Reviewby Bamboo Dong, Feb 16th 2003
DVD 2: Journey
Arjuna returns with Tokio to the city where she must now cope with the impurities of urban life. Suddenly, she and Tokio contract a fatal disease that only she can drive back. Also, Chris is on the verge of dying. Can Arjuna save everyone while learning the true meaning of her mission?
Possessing one of the most unique storylines seen in anime, Arjuna continues to intrigue viewers in the second volume of the series. Presented with four episodes on one disc, Bandai does an amazing job with this release. Although the content is listed with a 100 minute run time, the actual length of each episode goes well beyond the stated 25-minute time slot. At the end of each episode, there is a lengthy epilogue of extra footage that fits in somewhere in the middle of each story, serving as a very insightful aside into the series. In addition to these extended scenes, Bandai also provided viewers with a large vault of extras to play with. Among these are the previews that come after each episode. While it's odd that Bandai threw these in the extras section rather than in their original place, it somewhat makes sense. The previews are very random and light-hearted in nature and contrast harshly with the atmosphere of the scenes and interrupt the flow with the series, making their action more one of consideration than anything else. There is also an interview with Shoji Kawamori, the creator of Arjuna, which is entertaining to watch, especially for the outside anecdotes that he tells. One of the most useful extras, however, is the Arjuna Dictionary. This provides explainations of a few key terms used in the series, such as plot-specific names and scientific terminology. This is especially helpful to viewers who are unfamiliar with some of the scientific processes and phrases used.
While the first volume seemed obsessed with the ills of pollution and human-created waste, the second volume take it upon itself to preach about the evils of preservatives, pesticides, and genetically engineered food. This excessive lecturing and environmental sermonizing gets a bit tedious after awhile, but luckily there are other aspects of the story to keep the series afloat. This series is captivating in its philosophical plot and also its sheer uniqueness. However, there are many contradictions in the series that don't seem to make any sense. For instance, Chris gives Arjuna an archery bow and tells her to fight and protect the Earth from the Raaja. A few episodes later, he insists that she protect these same Raaja while asking her constantly why she fights and why she kills. This contradiction is masked by the accusation that she misinterprets his words and that she does not yet understand her duties. At the same time, it makes no logical sense as to why she was given the bow in the first place if she was to practice methods of non-violence. There are other inconsistencies within the story, but for the most part, the story is intriguing and prompts viewers to wait for the next release. Interestingly, one of the best parts about each episode is the epilogue which delves into the philosophical insights that sprinkle the series.
Undoubtedly one of the best characteristics of the series is its art and animation. Arjuna combines two-dimensional cel work with computer rendered graphics, as well as live-action photography and videos. This gives the nature scenes more impact and contributes to the ethereal visual beauty that surrounds the series. Even with the indiscreet mix of artistic mediums, the various art forms are able to blend with one another extremely well. The transitions are very natural and hardly noticeable, which enables the viewer to watch the series without distraction. The animation is also nicely done, with fluid cel movements and solid changeovers between the various artistic venues.
The music for the series matches with the pensive mood of the series very well. Comprised of almost eerie chanting and quiet ensembles, the music adds to the confusing flavor of the series, as well as the altogether soul-searching element that surrounds Arjuna. In place of an opening theme, it varies between a recap of the previous episode and introductory information for the upcoming episode. This is slightly annoying, as viewers never know when they can safely skip to the next chapter or not. The ending theme is changed near the end of this volume and is as pretty as the first one.
The voice acting for the series, both in Japanese and in English, is rather well done. The Japanese voice actors do a great job voicing the thoughtful and often times confused thoughts of the characters. There are times when some of the side characters speak in a drab monotone, but for the most part, the roles are played convincingly. The English dub is also delivered well, but the voices seem almost patronizing at times. With the exception of a few of the characters, all of the people sound like they are performing for a children's show. The acting is still commendable, but this air of patronage sometimes distracts from the general angst that Juna surrounds herself with. Notable also is the English script, which was translated faithfully in accordance to the original Japanese dialogue, as per Bandai tradition.
Arjuna is a beautiful series that will captivate many viewers. While the story is often riddled with contradictions and confusing inconsistencies, the element of wonder and suspense more than makes up for it. If anything, the gorgeous art and animation will be enough to convince many viewers to give this series a shot. Even though the anti-food preservative tirade is wearisome and gets exceedingly old very fast, the other aspects of the series cancel out these negative traits and make Arjuna a very pleasing package indeed.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : C
Animation : A
Art : A
Music : B
+ Absolutely gorgeous artwork
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