Late in the 21st century, mankind has colonized and inhabited the second planet from the sun. Instead of the glowing new frontier of discovery and a new world, mankind brings its nature of war and confrontation to Venus. When the militaristic colony of Ishtar invades the capital city Io of Aphrodia, it places the citizens and streets under occupation and restraint. Following multiple characters, most notably: Hiro; an amateur racer and excellent Battlebiker, Susan Sommers; an Earth reporter looking for a scoop on the war on Venus, and General Donner; the commanding officer of the occupational forces.
Directed by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, Venus Wars is an absolutely stunning film and features some of the smoothest and most fluid animation of the 80’s. Mechanical designs are unique and characters have realistic movements. Colors pop and the somewhat dark and dank world of Venus seems fully alive and as the viewer, you are with them in the conflict. It offers some great action and the bike scenes stand out especially. Paced incredibly well, the film is literally filled with action and of a good variety.
Dealing with mature themes like refugee status, revenge, and liberation, the movie does move into darker thematic territory towards the end but keeps the entertainment factor at the fore. Content to let the more humanistic elements come naturally, the film is a flat out rollercoaster ride of explosions, bullets, and close calls. The expert composer Joe Hisaishi breathes life into the film with a welcome score that is appropriately electronic but not spacey. Similar to his work on Nausicaa, it is a grand series of tracks that brought me back to that era of action and SF animation. Not without flaws, the film introduces a number of characters that while never taking the focus away from the conflict at hand, the change the tone of the film to slapstick comedy and a clumsily forced romantic thread which is hardly satisfying or necessary.
Gaining massive exposure in the early 90’s care of the Sci-Fi Channel’s Saturday Anime block, Venus Wars is a movie that exemplified the differences between Japanese animation and the generally youth oriented animation of the West. While held with a certain regard by an older generation of anime fans it is mostly unseen by the fans weened on the digitally produced works of today. It is an exciting and thrill a minute film that despite some odd choices has me on the edge of my seat on every viewing. It is a beautifully drawn film, which despite its plot holes, that absolutely deserves to be discovered by the uninitiated.
You may enjoy this film if you liked: Star Trek (2009), Dirty Pair, Akira, and/or Star Wars.