Wednesday, April 22, 2015

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: Bonus Pick!! - Arjuna


Additional Links: ANN Entry, MAL Entry
Video [Free {Streaming}]: Hulu (Japanese w/ English Subtitles, English Dubbed)

April 22, as most of you know, is Earth Day, so I figured, what better way to commemorate this than with the most environment-loving anime in Arjuna: a show that that extolls the virtues and importance of protecting our planet, chastises the consumption of processed foods, and advocates out-of-wedlock teen pregnancy(!).

That something like Arjuna is the brainchild of Macross creator Shoji Kawamori should come as little surprise, as in his increasing years, he has shown himself to be very environmentally-conscious, free-thinking, and kind of out-there. The story focuses on a teen girl, Juna (nope, her name's not "Arjuna"…), who is brought back to life from a fatal accident by a mysterious young boy, in exchange for becoming the "Avatar of Time", a being tasked with saving the planet from malevolent, supernatural creatures known as "Raaja".

It feels very much as like Old Man Kawamori spilled out all of this viewpoints and beliefs into the confines of his 13-episodes series, which turns out to be as earnest, lecture-y, heartfelt, confusing, interesting, and obtuse as you might believe it to be—much like an old man's rant from the heart (similarly, though, it also cannot escape some of Dirty Old Man Kawamori's tendencies, though its not exactly the beta version of Aquarion).

The passion which Arjuna/Shoji Kawamori exudes itself can certainly be overbearing and graceless, as most fictional environmental works tend to be, but it is also part of its allureparticularly into the glimpse it lends into the thought processes of its creator and how he himself sees the world and how things used to/should be. One may find themselves nodding in agreement at one point, cringing the next, and perhaps laughing for the wrong reasons in-between, and clearly, one's mileage may and will vary, but overall, Arjuna is worth checking out at least as a curio in the annals of anime history and as an intriguing, personal entry in the body of work of one of its most significant contributors. As someone who has a soft-spot for the environment, but a great disdain for tree-hugging entertainment, the series was one of the best of its type I have seen/managed to tolerate, despite it being far from perfect.

As you might surmise, Arjuna is both a conservative's worst nightmare and a liberal's most lucid dream. Though the animation represents that of Satelight's earliest TV production and looks "2001", it is certainly not bereft of imaginative and eyepopping visuals or rich-bodied, Yoko Kanno-composed music (common elements of Satelight/Kawamori productions). They, along with the effort behind them, go a very long way in taking some of the attention away from the preachiness and other less desirable elements and makes the show more bearable, as well as distinctive. Personal ideals notwithstanding, Arjuna is the ideal title to start watching on Earth Day, and you can not only view it for free on Hulu, but you can watch it in either Japanese with English subtitles or English dubbed (which isn't too bad).

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