Distributor: Manga Entertainment (my version is the ADV version. Nothing is changed in either distributor)
Studio/Director: AIC/Hideyuki Kurata (writer), Atsushi Ohizumi (Character design), and Akitaroh Daichi (director)
No of Episodes: 13
Suggested Age: 16+ (note: ADV gives it a 13+ rating. However, I disagree and I think it deserves a 16+)
My Rating: 10/10
Summary: Shuzo Matsutame, or Shu to his friends, is a boy who lives in Japan and learns kendo. One day, he sees a sad-looking blue-haired girl sitting on a smokestack atop an abandoned factory. He discovers her name is Lala-Ru. But before he can find out anything else, they are transported to a world under seige by the mad dictator Hamdo, who has enslaved children into his soldiers.
Review: This is one of the most powerful anime I have ever watched. The artwork is simplistic, but don’t let that fool you. One thing I really like is the designs on Lala-Ru. Because she rarely talks, (in fact it’s not until episode 8 that we actually hear her talk!), the designers gave extra attention to her expressions. Every time I saw that sad stare, I ached a little inside because I could see the sorrow in her eyes.
Shu is a great character and one of my favorite anime heroes of all time. He is exceedingly compassionate and optimistic–no matter now bad things get, he refuses to despair and believes that “everything will work out.” He’s also a peacemaker–he refuses to fight anyone, except in self-defense. As a Christian, I admire this. Christians are called to be peacemakers and to only use violence if there is no other alternative.
Hamdo is an excellent villain. He is a childish man prone to tantrums. He doesn’t care who he hurts to enslave others, even his lieutenant Abelia is injured by his crazed anger.
My final character is Sis, a woman who cares for abandoned children in a refugee camp. She treats every child as if she were truly his/her mother and refuses to allow more violence. We only see her for a few episodes, but it was enough for me to love her.
What I liked most about this series is that it holds nothing back. It presented the horrors of war in all its forms and did nothing to shield you from it. By doing so, it added honesty to the story. I do not enjoy graphic violence usually, but when it is presented as this story does, I don’t mind it–in fact, I applaud it. The story clearly shows the consequences of the “cycle of violence”–that if violence goes unchecked, it will escalate. It is only when someone decides enough is enough and attempts to stop it that it can truly be stopped. This is a powerful story that I would recommend to anyone who can handle the story. It is a powerful, necessary story.
Sub/Dub: Both versions are excellent. The dub features Crispin Freeman at his best. Dan Green’s performance as Nabuca is also enjoyable, and Rachael Lillis does great as both Boo and Sis, showing impressive range. Jack Taylor is just scary as Hamdo, and he needs to be.
Music/Score: Taku Iwasaki did an excelent job with the score. It accents the story well and gives it a very dramatic feel. While I wish the opening animation didn’t just do shots of the characters, I still liked the haunting melody.
Violence: 7/10–As I have stressed, this is a very necessarily violent story. It is graphic, but not excessive. I do not think it was overdone in the slightest.
Language: 2/10–I only heard a little bad language.
Sexuality: 5/10 SPOILER! Late in the story, a girl named Sara is raped, resulting in a pregnancy. It is suggested that she abort the child and Sara attempts to do that. However, Shu and Sis do everything they can to stop her.
Nudity: 1/10–In one episode, we see Sis mending a boy’s pants. He is naked from the waist down, but only for this reason.