Dominion, Acts 1-4 (Manga Video, two tapes, 12.99 each)
This Island World release continues certain themes seen in predecessors, ‘Akira’ and ‘Fist of the North Star’. All three are set in the future, following some sort of global catastrophe, and contain healthy helpings of mayhem in one for or another. ‘Dominion’ probably has more in common with ‘Akira’ than ‘Fist’, sharing it’s urban setting and dark-edge SF style.
Though despite taking place in a world where pollution is so bad that face-masks are vital, ‘Dominion’ is pure entertainment with few pretensions. Destruction of property, black humour and sex are key features, but it could hardly be played any other way when the police drive tanks, would like to get tactical nukes, and are chasing a trio of criminals consisting of a half-cyborg and a pair of bioengineered cat-bimbos known as the Puma Twins – who in turn are after a batch of urine samples from humans unaffected by the hyper-icky atmosphere.
The tapes are dubbed, rather than subtitled, but it’s very well done and 95% of the time you could hardly tell they weren’t made in English. However, Island World also replaced the music, and the new soundtrack isn’t really suitable, notably during the Puma Twins diversionary strip-show, and is wimpy to the point of being annoying. [This contrasts with their version of ‘Project A-ko’, where the music was untouched, but the dubbing left a lot to be desired, the three lead characters sounding almost the same. It gets a C, a serious markdown from the A- given to the subbed ‘A-ko’ in TC12. What a difference a dub makes…].
The second tape is overall slower in pace, albeit only compared to the frenetic pace of the first half, and mostly deals with how cyborg Buaku has to team up with police gal Leoni for their mutual survival. Naturally, there’s the obligatory grand finale, which does perhaps leave a few too many loose ends unexplained. However, in the final analysis, both tapes provided me with an entirely acceptable, thoroughly enjoyable, hour of entertainment and are probably the best anime release yet. B+
Odin (Manga Video, 12.99)
The anime fan network is pretty sharp at picking up on good films. Word of mouth ensures that any decent anime will usually rapidly appear in Britain – for example, copies of the ‘Silent Mobius’ movie appeared here about two weeks after it’s Japanese video release. Given this, it says a lot about ‘Odin’ that, despite it being seven years old, I could find no-one who’d ever seen it before Island World released it.
But maybe ‘Odin’ was an undiscovered classic, a gem that fandom had somehow missed. Well, to quote the great philosophers, Wayne and Garth, “NOT!”. ‘Odin’ gets my vote as the worst anime yet inflicted on us – even ‘Fist of the North Star’, while shoddily dubbed and poorly animated, at least had a gleefully enthusiastic eye for splatter. ‘Odin’ lacks even that, being a tired space opera which looks perhaps ten years older than it is, and it was past its sell-by date to start with.
It starts off on the wrong foot with some dodgy pseudo-scientific waffle about starships powered by light, and rapidly goes downhill when we meet the characters, who all possess Japanese names, but have strong American accents. The storyline singularly failed to capture my interest; the first attempt, I fell asleep after 19 minutes, and even after a rerun, I can’t remember much about it. Read the box, if you must – TC has better things to do with the column inches!
It’s nice to see Island World demonstrating the breadth of anime. Like films or television, it runs from the excellent to the very poor, and the only possible reason I can think of why they released ‘Odin’ was as an example of the latter. Avoid, most definitely. E-