Chikyu Shojo Arjuna ("Earth Girl Arjuna," 2001) mixes heavy-handed ecological preaching with story elements that recall Blue Seed, Silent M÷bius, and Gate Keepers. Arjuna, a normal teenage girl, dies in a motorcycle accide... more »nt. As she floats through the ether, a mysterious entity named Chris tells her she is "The Avatar of Time" and if she agrees to fight the Raaja, evil demons that will soon destroy life on Earth, he will bring her back to life. She awakens and boards a helicopter from S.E.E.D. the Earth Defense Institute. She's sent into battle with no training, then is insulted when she needs help to overcome a Raaja that resembles a cross between a snake and a sea anemone. Director Shoji Kawamori combines drawn animation with motion-capture, CG, and live-action footage, but the elaborate visuals can't disguise the holes in the plot. Rated 13 Up: Violence, nudity, grotesque imagery. --Charles Solomon« less
"It starts out with this ordinary highschool archery student named Juna, and her boyfriend Tokio. At the start of the movie, Juna is feeling bumed that she didn't do well in the archery contest, buckling under pressure. Her boyfriend decides to cheer her up, and wishes to take her to "a real coast," to see the sunset.
What is meant by "a real coast" is due to the fact, that where they live, the ocean water is so unhealthy and dirty. So Tokio takes her on his bike to the ocean. But this is where things take a turn for the worst. The bike hits some distortion in the road, and Juna is flung off the bike and begins fighting for her life.
She sees herself dying on a hospital bed, and her boyfriend praying that she lives.
It it at this point she recieves a vision, where she becomes the sole witness to the destruction of earth, and everything on it, by this evil life form called the Rajah. It is here that Juna is given a second chance at life, under the condition that she becomes the Avatar of Time, and wields the powers of the Earth."
Environmental Science Fiction Takes a Step Beyond
Robert Clay | Richmond, VA, United States | 02/17/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In the Arjuna universe, the creatures known as the Raaja have an unearthly, translucent quality and seem to be "poisonous" to touch, reminiscent of the beasts in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Also similar to the Final Fantasy movie, the concept of the Earth Spirit permeates the Arjuna series and Juna is forced to examine her motivations for fighting the Raaja. Are they part of the Earth or an enemy to be eliminated? The cryptic directions of her mentor Chris and the S.E.E.D. agency do not offer clear answers, but only create new questions. Juna must discover meaning herself as she develops in her role as the "Avatar of Time."Juna experiences the epiphanies of a city girl suddenly immersed in the wildlife of the Japan Alps. The typical elements of a Buddhist belief system are easily identified, as she confronts the need to unlearn the categories of good and evil while cultivating an attunement with nature. The music of Yoko Kanno provides an ethereal acoustic backdrop for Juna's explorations and interweaves the unique rhythmic style found in the Cowboy Bebop sessions.Overt environmental themes are forced at times and do not always flow from scene to scene. Detailed explanations of modern crop production, including the destructive impact of fertilizers and pesticides abound. The technique of blending actual film footage of farm machinery and pollution is also typical. These vignettes are combined with quoted environmental statistics, giving the story a directed message about man's sloth as it relates to the mass production of food. References to popular fast foods also appear, including a close-up of the pink, fatty insides of a "Meriken Burger," promptly followed by a montage of emaciated cattle, steroid capsules and automated meat presses. Even a popular Japanese health drink "Appare Genki" does not fare better and the virtues of pure organic farming are solidly promoted.In spite of the forced aspect of some of the plot threads, the characters make the story enjoyable and unique. Juna is a very likeable "girl next door" and reacts understandably to the exotic new realm in which she lives. Tokio Oshima, Juna's devoted boyfriend, often plays the role of skeptic, but works hard to deepen their relationship and accept Juna's new identity. Juna's romance with Tokio is strained by her agonizing visions of the Earth's destruction. Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she must balance a wildly fantastic, mystical role with the everyday struggles of a modern teen.Juna's interactions with Chris twist her environment further as only she and Chris can directly see the Raaja without specialized equipment. Cindy, the sarcastic and precocious interpreter of Chris, would certainly meet J.D. Salinger's approval and reveals a little more about her past before S.E.E.D.The character drawings are realistically proportioned and are believable. Vivid computer animation effects are also utilized, producing some innovative layered texture effects and also the Raaja animation. Overall, Arjuna - Journey (Volume 2) is a solid anime that contains enough artistic detail, character development and exotic content to interest the majority of Western anime viewers. Those who enjoy Escaflowne and Evangelion should not miss this release!"
Visually and musically breathtaking anime with a plot!
paper tears | Southwestern USA | 05/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First, "Arjuna" was created by Shoji Kawamori of "Escaflowne" and "Macross" fame. This series is definitely on par with those two masterpieces. Animation, character designs, voices (even the dub), music (two words: Yoko Kanno!) and story are all as amazing as Kawamori's other work, but that is where the comparison ends for the most part. Further, Arjuna's story is unique, with a intricate, yet not convuluted depth rare in anime. In short, it makes you really think about the subject matter it explores. Rather than just throwing out abstract ideals, Arjuna really examines a less common point-of-view about nature, as well as human nature. Finally, the perspective is offered from a 15-year-old girl as she searches for her identity and faces a lot of very normal stuff along with the supernatural, magical-girl adventure. I recommend this series for fans of Kawamori, those who love beautiful animation, those who like great character relationship development or anyone who wants to really stop and think about the man vs. nature conflict. Its not a stereotypical shoujo, magical-girl, mushy plot at all, in fact, its a refreshing mix of top-notch animation and music with introspection. The DVD release is well done with nice extras and very good A/V. The soundtrack is a typical Kanno masterpiece too!"
A great story related on an imaginative canvas
paper tears | 01/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Anime (as film) is a work of art that tells a story. As we all learn with age, there is an infinite variety of ways in which a story can be told. Remember that an animation artist struggles to be creative and to convey his, or her, ideas in the most captivating manner. An artist does not deliberately negotiate his work with the intent of producing an unappealing result in the end. There is a lot of personal effort that goes into the act of creation. Arjuna happens to be one of the best combinations of story and creative animation. The entire series deserves six stars!"
paper tears | 11/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This anime is one of the best "serious" movies I've ever seen. I'm usually in into action/comedy type of anime but this takes the cake. I'll give a short synopsis since everybody else whose written a review gave one already. So, I'll just give you my opinions and what I liked about the anime.
If you seen Macross or Escaflowne, this movie is similiar in terms of how the audience would react to it because it is a great emotional tugger. However, unlike the other two anime MOVIES (series), this one is a lot longer in terms that it is an anime series and it develops the characters a little more than Macross and Macross Plus.
I guess many people can identify themselves with Juna. The director portrays her as an ordinary girl (in the beginning until you are shown her potential) who just does things like everyone does, what they feel or like to do. However, her life is a routine even though she has a boyfriend. An event, her death, changes her life and she is "recruited" by an organization called S.E.E.D. and becomes the Avatar (incarnation or embodiment) of Earth. What is interesting is that she is though she is the Avatar of Earth, she is filled with the "impurities" that distorts her connection to it. The theme seems to be how humanity is "a plague" (not trying to steal from The Matrix) that causes these "demons" to appear to run rampant, destroying the Earth. I'd have to admit that the storyline is really well done in terms of character development and how it flows. Unlike Escaflowne the Movie, it doesn't jump around as much though you still get the urgency for her to become the Avatar.
Overall, this anime is great. The graphics are the same as Now and Then, Here and There and the fight scenes are pretty cool. Though they don't have guns blazing and all, it is still pretty cool. What I really liked was the music. It fits the mood and theme of the movie. I'd recommend this anime to add to your collection. I can't wait until the next set in the series comes out."