Reviewby Michelle Yu, Jan 13th 2008
Innocent Venus V1
In 2010 A.D. a mass of ultra-violent storms ravaged the planet, and over 60 percent of the world's population was wiped out in an instant. Now, what remains of life on Earth is a broken and barren existence. But in Japan there is an exception. Here, the wealthy rule. They own the war machines. They suppress the masses. And they have a very dark secret. Caught in the middle of this conspiracy is an innocent child- a girl, codenamed Venus. The military has her in their crosshairs, but the rebels are determined to protect her. What is her purpose? What are her powers? Can she offer a new hope for a world so drastically changed?
Production Company: Bandai Visual
The year 2010 is a time not that far in the future. But imagine the Earth containing over 8 billion people, 5 billion of which will be wiped out instantly due to a freak natural disaster. North America, Northern Europe and Russia will become ice-bound and the rest of us will be unable to do nothing except watch as the world's economic and military balance falls into chaos.
This situation is the 2010 that Innocent Venus: Cruel World Order shows us. As usual, it is very Japan-centric and the ordeal is described nicely by the name of the first episode- "Hell." After the world was swept up in a natural disaster referred to as "hyper-hurricanes", poverty becomes abundant in Japan and the slums that spring up give birth to the region Revinus. However, Japan is also home to an area called Logos, where people live comfortably and the ruling class exploit the advanced mecha technology and put it to military use.
"Hell" shows the events out to be a cross between a return of the Berlin Wall incident and World War II. The ruling class pays little attention to the cry for basic human rights from the citizens of Revinus. During a verbal demonstration the audience gets to watch as an innocent (albeit poor) bystander gets his nose broken by a soldier who was too stubborn to get the facts right. Whilst Revinus has barely enough rations for its citizens, Logos prospers and literally glows in an eerie, artificial aura.
One of the series' protagonists is Joe- a quiet and at first, seemingly emotionless young man that sees beyond the lights and glamour of Logos, metaphorically describing the citizens as smelling like "rotting guts." Joe, along with his old comrade Jin (who is openly kind, and unafraid of cracking a smile) have entrusted themselves with protecting a young, pink-haired girl named Sana. Codenamed "Venus" by the Japanese military, she supposedly holds hope for the oppressed in Japan and knows something about the conspiracies among the ruling class.
The series follows the plight of Jin, Joe and Sana as they try to escape the claws of the military. For some reason, a restless and obnoxious boy named Gora continues to follow them around. Although street-wise, a child like that must have better things to do right? But it's not just Gora. I felt Sana to be quite annoying as a character as well. Beyond the unoriginal physical appearance, (notice the similarity between her and the main character of the anime series Elfen Lied) her damsel-in-distress behaviour gets old pretty fast. It seems that she has had a very sheltered life (most likely under military care) as seen in the third episode "Pirates" when she makes a huge fuss as the group travels along the coast while on the run from the military.
Innocent Venus is action-packed right form the beginning and tastefully gory. Select scenes involving mecha boast seamless integration of computer graphics alongside the standard animation. Also, fan service is kept to a minimum. You would have to be a bit more observant than usual to pick any up, which shows that the creators were not trying to do too much at once. They may have sounded crazy by involving pirates, but Innocent Venus is written well with a solid back-story (rather than just cashing in on the recent pirates craze.) The soundtrack is nothing special, however the ending theme "Brand New Reason" performed by FLEET is worth a mention with it's Coldplay-like sound.
Overall I must say that Volume One of Innocent Venus: Cruel World Order has been one of the most satisfying first few episodes of a series I have seen for a while. It is a great choice for those seeking something a bit more realistic, but still in the anime category. Volume One also includes extras- a clean version of both the opening and ending theme, which is useful for anyone who likes to put together anime music videos or the like. Not to mention a reversible DVD cover, which is actually the same on both sides so it's not that exciting (it's missing the massive ratings sticker -Observant Ed!). But, it would be useful if an obnoxious younger sibling happens to somehow deface one side of the cover.
Innocent Venus satisfies the history buff in everyone with the Berlin Wall and World War II-like alternate universe. Traces of 19th Century Japan can also be found for those who are partial to modern Asian history. Looking deeper at this series, regardless of the action and drama, I cannot help but chuckle at some of the irony that has been slipped in (intentional or not is unknown). I suppose the irony will be an in-joke for those of us who are more aware of the world. For everyone else, they are left with bucket-loads of action, a healthy drizzle of blood and a captivating storyline. Not bad at all.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : A
Story : A
Animation : A
Art : B+
Music : C+
+ Beautiful animation and excellent action and mecha scenes.
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