It's quite unlikely Funimation's re-release of Project Blue Earth SOS will cause much of a splash in the anime world as a whole but that isn't to suggest the title is to blame. In late 2008 word was released that Project Blue Earth would be one of over 30 ADV Films' titles transferred to Funimation Entertainment. The announcement not only proved Funimation's dedication to becoming a powerhouse player in the domestic anime DVD industry, it also hinted of the potential within titles that may have otherwise been overlooked.
Packaged in a single standard DVD case, Project Blue Earth SOS contains the complete animated series across two discs. Each disc contains three 45-minute episodes (which originally filled an hour slot in Japanese broadcast television with commercials). The total runtime comes in at 288 minutes.
The cover art of the set, the interior drawings, disc art and even the advertising campaign all hint heavily toward the 1950s era science fiction theme that the show very successfully emulates. I'll be honest, I went in to the series a bit skeptical not only because I'm fearful of such gimmicks in anime but also because 50's cinema has never been the epitome of realistic science fiction in my opinion.
The story is fairly straightforward; anyone who has enjoyed tales like War of the Worlds, The Day the Earth Stood Still, or Independence Day will delight. The earth is invaded by a malevolent and relentless race of alien intruders possessing technology far superior to our own. Earth has the foresight to create a top-secret organization with the purpose of intercepting any such potential threat.
The struggle presented is epic on a global scale and for the most part, it works surprisingly well. The aliens themselves are well crafted with just enough depth to back up the idea that they are technologically advanced when compared to us (I mean so often in sci-fi we find beings of superior intelligence that act like nothing more than animals). Additionally (and I won't ruin the surprise for you) these creatures turn out to be far more than they initially appear. Solving this story arc's mystery turns out to be great fun during the later portion of the show.
Pacing is simply spectacular as there are literally no dragging plot-moments throughout the entire show's run. Each episode is an exercise in plot advancement, action, and just plain alien-bashing fun even if the humans often end up getting the short end of the stick. Because of a relatively high budget, the show's creative staff was able to choreograph the action sequences with the type of attention usually reserved in the United States for feature films. Artwork is clean and sharp and observant viewers may note use of an abundance of green in color palette (skies, water, even the earth from afar) to dictate the show's vintage mood.
Also taking from the 1950s feel is a jazzy big-band sound score that fits subtly into the grander motif. The English dub is very appropriate with slightly over the top acting that wouldn't be out of place in a vintage cereal commercial.
I said above that the whole 50s theme initially gave me doubts about the show's legitimacy. Fortunately those concerns proved nullified shortly into the first few episodes. Yes the theme and mood captures those days really well (reel-to-reel tape recorders, big finned Cadillacs, radio dramas), the story development and science are certainly on par with science fiction films of today's ultra high standards.
The beauty of shows like Project Blue Earth SOS is that they come on strong from the opening sequence and don't quit until the final episode concludes. There isn't much in the way of layered plot depth, goofy editing to overcomplicate things, or mind-boggling theories (what if life was all a dream?) to screw things up. Instead it's the type of action-driven fun that simply begs for a big bowl of popcorn and a cold bottle of root beer.
The 1950's gimmick seems to come on strong through the first few episodes then fades to the background as the story begins to stand on its own. By the time you're knee-deep in the second (and final) disc, I noticed that it became much more difficult to categorize the show by a decade alone. As a final bonus, the color pallet increases by the concluding scenes, which does away with the earlier vintage feel altogether.
Funimation has a definite gem in their ever-increasing catalog with Project Blue Earth SOS. I recommend this to anyone looking to relax with a few solid hours of interstellar mayhem. Just don't forget to pick up the microwave popcorn.