of the show. At the end of the first two episodes, AWOL fails to take me anywhere, as there is simply nothing that's worth connecting to. No matter how seriously it might take itself, AWOL doesn't put in the effort needed for anyone else to give a rip. I don't care what happens to the characters, to the extent there are even characters to care about, and the show doesn't look or sound nice in the least. When you think about it, what's the point?
A complete failure hopelessly lost in the depths of ennui, and unlikely to ever pull itself out. Add a star if you like your science fiction dry and tedious, but for the rest of us, don't waste your time pulling this one out of the vault. — Connor
Recommended Audience: The plot is centered around terrorism and sci-fi warfare, and thus invokes some violence and rather "intense" scenes (at least they were intended to be). Best for teenagers and up, though nobody should really have a reason to watch this anyway.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, English dub
Review Status: Partial (2/12)
AWOL: Absent Without Leave © 1997 et / BeSTACK / PROJECT AWOL
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