Based on the manga by Kouga Yun, Earthian is a bit of a strange OAV to review. Story-wise, it is based on the manga world, but is not entirely part of the manga universe. There are certain inconsistencies which are introduced by the OAV compared to the manga world. Because of the OAV's basis on the manga, there are some flashback scenes as well as a cameo appearance in the OAV which pays homage to one of the earlier stories in the manga resulting in the feeling that there is a lot more background to the story than is immediately apparent in the OAV. Despite this however, we don't have to have the background manga information to comprehend the story as being told; simply we are being made aware of its existence.
The OAV itself is rife with inconsistencies. At times it is decently animated with good detail, while at other times, the animation and drawing style looks like a high school project with very poor design and illustration. Point in fact is the scene of the explosion, the viewer is left looking at the scene and wondering where something that looks so very obviously unreal (animation looks real??) and simplistic came from. Otherwise, there is fairly heavy use of stills and pans, but on occasion, there are crowd scenes with movement throughout the scene. Other times, backgrounds are static or simply empty. Much of it varies throughout the show itself. Unfortunately, this variation isn't limited just to the animation itself; it also occurs with the direction and the music as well.
While the voice acting itself is quite good, there are times where timing of characters lines and the way the lines interact with each other seems rather contrived. While it may be a weakness both with the scripting as well as the direction, certain scenes strike the viewer as being just that bit off and unnatural. Likewise, the scene where K-001 is seen to still be functional was... well, while it makes for a good trivia question, it was just a bit too contrived and obvious a rip-off to sit well. Likewise, when Kagetsuya moves to pursue K-001 after Chihaya is taken hostage, Taki's line again strikes viewers as just that bit too unreal hence holding Kagetsuya back. These unrealistic areas tend to seriously dampen the viewing experience for the viewer.
Lastly, with the inconsistency list is the music. Overall, it is very well done and helps to build the ambience of the scene and does well to enhance the viewing experience. However, there are two points which beg notice. The first is in the battle between the various people from "House" and Kagetsuya, Chihaya and Takako. Just as the final person is defeated the music ends. Very suddenly. The viewer is left going "eh? Where'd the music go?" the break is that sharp and sudden. While this is repeated in a later scene, at that point it is there for a reason and is a logical way to enhance the scene. At this first point however, there was no particular reason for it's sudden sharp end beyond the end of the battle. However, the end of the battle was not so sharp and striking to require the same in the music. The second point which annoys me is as a musician. The final end song, while the song is very nice in itself, the singer is sliding to her notes and not hitting them solidly. That plus a slightly flat rendition makes for decidedly painful listening. While most people will not notice these things, for those of us who do (ie. if you have perfect or near perfect ear), it can be somewhat torturous and leave you cringing.
However, that's not to say that the OAV is not worth watching. Indeed, the voice acting by Sasaki Nozomu is solidly done as is Inoue Kazuhiko. Both lead voice actors are solidly in character and do a good job at portraying their characters as well as the uncertain partnership between the two. While there were the problems with the music as mentioned previously, overall the music itself was truly solid and helps to build the viewing experience.
Likewise, the characters themselves and the interaction between Kagetsuya and Chihaya get the viewer interested in the story being told. Kagetsuya, the older of the two, is also clearly much stronger than Chihaya and is quite capable of taking care of himself. Chihaya however, is rather the opposite, more impulsive and slightly irresponsible, he is also not the most capable in hand-to-hand combat. However, the relationship between Kagetsuya and Chihaya, and the uncertainty between the two as they learn to get along with each other comes through clearly. Despite this unease with their partnership however, Kagetsuya especially works to keep Chihaya out of trouble.
A couple of points for people interested in the series itself, the Japanese LD release is on two LD's. The first LD contains the first part of OAV 3 as well as OAV 1, while the second LD contains the second half of OAV 3 as well as OAV 2. It can make for some confusing viewing if one's not careful. Otherwise, the manga is still incomplete at 5 volumes. While there are no plans to release the tankoubon for book 6, there is a rumour that the compilation release is to contain the final parts to the story. As to when and if this will happen is anyone's guess much to the frustration of Earthian fans.
- JN, 2000.09.30