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Geneshaft is an interesting merger of styles that both fails and succeeds at the same time, much like Mika Seido.
Review by Matthew Anderson
13 Episode TV series
Running Time: 100 minutes (4 episodes)
Rated: PG (Violence and mild language)
In the 23rd century, mankind has finally eliminated war through the use of genetic engineering. This peaceful society of 9 women to every man is based upon color coded gene types and abilities or "Skills".
5 years ago, an mysterious ring appeared in Earth orbit. Apparently harmless, it is viewed as orbital nuisance. Under the auspices of the Integrated Earth Organization, Lord Sergi Sneak has been assigned to investigate and remove the ring. He sends Lady Mir, considered the pinnacle of genetic engineering, on a survey mission. At the same time, Lt. Mika Seito has arrived at a space station, in route to her next assignment, the Bilkis. Mika is considered a bit of a primitive, due to her White gene type. The only one she gets along with is Sofia, who has also been assigned to the Bilkis.
During the survey on the ring, Lady Mir is attacked by terrorists. During the battle, something triggers the ring, causing it to fire on California. With the Earth Government in disarray, Lord Sneak decides to disobey orders and boards the Bilkis, intending to find the creators of the ring, identified as Oberus and destroy them.
Once on board the Bilks, Mika and the rest of the crew learn about the "Shaft", a strange robotic looking device. It seems that Mika, Sofia, and Lady Mir have been chosen as possible pilot candidates. Unfortunately, the Shaft is full of computer bugs, causing it to shut down at the most inopportune moments. Mika must now prove herself capable of piloting the Shaft before Lady Mir has her way and takes it from her.
DVD VISION TEST
VIDEO: Great video quality. There are no pixels, color bleeds or rainbows to be found. There is a little edge enhancement, but it's not that noticeable. With the series being digitally mastered, you would expect a perfect transfer, and you get it.
AUDIO: The Japanese and English 2.0 audio is the same. Both are fairly well mixed, with some interesting surround sound elements. While not very aggressive, it will not disappoint those who like their sound crisp and clean.
EDITS: None. Everything is exactly the way you would see it in Japan. Bandai has finally gotten the right idea.
EXTRAS: Similar to Melty Lancer, the extras consist of the original pilot video, character galleries, glossary, and some "Bilks Programs" info.
STORY: Gall Force Redux anyone? This series is a typical "5 girls against the universe" story blended together with more than a passing reference to the "Giants" books by James P. Hogan. Sho Tokimura and Miya Asakawa's writing is predictable, but well done. It's enough to keep your interest.
ACTING: Some fine acting, on both sides of the Pacific. On the English side, you have Amanda Winn Lee (Rei in Evangelion, Rio in Burn Up-W) who is perfect as the hyperactive Mika Seito. You also get Crispian Freeman (Alucard from Hellsing) as the very strange and aloof Back Up Captain Mario. No sign of David Lucas though.
On the Japanese side, I really like Yuko Kaida deep voice for Sofia. Her voice reminds me of the very sexy sounding Ai Orosaka (Ryoko from Tenchi Muyo). I am also impressed with Ayako Kawasumi's frantic and evil shrill for Dolce Saito. The only one I was disappointed with was Yumi Kakazu's sweet voice. It was a little to high pitched for Mir.
FAN SERVICE: Well, there is, and their isn't. Sure, every single character is designed very sexy, and the spandex outfits really helps you to admire their curves. However, I doubt we will ever see a nude scene, or any panty shots. The only one who comes close is 12 year old Tiki in her bloomers. No thanks.
There are quite a few verbal and physical references to classic Sci Fi literature and movies. Several references are made to similar events that happened in James P. Hogan's "Giants of Ganymede" series. On Ganymede there is Niven base presumably named after SF writer Larry Niven. Even the late, great Isaac Asimov gets some service.
To the experienced anime watcher, Geneshaft may appear as nothing but a "Gall Force" knock off, with "gee wiz" CG to make it look cool. They may also find the writing is no different than a daytime soap with some techno babble thrown in. Yet somehow, they manage to make it all work.
One thing that was interesting was that the reason how the human race achieved peace. By engineering a woman to man ratio of 9 to 1 means that the women are in charge. Sure, there is the council of elders (all men) but it's really the women who are the General's and the Presidents. So, if you ever wondered what a world ruled by women would be like, then Geneshaft may answer that question.
The character designs are quite nice. Everyone, from uber-tomboy Mika to the "perfect woman" Mir Lotus, has a very nice shape. I am sure the designers intended that some of the women to have similar looks in order to emphasize that they were genetically engineered. With the exception of the 12 year old Tiki and the 10 year old Dolce, I hope that we will get at least one shower scene with each of them.
I like the mecha designs by Takayuki Takeya. The "Shaft" looks like something HR Geiger would have done. With its "Alien" like hands, grooved, scaly hull, and the segmented body, I think that Sil from "Species" would feel right at home. The same goes for the Bilkis as well.
The story is interesting, but not terribly gripping. Pretty much I know how things are going to end. The characters remind me a lot of the characters from "Battle Athletes Victory" What keeps me interested is seeing Mika, the lowly "White" overcome adversity to show up the "Snow Queen" Lady Mir. I will keep on watching to find out if Mika will win the fight to be the lead pilot of "the Shaft".
Visually, the CG animation is very well done, and blends in well with the traditional animation. One thing that I noticed was how subdued the color was. This series seems to be in a permanent shade of gray. You would think that a society based on gene color would be full of vibrant and expressive colors. Wither or not this was intentional, or a by-product of the colorization process, I don't know. Not that it really detracts from the overall look, it's just one of those quirky things I noticed.
Disc wise, the audio, video are fine. The extras are a little weak, but I can live with that.
Geneshaft is an interesting merger of styles that both fails and succeeds at the same time, much like Mika Seido. I will be picking up volume 2, when it becomes available.
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