Although this movie isn’t great by any means this somehow captures the look and feel of anime in the 80’s, from the style to the animation it might lack a little in story to capture interest but it makes up in entertainment. Entertainment which helps gives the movie some way to stand out because of its action which helps deliver
The characters for this movie sadly fall into the category of bland and forgettable as some of them don’t seem to have much to offer in the way of depth or appeal to latch onto throughout the story, our main protagonist Hiro (a racer in the rag-tag bike game) mentions from time to time he heralds from a rich family and it’s clear early on he has issues with them but never goes into much detail regarding those issues, even when he is developing a romantic relationship with Maggie (a medical school student) we don’t see much of a chemistry between the two except only when the embrace. The reporter Susan Summers isn’t really that much of an engaging character when you follow her journey and her getting that story she needs to help boost her career in journalism, she comes across as brash and very bratty and doesn’t have much of a redeeming quality to her until the end of the film when she is able to present her story. The rest of the characters really are nothing more than in that “Just There” category and don’t offer much in the way of quirky and weird insults at each other, which really is this movies biggest flaw in trying to tell a story with characters who don’t offer much in the way of a personality.
The animation for this movie, despite not having much plot to rail through is excellent for the most part. Animated by Triangle Staff (Hyper Doll, Macross Plus, Junkers Come Here, Serial Experiments Lain) there is much to admire about this movie in regards to its animation. Venus Wars relies heavily on its weaponry, vehicles and its design to make each weapon and form of Military Machinery have something to help make it stand out. The mechanical designs by Makoto Kobayashi (6 Angels, Steamboy, Space Battleship Yamato 2199, Last Exile) really helped bring the vehicles to some form of life which is what a movie like this needed to provide a layer to the action.
However what I think deserves the attention the most is the character designs, Yoshikazu Yasuhiko (Crusher Joe, Mobile Suit Gundam, Arion) has a distinctive style that has managed to last up to the current era of Anime. The look of the character mostly in how they stand out as being “80’s inspired” but how in comedic moments the characters are able to display some funny and quirky facial expressions, in some works where Yasuhiko has provided character designs before the budget for the product has not been of a higher quality to where the limited funds are crippling for the characters to emote properly. Thankfully here there are moments where expressions are a wide variety and can move from humorous to stern etc, so the animation in the movie is one thing that stands out a mostly about it.
The English dub to this done by Manga UK isn’t that bad, it’s not their best or worst works but it falls into the category of Okay. However as mentioned the characters lack any depth or personality and the actors while they try hard with what they are given don’t help make the characters stand out that well. Ben Fairmen as Hiro plays him rather averagely, Denica Fairman plays Susan Summers fairly okay but when I heard her at times she often fluctuates way too much between sounding like an adult and like a teenage girl. The only two performances from this English dub which stood out at all were Bob Sessions as Gary (the mechanic who was once a soldier) and Peter Marinker as General Donner (the general of the forces of Ishtar). Both these actors manage to deliver their performances rather well and help make these characters seem commanding and offer some level of depth to their roles in the movie, Gary who used to be a soldier who offers some level of support to the rookie biker gang and General Donner who while not much is known about him it’s thanks to Peter Marinker’s performance he stands out a little bit as a villain appearing as both a tyrant and someone with a level of charisma.
Overall what I can say about Venus Wars is that on the surface while the animation today looks very dated it stands out as a product of its time and when you look at the amount of time and effort gone into creating each frame, building each vehicle and designing each character you can step back and appreciate it for what it is. Sadly however as great as the animation is this severely lacks in a story and fails to really provide anything remotely interesting for the audience to care about and seems to run out of steam by the very end of the movie, despite that though it’s a very entertaining movie.
Worthy of a couple of watches despite lacking in plot.