Past Lives

Mar 06 2006

This weekend, a very special package arrived: a VHS tape of E.Y.E.S. of Mars.

Those of you who watched anime movies on the Sci-Fi Channel back when they still showed anime movies may remember this one. It’s an ecological fable about a psychic girl who gets caught up in the final apocalypse of Mars, and eventually sends her spirit to earth to found Atlantis and give Cro-Magnon man sentience. But the moral was that she (and everyone else) should have stayed on Mars and tried to save their own planet instead of “infesting” another world, even though Mars was at this point uninhabitable. Yeah. Doesn’t make much sense.

But I remember it vividly, as this is one of the movies I watched back when I had only a vague grasp that the Japanese had their own wacky animation industry. This was part of the dawn of my anime fandom. I remember it fondly.

So, after much searching (the net may be vast, to quote Masamune Shirow, but just try finding information on this film besides a few random reviews), I finally found someone actually selling a VHS tape for real and bought it. (This is the second time I have tried to do this; the first time, I was informed after ordering it that the tape was out-of-order and couldn’t be restocked.) It came on Saturday.

You may be yawning and asking, “So what?” Well, not only was this part of my past, my apprecation for E.Y.E.S. of Mars helped establish my love of anime. I liked this film (didn’t love it, but enjoyed it). How was my judgment?

Pretty much spot on, it turns out. E.Y.E.S. has some great animation, a comprehensible and easy-to-follow plot, an honest-to-goodness New Agey environmental message, and one of the more shocking endings of any anime I’ve seen. It’s not a good ending, but it is a surprise.

It’s enjoyable. The characters are pleasant to look at and they’re animated smoothly. The plot chugs along from one plot point to the next, logically enough in the small details though as mentioned above rather silly when you stop to think about the implications. And it ends (pardon the spoiler, but you’re never going to see this movie) with the death of every character in the movie in a fiery inferno. But the main character is a psychic, remember, so she uses her psychic abilities to resurrect herself and her comrades in a purely spiritual form and fly to Earth.

After much passion is spent pointing out that they should save Mars. Despite living in a nearly collapsed city that explicitly can’t survive another thirty years, that’s just barely shielded from the rest of the completely barren, lifeless planet. Huh?

But it is enjoyable. I can take silliness in the large when the ride is enjoyable (see Star Wars). And this was a fun ride.

The credits rolled (to beautiful symphonic music written by the composer for Zeta Gundam), and I felt validated. My past sense did know quality when he saw it. I knew what I was doing when I got into this.

Now to put some more beautiful animation into the world.

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