Monday, August 31, 2015

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: Geneshaft


Additional Links: ANN Entry, MAL Entry
Video [Free {Streaming}]: Hulu

For August's Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick, I thought it would be nice to take a stroll to (relative) yesteryear and highlight another one of Satelight's earliest works—actually, its second-oldest, following April's Arjuna—the ever-interesting Geneshaft.

The Kazuki Akane-directed (Escaflowne, Noein, Code Geass: Akito the Exiled) series takes place in the 23rd century, with humanity having genetically-engineered itself into a state of (perceived) utopia and perfection, via a color-coded genetic caste system. However, it now finds itself under the threat of extinction by a mysterious giant ring hovering near Earth, which is connected to an alien menace. To save the species, it is sending the best-of-its-best to combat it, along with a giant, obtuse mecha and a wild card in Mika Seido, a "White" that seemingly has little to offer…

For the most part, Geneshaft is a very much a series of its time—but that is not entirely a bad thing. The use of CGI is a centerpiece of the 2001 show and comes off better than most from that period, but, of course, it is also a bit stiff and unrefined. It features character designs by Yasuhiro Oshima (Geobreeders, Zaion) (who has all but disappeared from the anime scene after doing at least one more show.; where for art thou?). It has that contemplative, slow-churning, "thinking man" atmosphere and feel to it found in a number of post-Eva anime, such as your Serial Experiment Lains and Boogiepop Phantoms. And similar to those and other early-2000 series, it has a deep ambition streak in it (though to a lesser degree than its Arjuna predecessor) and can be just a tad depressing at on a number of occasions.

Likewise, it also does well-enough with its story and possesses enough quirks to make it a unique, if not memorable, ride. Perhaps, its most remarkable might be its against-type hard rock/metal soundtrack by Akira Takasaki, who also supplied its rollicking instrumental OP. One would think that Geneshaft, just by the visuals alone, would be backed by surging orchestral pieces, not surging guitars riffs, but I would say it works for it more than the former would have. It is an eclectic touch that breathes some extra life into a show that can be methodical in its pacing at times and gives it some additional identity, to boot. The overall production effort is pretty solid, particularly for a 2001 show, and further confirmation of Akane's skills as a solid and able director & visionary of stories with elements both conventional and atypical.

Geneshaft is freely available on Hulu in both Japanese w/ English subtitles and English Dubbed (quite a good one at that, too, featuring a very rare female role from boy-voice extraordinaire Brianne Sidall).

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