Science fiction and anime go together like grandmas and bingo. Some of the best shows use sci-fi as a theme (at least in my opinion) and in the case of Project Blue Earth SOS, it wears the sci-fi moniker like a badge of honor. FUNimation's repackaging of this former ADV title prominently displays "Aliens Attack!" on the cover in a classic 1950's sci-fi font. From that design choice and the description on the back, you simply know that you're getting into a campy fun kind of science fiction show that is reminiscent of part of the genre as a whole from a time gone by.
Project Blue Earth SOS is a modern recapturing of a classically theme science fiction tale. It has many design references to science fiction shows and movies of the 50's and even the plot has more than a few familiar tricks up it sleeves. Does that mean Project Blue Earth SOS is cliché? Yes, a little. But it's also ridiculously fun and has received some stellar production values so all around I'd say it's a win-win.
In case you're unfamiliar with the show, Project Blue Earth SOS was originally released in Japan in 2006. The series ran for six, 45 minute episodes and came from the mind of director Tensai Okamura (Wolf's Rain). It's quite evident that Tensai held a love for everything science fiction because this series pays some serious homage to the genre as a whole. Everything but the kitchen sinks is thrown in here and when our protagonists aren't getting shot at by ray guns, they are fighting zombie hordes, tentacled alien things, invasion fleets, and even an alien-induced ice age. From start to finish this series is so over the top and you need to have a real affection for the sci-fi genre in order to appreciate what's going on. Its tone and focus feels like it could easily slip at any point, and though it teeters on that edge throughout the show, it's up to the viewer to decide whether or not they crossed the line. Personally, I think Tensai and company played it perfectly.
The show starts out in 1995 and depicts a military/NASA-like test of a new engine entitled the G-Reactor. What exactly this is isn't explained, but then again I suppose it doesn't have to be. All you need to know as a viewer is that it exceeds travel speeds we are currently capable of. It's also important to note that this is an alternate world where technology is very different. Aside from this G-Reactor there are little touches here and there with advanced technology, but for the most part everything is kind of retro with a 1950's design. Even the alien ships, which we see momentarily after the test flight of the G-Reactor plane, are traditional, pod-like saucers that shoot circular beams of light, but I digress. The test flight in 1995 is shot down by aliens and it's pilot, James, is thought to be killed in action.
From this point the show fast-forwards to the year 2000, where we meet a young boy named Billy Kimura who is the heir to the G-Reactor empire. He's a genius and is a chip off the old block, so it's not unnatural to see him at the unveiling of a new train system that utilizes his company's technology. Joining him is his good friend, Lotta Brest (yes, yes I know), who is the daughter of an old colleague who went missing quite some time ago. Soon enough another boy-genius named Penny Carter shows up with his dog Washington, and once the whole gang has arrived a series of rainbow lights appear and the train lifts off the ground only to vanish a moment later.
The disappearing train prompts both Penny and Billy to investigate, which leads them to face a strange, alien-looking girl with red eyes. The show really takes off at this point and brings the cast from one alien attack to another. As they search for clues about the appearance of these beings they get closer to the truth, and soon enough they discover that Lotta's father, Dr. Brest, is still alive and kicking along with James. They are fighting for the survival of the human race and have pushed G-Reactor technology to the next level by introducing a series of weapons that prove devastating against the alien hordes.
Each episode of the Project Blue Earth SOS throws a new kind of danger at the kids and other cast members. Whether it's an armada of alien ships, abductions, guys with ray guns that can disintegrate humans on contact, an alien-induced ice age, alien controlled zombie hordes, or terrorist bombers, there just seems to be no way the human race will survive this onslaught. Even though there is so much shoehorned into a mere six episode, the show never feels overbearing. Instead it's a briskly paced affair that offers slight amounts of respite from time to time and your given snippets of plot on the fly.
Project Blue Earth SOS is most definitely not for everyone. If you don't have an affinity for the science fiction genre and you don't appreciate retro design or ideals, then a lot of what happens here may be lost on you. However, if you hold a place in your heart for men from mars with disintegrating laser pistols, you'll definitely want to give this one a whirl. It's clear that this anime shows Tensai's love affair with everything the sci-fi genre has to offer, and if you share even an ounce of his passion you'll enjoy it thoroughly.
Project Blue Earth SOS hits DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. The show is gorgeous from start to finish with crisp colors, sharp lines, and an image that is rarely marred by grain and compression. These high production values definitely help with regards to the show's design elements. One thing you'll take away from this series is how gorgeous the art direction was. Everything from the character models to backgrounds and technology comes to life in ways that other shows only wish they could. Ultimately Project Blue Earth SOS is a fantastic looking show that maintains a level of quality beyond what its six episode budget would typically allow.
Likewise the 5.1 surround sound presentation for both the English and Japanese language dubs maintain a solid level of quality. With plenty of action being the center of attention in this series the rear channels pick up quite a bit of noise. The sense of immersion turns out to be better than we see from most shows, though I must say that the dialogue doesn't quite have the same impact as the sound effects. Even so the presentation quality is pretty darned good and very clean. As far as the dubs are concerned, I felt the Japanese language track was the better of the two, but the English one churns out some solid performances as well.
Some trailers and textless animations are all you're going to find here for bonus features.
Project Blue Earth SOS is one of the most brazen sci-fi shows I have ever watched. It pulls together almost all of the genre clichés from 50's era science fiction and wraps them up in one kinetic little package. Tensai Okamura's direction of the show brings all of these elements together perfectly. Project Blue Earth SOS never takes itself too seriously, is never off-putting, and keeps each of the six episodes moving at a brisk pace. It's certainly not for everyone, and it leans more towards lovers of sci-fi for a viewing audience, but ultimately I'd say this one is strongly recommended.
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