The Venus Wars

Based on the manga by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, The Venus Wars is a fairly average sci-fi anime with a healthy dose of wartime action. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this title, as it looked less than promising. But despite the cliched premise it still proved to be fairly entertaining. Many years in the future, the hostile world of Venus has been tamed by humankind. Now, two factions exist on the planet, Ishtar and Aphordia. Tensions between the two sides soon escalates into full scale war. Meanwhile, young Hiro and his friends get caught up in a conflict they can barely understand, but one in which they must survive. The story centers around a group of youths involved in racing these single-wheel mechanical contraptions. However, war soon breaks and they are suddenly forced to deal with the harsh realities of survival. Truthfully, I didn't really care much for the characters themselves. They were developed decently, but aside from their basic personality traits, they weren't terribly interesting. Even Hiro the hero (ha ha, get it?) was a little flat. What I really liked, though, was the feeling of war that I got from this movie. The grim 'n gritty world of Venus is captured beautifully through the depictions of the city. Battles were staged in semi-realistic fashion, with shells and machine gun fire depicted quite well and accompanied by some pretty good sound effects. The war machines had nice conceptual designs as well, although some of them did behave like they were built out of rubber. On the whole, the action element was well done. The story line also suffers somewhat from a shift in direction about half-way through. After Hiro and his group join up with a resistance movement, the plot shifts from a tale of wartime survival to one of heroic resistance and sacrifice. I felt this change, along with the addition of a handful of new characters, upset the mood that Venus Wars had generated. The background artwork had an appropriately gritty look to it, although the planet did look more like Mars than Venus. The character art was fairly standard for anime fare and the animation was functional. The only thing marring the visual presentation was a truly laughable attempt at superimposing animation over live footage. The result was anything but eye-pleasing. I found the English voice-acting fairly average on the whole. It was passable, but not terribly engrossing. If you're looking for a decent wartime sci-fi flick you could probably do a lot worse. The Venus Wars proves to be fairly entertaining with a healthy dose of action and gritty feel. And in the end, that's all that matters. The Verdict: * * * 1/2 (above average)

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