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ARJUNA Anime Legends Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

August 31, 2008 by  



“The anime does preach a lot about ecology but its an anime that is made to make viewers think and whether or not its message gets through to you or piss you off depends on the viewer.  I, for one, enjoyed the series and because anime such as ‘ARJUNA’ is unique in many way, I can understand why it has received 50/50 reviews.  Some will love it, some will hate it.  But it’s all about the message and if one can make a change in their life because of this anime, then its mission accomplished.”

DVD INFORMATION:

DVD TITLE: ARJUNA – ANIME LEGENDS COMPLETE COLLECTION (aka Chikyu Shojo Arjuna)

DURATION: 325 minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Animated, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC

COMPANY: Bandai Entertainment

RATING: Unrated

STAFF INFORMATION:

DIRECTOR AND ORIGINAL CREATOR: Kawamori Shoji

SERIES COMPOSITION: Kawamori Shoji, Ohnogi Hiroshi

CHARACTER DESIGN: Kishida Takahiro

MUSIC COMPOSER: Kanno Yoko

THEME SONG BY: Sakamoto Maaya

High school, archery club, and boys were the things that filled Juna’s daily life. But when an accident leaves her clinging tenuously between life and death, fate intervenes as she becomes the sole witness to scenes of Earth’s destruction along with humanity’s reckless pollution of the sky, the Earth, and water. It is here in which Juna is given a new chance at life and bestowed the powers of the Earth, a power she must wield in order to stop an evil bent on Earth’s destruction.

Contains all 13 Episodes of Arjuna!

When it comes to ecology and the environment, it’s usually a topic that some people welcome and a topic that many people know about but really don’t want to get involved in.

And I suspect that when you have a top tier anime director/creator Kawamori Shoji (“Visions of Escaflowne”, “Super Dimension Century Macross”, “Macross Plus”, “Macross 7”, “Macross Zero” and “Macross Frontiere” to name a few) and composer Kanno Yoko, theme song by Sakamoto Maaya and character designs by Kishida Takahiro (“Tenchi Muyou”, “El Hazard”, “Heat Guy J” to name a few), you expect to have a quality anime series.

The 13-episode TV series that aired on TV Tokyo back in 2001 received a DVD release in the US back in 2002 and for so long I have wanted to watch this series.

The anime series is primarily about a teenager named Ariyoshi Juna.  Your typical high school girl learning archery and spending time with boyfriend Oshima Tokio.

With her skills at archery training not going as well, she tells her boyfriend that she wants to see the sea.  Tokio, being so in love with Juna, decides to take her to the sea via motorcycle and everything seems well until an entity flashes in front of them and in the process, both are thrown of the motorcycle.

Juna is rushed to the hospital and she pretty much is dead.  That is until she hears a voice of Chris Hawken (a powerful entity)  who tells her that he will give her life back if she saves the world.  Juna is given a glimpse of the Planet Earth, especially Japan in terrible shape with drought, famine and more.  Not wanting to leave her mother and Tokio behind, Juna agrees and is given her life back.

All of a sudden, while Tokio and her mother are pretty much saying goodbye to Juna, Juna awakes and runs up to the hospital roof and there she is met by some secret organization known as S.E.E.D.

It appears that Juna has a special power to turn into Earth Maiden Arjuna and able to see these monstrous worm-like entities known as Raaja (which are literally Earth’s bacteria).  Arjuna thinks her job is to use her powers to fight the Raaja but Chris keeps giving her messages of “why do you want to kill?”, “What are you trying to do?” and Juna really doesn’ t know what her job truly is.

Throughout the whole series, we start learning a lot about ecology, organic food and how there is a cycle of everything that we use and eat but because of pesticides and pollution, our Earth is being hurt by it.

In one episode, Juna and Tokio stay at a farm and learn from a farmer about organic vegetables.  Juna and Tokio not knowing why people would want to eat vegetables that have been eaten by bugs.  Also, being taught that pesticides hurt the system.  Because there is a cycle to food.  The bugs, the worms undergorund, the soil, everything has its purpose.

And from that point, we see Juna becoming more of a vegetarian and just can’t eat regular food without having images.  For example, Tokio tries to get her to eat at a fast food restaurant Merikan Burger and images of the cows just make her sick.

She now lives a lifestyle of wanting to protect the environment, eating the right food but yet everyone around her doesn’t understand why.  They don’t like being preached about the environment, especially from her.

So, literally her relationship with her family and with her boyfriend Tokio is being tested.  And her best friend Shirakawa Sayuri seems to be getting closer to Tokio because her involvement with S.E.E.D. and her enviromental perspective is dampening her relationship with everyone she’s close with.

So, for the first eleven episodes, we see as Arjuna comes into contact with the Raaja and Kawamori finds ways to get his message out to viewers on ecology, protecting the environment and how industrial pollution and pesticides and a variety of other things happening in today’s world is really hurting the environment and if people don’t change their ways, it will be too late.

Throughout the series, we meet other characters.  The major player outside of Juna and Tokio is the other person with spirital power, Chris Hawken who is literally dying since he gave part of his life to revive Arjuna.  He can’t talk and communicates through a young telepath named Cindy.  Cindy despises Juna maily because Chris tries to get close to her and Cindy really cares for him.   When Juna screws up, Chris is there to try to help in his weakened state but there is only so much he can do.  But he tries to help Juna become aware of why she was chosen and why things are happening to the planet.

And in the final episodes, that is what happens.  The city of Tokyo has now been invaded by the Raaja, water and food and anything that is absorbed by the Raaja is affected and people now are dying.

The series is a mix of sci-fi mecha, sci-fi bishojou magical girl and your typical high school love triangle all together in one series.   The “mecha” in this series is mainly a protector of Arjuna who shows up to make sure she is not killed.  The “magic girl” part in this series is what Juna can transform into. She can fly and as a weapon, use a specialized bow and arrow to fend off attacks.  And of course, the high school drama is between her, Tokio and Sayuri.  And of course, there is other drama such as Juna’s relationship to her mother and sister, her teacher and of course with Chris and Cindy and other members of S.E.E.D.

VIDEO:

As for the video, I enjoy anime series that show a large variety of scenery.  This is anime features the city, a farming area and various locations that I really enjoy that and it really pushes the staff to create so much scenery and beautifu backgrounds and animation and all in all, I really enjoyed the animation.  Granted it was created in 2001 but nevertheless, in 2008, I enjoyed it very much.

AUDIO:

I watched this series both in Japanese and English.  I enjoyed the Japanese version and found Higashiyama Mami’s acting as Arjuna and Seki Tomokazu’s voice acting as Tokio to be really well done.  But I soon discovered that I really do enjoy the English dub voice acting which I felt was done very well.  Maggie Blue O’Hara and Andrew Francis did a great job with their voice acting as the couple and everyone else as well.  So, both languages are just exceptional.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Special features include interviews with Kawamori Shoji, the cast and an Arjuna dictionary.  Also, music videos.

Just an interesting note that “ARJUNA” features different ending themes and so after each episode, you more than often get a different ending theme which I found interesting.  Also, a live ending that was reminiscent of the bubbly “Kare Kano” but actually featuring a school girl running into the sunset.

For me, it was a plus to get a series from Kawamori Shoji that was not “Macross” related but even moreso, an anime series that would tackle on ecology and various topics within the scope of environment but also a few other things which I don’t want to spoil for the viewer.

The series does get preachy and remember those after-school specials that were shown on TV trying to let people know about a wide range of topics from racism, ecology or something to catch your interest and make you think.

This is an anime series that does just that.  There is a message that Kawamori wanted to get through and even in the anime series, a message of, if one can make a change, possibly that one can make others change.

Reading the various reviews on the Internet, I can see why this anime series is loved and hated.  No one likes things being driven down their throat but on the other hand, for those who are open to hearing out another perspective, then it’s fine.

For me, I try to do my part for the environment but I’m not as hardcore as Juna.  I have no qualms eating my Boca or Veggie burgers, recycling, purchasing organic vegetables and being considerate of the environment but at the same time, I have no qualms of going to Burger King and ordering a double cheeseburger as well.

But Kawamori’s message did reach out to me and this series did give me a good understanding about pesticides and for me, I enjoy learning new things and open to hearing other perspectives.

So, I enjoyed the series for that.  I also enjoyed that twist of, “OK, we warned you that there will be problems if you don’t change your lifestyle” and where people think it won’t be in their lifetime, in this series, problems happen immediately and destruction and chaos comes.

Granted, when we see news about the melting glaciers, drilling for oil in the ocean because of escalating gas prices and the hole in the ozone layer, how does one feel about those topics?  Passionate, bored, interested or don’t care?

So, that is where “ARJUNA” as a series is being interpreted by anime viewers.  You either love it or hate it.  And you either care about the message or look at it as a pathetic attempt to a person’s beliefs being driven down your throat.

For me, I enjoyed the series.  It was a great blend of sci-fi, love triangles and bishojo heroines.  But of course, the main thing about this series is indeed the message of making a change in your life and accepting of what is happening in this world.  You either get it or you don’t.  You either welcome that message or you don’t.

So, by saying that…if you are open to Kawamori’s message on the environment through a series like “ARJUNA”, check it out.  If you are the last person who cares about hearing details on the environment, this anime series is definitely not for you.

+ A cool collaboration from top tier people in the industry, Kawamori Shoji, Kanno Yoko, Kishida Takahiro, Sakamoto Maaya and more.

+ I dig the message on the environment

+ Very good voice acting on both Japanese and English dubs

– Some may find this series to preachy about the environment, thus this anime is not for everyone.

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