Reviewby Carl Kimlinger,
Wings of Rean
The Boots of Rean have sent the entire Hojo army to Earth on the Aura Road, but the two who instigated the move—Aesap and King Sakomizu—are separated from the main force and find themselves dumped right into the middle of World War II. From there the two end up hopping through time, witnessing important events in their own lives. While they make their way back, the Hojo forces find themselves part of a scheme by an American naval fleet to declare itself an autonomous nation. Confused and divided by the break in the chain of command left by the missing Sakomizu, the Hojo fleet does the only thing any self-respecting otherworldly visitor can: it blows up Tokyo. The return of the two holy warriors may be the only hope for a return to sanity, but they may not be enough, especially when the American fleet's nuclear arsenal gets into the wrong hands. Boom!
Trying to do several different things with a show isn't inherently bad. It just requires skillful organization, otherwise, like a person whose legs are trying desperately to go in opposite directions, it'll tear itself from crotch to brisket and fall into an insensible jumble on the floor. That said, that this climactic volume of Rean feels less like it's self-destructing into a confusing mess of plot points is less a matter of it organizing its disparate elements than it is of one leg pulling so hard that it drags the others along with it.
The name of that leg is action. Massive, Tokyo-trashing, fiery destruction. The intricacies of the politicking behind the fighting may escape us, thrown out into the maelstrom of events without the slightest attempt to make them comprehensible, and the motivations and actions of character may be unclear (and at times illogical and contradictory), but that will hardly matter to fans of catastrophic violence once the fireballs start blowing buildings in half. The political wrangling, the Byston Well mythology, and the Lyukus/Aesap romance are still in place but are so underwhelming that this may as well be fifty minutes of unadulterated battle. Airplanes are sliced in half, Aura Battlers bleed, ships are carved up, Tokyo burns, and (bet you didn't see this coming) Tokyo Tower gets the chop. Without the aims and motivations of the different sides clearly delineated it's hard to care who wins or loses or lives or dies, but it never lacks for spectacle and is at times—almost in spite of itself—kind of exciting. Yoshiyuki Tomino is a veteran at blowing crap up, and non-stop fighting exploits the strengths of both the series itself (i.e. its animation budget) and Tomino as a director. His skill at stand-alone images is brought to the forefront, and amidst the inherent chaos of war it's far less problematic that they don't have any lasting effect. These two episodes feature such doozies as the aforementioned Tokyo-Tower-chopping, planes that flow back together when sliced apart, the Battle of Okinawa interrupted by a rampaging Aura Battler, a flowing airborne stream of shining white feathers, and nuclear light shining through a sky obscured by rippling butterfly's wings. Images of a more mundane nature—swirling cherry blossoms, Lyukus in a kimono—are no less arresting, and no more enduring in their effect. Spectacular CG effects, the intricate rendering of buildings as they are reduced to rubble, the soaring ships and buzzing mecha, the sweep and scope of flames all keep the violence moving fluidly and on a suitably impressive scale. The distinctive, attractive characters (and their periodically expressive faces) are wasted on the seemingly random, laughably truncated personal drama, but move convincingly through the roiling battlefields.
Other than a short promo video, the only on-disc extra is a nearly twenty minute interview with composer Yasuo Higuchi. It's pretty interesting going, delving into the thought processes and planning behind the series' full-on orchestral score. He doesn't, however, (for obvious reasons) go into the reason why Tomino uses his score as only the most generalized of support for the visuals, never optimizing its effect or utilizing it in inventive ways. In fact, the most memorable use of music is the conspicuous intrusion of a haunting vocals-only Ferrario song into the battle during Aesap's most morally ambiguous act.
The series' overarching story will be familiar to those versed in the adventures of Show Zama and Dunbine: Japanese guy goes to Byston Well, is declared a holy warrior, and returns to Japan to witness havoc wreaked by uncontrollable forces from Byston Well. They'll be able to interpret certain details more readily than first-timers (the implication of all those babies blooming in the land of the Ferrario). They're also more likely to be disappointed by this spin-off's failure to achieve the same mysterious addictiveness as its predecessor. As fun as the move is, it's telling that the "let's blow up Tokyo" turn that Rean takes is a step up from the main body of its story when the very same move was a step down for Dunbine.
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : C
Animation : A-
Art : A-
Music : B
+ Full of really cool images; constant battling distracts from the muddy plot and laughable drama.
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