Green Legend Ran
In the future the earth will be transformed into a desert planet where the oceans have dried up, plant life is nearly non-existent and it never rains. Water is tough to find, and it’s a hard life for the humans that are still around. In this world a boy named Ran is out to get revenge. You see when he was young, a fight between the army and some rebels killed his mother. The person he holds responsible is the man with the scar on his chest. This memory is burned into his consciousness. In this future, the army protects a cult who worship the mysterious objects that might have caused the drought in the first place, known as the Rodo. The only vegetation left on the planet surrounds these objects, and most people live on the outskirts of them. Water too comes from these locations, and is handed out by the cult. And the Rodo Cult is sparse with the water, and rules with an iron fist. A group of terrorist/rebels known as the Hazzard who are unhappy with this arrangement are trying to gain the upper hand. Ran is a hyper child living with his grandparents when another fight breaks out between the Rodo Army and the Hazzard. He gets involved and decides to join up with them. While working with the Hazzard, he meets a beautiful girl around his age with silver hair. Her name is Aira, and they become really close friends. However when the Rodo Army finds their encampment, the Hazzard take off in a hurry, and grab Aira. Ran tries to go with them, but he’s not fast enough and they leave him behind. However he notices the person who grabbed Aira is the man with the scar! So now he’s out to both save the girl, get revenge for his mother’s death, and get involved in the massive struggle that will determine the fate of the planet!
Green Legend Ran is an epic story. It’s a wonderful war drama, that’s intelligently written (with some great lines by the characters), and is somewhat emotional. The themes it deals with have to do with the environment and the way mankind treats the earth. At yet it’s not at all cliche, and I feel what it has to say is very profound. It also deals with war and violence. Many of the characters are interesting. While Ran may be a little annoying and easily excitable, you can tell he’s a good person and you do root for him (also the kid smokes like an indonesian boy). Aira on the other hand is smart, well spoken, and very kind. Even though she’s teamed up with the Hazzard, she tries to help the Rodo soldiers who get hurt by their attacks. She can’t stand to see people suffer. She’s easily my favorite character. Another interesting character is Kiba, the stubborn leader of the Hazzards. He is sure of himself, and want’s to take down the Rodo at all costs. Finally there’s Jeke, an independent water /food dealer. He’s kind, strong, and makes great decisions, yet seems to have somewhat of a memory problem. He’s not at all dumb, in fact he’s shown to be brilliant, but he just can’t seem to remember things very well. I really like the setting; there is something about deserts that really resinates with me. The story is far from original, but it’s much darker then other series like this. There is a great mystery that keeps you interested too, slowly teasing out the answers. In addition it’s told in a very powerful way that makes it stand out among it’s brethren.
However it’s not all good. The story is unnecessarily complicated and convoluted. The plot is just more confusing then it should be. In addition to this, it’s very choppy at times and you feel like you have no idea what happens in between the specific episodes. I can tell it was most likely planned out to be a 6 episode OVA series, but whatever happened they had to cut it down to 3. Still somehow the brilliance of it all shines through, and you’re left with a wonderful, yet harsh story with compelling and influential themes. It’s an anime that effects you. Ran’s grandfather makes an important point related to the theme, very early on in the anime. The Hazzard say they’re trying to help everyone, but their terroristic methods only seems to cause the regular people trouble. In fact he blames them for much of their problems. And he’s right to, they cause destruction, kill innocent people, and make life harder for everyone. Sure their ultimate goal seems nice, but most would rather they just didn’t rock the boat. This is a great point. Rebels often claim to have the people’s best interest at heart, but at the same time make things worse for everyone. I guess we have to weigh everything together, and decide for ourselves if it’s all worth it in the end. Because who is right and who is wrong is not clear cut. And this series makes that point crystal clear. You can’t really say who is “bad” and who is “good”, it’s just people competing for resources, vying for power, or just trying to live life. This is much like real life in a way. The story is also quite weird. It’s a very strange anime, that get’s more bizarre as it goes on.
The music is very moving, and works well with the emotional themes of the series. The series has a soundtrack that will stay with you long after watching. You may find yourself trying to get to sleep humming that main theme that’s depressing, but has a hint of optimism buried in there somewhere. Green Legend Ran was a very early Ocean dub, and it sounds like it too. For those used to the more professional sounding dubs coming out of LA and Texas recently, it may be a problem. But the dub is not terrible, just rough around the edges. I find it very well cast. It also has a very unique feeling to it, very unlike most dubs out there. But some of the smaller roles are poorly acted, and a few of the main characters have an awkward line here or there. On the whole the positives outweigh the negatives, and anyone who’s used to older dubs could like this. I do recommend giving it a chance. As with the show it’s self, it’s partly flawed, very weird, yet I feel the good parts make up for the negative aspects. Jason Gray-Stanford does a wonderful job at portraying the rash, hot-blooded, yet earnest Ran. Aira is played by Janyse Jaud, and she gives the character a cute voice, yet makes sure you know the character is strong willed. I really like the way she handled this role.
The artwork is very simple, yet it has a beauty to it all its own. It’s an amazing looking series. The character designs have bold edges, and look like they’re straight out of child’s cartoon. Yet it is this very contrast that let’s the violence really hit you. The backgrounds are gorgeous and beautifully colored. It has that old school-simple look to it that I just love. Every scene is like a work of art. The animation too is amazing. This is an OVA, and looks like it. It’s a very fluid show. AIC worked on this show, along with MTV (yes that MTV)
Many have compared this anime to the later Now and Then, Here and There also by AIC. It’s easy to see why, besides having the same look and style, it has many similar themes, the same feeling behind it, and even the music is reminiscent of Green Legend Ran. Aira as a character seems like a prototype for the wonderful Lala-Ru, and Ran seems like a more excitable version of Shu (from NTHT). While I find Now and Then, Here and There to be the stronger of the two (a real masterpiece really), do not easily dismiss Green Legend Ran. This is an amazing, yet partly flawed work of art that everyone should see. There’s very little to dislike about this series. It’s even short enough to watch it in one sitting. I really am grateful that andrea chii recommended it to me. Geneon put this out on DVD at least twice. It was an early DVD, so there’s no menu which can be annoying. But there is a great, albeit short extra feature tagged on at the end (an interview with the director). I do suggest buying this series, before it disappears like most of the water did in the show.