Big Wars wins the award hands down for most boring anime title ever. Yes it beats out the stupidly named The Legend of the Legendary Heroes, the hard to pronounce Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai, and the cheesy Virgin Fleet with ease. There wasn’t even a contest. Luckily for us the writer (Katsumi Koide) spent more time on the plot then the name. This movie opens up in the distant future, where yet-another planet has been terraformed, this time Mars. The development of Mars by humans has upset an alien race who refer to themselves as “the Gods”. The Gods claim they created humans, and will only allow them to live on one planet. These aliens have created strongholds on the outer planets, and have started putting pressure on Mars. These Gods have a huge advantage over the humans, as they have the ability to subvert people, turning them into slaves who will act on their behalf. This subversion, not unlike Invasion of the Body Snatchers, is known as “infection” and the humans have been working tirelessly to develop ways to detect it.
Captain Akuh has just lost his ship in an important battle in the Mars desert. Many of his men survived the battle, but were injured (including Akuh himself). But Akuh’s heroic actions allowed the humans to, for the first time, capture an alien. And to everyone’s surprise this specific alien was a beautiful women who looks just like regular person. As reword for a job well done, Captain Akuh is assigned to a top secret mission, aimed at destroying a major alien battleship. This is meant to coincide with a major offensive assault on the front line. They aim to strike at the aliens twice, and strike deep. These wounds, if everything goes precisely to plan, will not heal easily for the Gods. The battleship is known as “Hell”, and that name fits, as anyone who’s even seen it has been sent straight to Hell. They’ve been blown to pieces. The battleship Hell has a cloaking device and is usually surrounded by fleets of flying saucers. Captain Akuh is made commanding officer of a brand new state of the art battleship developed by the humans. The Captain then flies into the city where this ship is being built. While at the airport, terrorists who have been subverted by the Gods, stage an attack. And it is during this very attack that Captian Akuh meets up with an old friend and colleague, Lt. Darsa. Darsa is now working for the military’s counter-espionage division, that aims to uncover and hunt down humans who have been subverted. These two pick up their friendship where it once left off, which leads to some romance.
The first half of this film deals heavily with the espionage and counter-espionage aspects of the war, while the second half deals with Captian Akuh’s top secret mission, and the major human offensive. (There are two major battles shown in the second half, Akuh’s and the main offensive. ) The espionage half of the film is much stronger. The first half is quite suspenseful at times, because as the Captian attempts to figure out who has and hasn’t been subverted, we the audience sweat alongside him. Who can be trusted? Who’s secretly working for the aliens? Has even the Captain been subverted? We worry for the Captain, we worry for his girlfriend. And we’re never quite sure of what’s going on. And if a film can make us feel all this, then it has done something right. It’s a shame the film drops this aspect, instead focusing the second half on major battles. Sure the second half of the movie is truer to the title “Big Wars”, but that doesn’t make it better. The battles in the second half are quite large and mildly entertaining to watch. But one can’t help wondering where all the greatness of the film has gone to? Some scenes during the second half can drag on a bit, and manage to become a little boring. Another problem with this film is the characters are about as deep as a puddle. The film follows the main crew of this ship, but we barely known any of these people. The only one we’re familiar with is the Captain himself. There’s practically no development for Akuh’s crew and the other people involved. Yes this is only a movie, I can’t be too hard on it, since clocks in at under 2 hours long and all. But there needs to be more character development for us to care about any of these people. The little development that does happen, is done through throw-away lines. But at least the cast is likable, if nothing else. The engineer who designed the ship, and who plays a vital role on board it, is a favorite of mine. He deserved more screen time.
The animation in Big Wars is above average. The battle scenes depicting flying saucers impress, and some of the human movements are quite realistic. But there’s better looking things from the early 90’s out there folks. The art is quite detailed, although not what anyone would call pretty. This is a dark, gloomy, and gritty future that is depicted on Mars. Where no one can be trusted, and where battles loom out in the desert. Still this looks pretty nice. Character designs are more “mature” in style then most anime. They remind me of the designs in Silent Service. Backgrounds manage to be eloquent enough. The music is pretty disappointing. It fits a war movie, but they really needed a better composer. This is just an uninspired, boring soundtrack. It’s even a little corny at times. As far as the dub goes, well there’s no one else out there like B. H. O’Neill. He is inspiring, amazing, and extraordinary. Every word he says is dripping with such emotion, intelligence, and sheer force that you are blown away. You can see how and why he’s risen so high in the ranks of the military. He truly sounds like a great military leader, and he knows how to act! He was perfect in Silent Service, and he’s perfect here. O’Neill carries the dub on his back like a mule. And he’s stubborn like one too. So what if someone else isn’t acting, he’s going to give this his all anyway! The actor he’s playing off of is phoning it in? He don’t care! The actress is bored in the booth and reading a magazine. Oh well! Yeah sadly a few of the other roles are poorly acted (or not acted at all). I only need point at Cynthia DeMoss, who plays the doctor, for you to know what I mean. She just says her lines like a robot. But all hope is not lost, the actors playing the other military men do an great job. Captain Akuh’s crew are pretty well acted, and so is Lt. Darsa and her boss. It’s the other people that will make you roll your eyes a bit. Still I don’t mind at all, O’Neill is amazing. He’s all that matters and he’s top-notch. He should have just played every role (even the girls). I would watch that! But even besides him, there’s still more good then bad here. I liked some of the little touches like the Public Announcements on the PA system in the airport .”Don’t let the Gods subvert YOU”. Very sci-fi. This movie was dubbed by little known Sound Dimensions, NY. And I do suggest you give it a listen. But this won’t be converting any sub-only guys to the other side of the aisle either.
Central Park Media put this out on DVD at least twice, the latest being in 2003. The first one was distributed by Image, released in 1998, and it’s a snap-case. So if you don’t like those kinds of cases avoid this release. That’s the version I own. This DVD has a menu, but it goes straight to playing the movie. To access the menu you have to press the button on your remote. Not a big deal. And it’s quite a nice, animated menu too. Not sure if they changed this for the 2003 release or not. They first had this out on VHS too of course, back in the 90’s. The dvd’s can easily be found on amazon and rightstuf for cheap. Directed by Issei Kume and Toshifumi Takizawa, this movie is nothing that amazing. It’s not some timeless classic everyone needs to see (unlike the other anime with a terraformed-planet ). That’s probably why you never heard of it before. But it has some great moments, mostly in it’s first half. It’s quite suspenseful and thrilling at times. And the second’s half battle scenes are pretty interesting. But it’s cast of characters are flat. I still think there’s a lot of good in here. It’s worth seeing, especially if you like suspense-thrillers or war movies. By the way, there’s a sex scene, some nudity, and lot’s of blood and violence in this movie. Hide the children. I’m told this series is held in high respect by some Japanese otaku. Not sure how true that is, but I can sort of see why.