Written by: Atsuhiro Tomioka
Produced by: Katsuji Nagata
Art Direction by: Jun’ichi Higashi
- English and Japanese language tracks
- English subtitles
- Contains first four episodes of 13-part series
- Design gallery
- Textless openings
Doc’s Anime Warnings:
- Rampant silliness
- Annoying giggling
- Incidental groping
- Massive explosions
Released by: Pioneer
Anamorphic: Widescreen letterbox only.
My Advice: Rent it.
[ad#longpost]To even begin to understand Vandread, a little of the story’s background is in order. In the future, for reasons that aren’t thoroughly explained, men and women have segregated themselves onto two different planets, with completely different cultures, and are perpetually at war. Nevermind the whole issue of species continuation and reproduction (the creators of the series certainly did).
Into this perhaps ill-conceived world enters young Hibiki, a third-class citizen of the male empire. On a sort of dare, he sneaks aboard a battleship to steal a prototype mecha, and gets trapped on board when the ferocious women attack. The ship is over-run by females, and while Hibiki hides inside the mecha, the men’s admiral decides it is better to destroy the ship (and the prototypes) than let them fall into the hands of the women. Some sort of bizarre (and never explained) accident or reaction takes place, and the ship, women, and several male captives are catapulted to a remote region of the galaxy. Then come some really hostile aliens, and the two genders must co-operate to survive this fresh onslaught.
In essence, Vandread is an action/comedy. Obviously aimed at the “horny pubescent male” demographic, the plot is thin, all the women jiggle, and the explosions keep coming at a solid enough pace to prevent boredom. This is not to say the show isn’t enjoyable. The individual characters are for the most part interesting (though a few of the female characters are a little too hyperactive and shrieky to be tolerable in large doses). The animation is top-notch, and utilizes a decent blend of traditional cel animation and computer graphics to create a fairly stunning visual experience. The voice-acting (shriekers excepted) is quite good, and the humor, while occasionally juvenille, is actually reasonably funny.
The story leaves a bit to be desired, as some (I think) fairly important issues are never addressed. Namely, how have men and women survived for “generations” without the ability to procreate? I suspect cloning, but some discussion of this would have been nice. We also never find out exactly what caused the ship and crew to be hurled a few thousand light-years away, when they should have simply been vaporized. And very little is revealed about this new hostile alien species, which lives close enough to human space to have attacked or at least been encountered before.
As this is only the first disc in the series, it’s possible that all these answers are forthcoming, but I don’t suspect they are, given the quick glossing the issues are given in the initial episodes. The characters don’t seem all that curious about how they got where they are, nor do they wonder why these aliens have never appeared before. Hibiki does wonder briefly why the women haven’t attempted to devour him, as the male propaganda has warned him they would, but that’s as far as the whole “separation of the sexes” issue gets pushed.
Vandread: Enemy Engaged! makes for decent eye-candy, none-too-demanding on the viewer to pay attention to fine intricacies of plot. It’s reasonably entertaining, in a kind of brain-dead way, and worth checking out if you’re an anime fan in general. Given the relative scarcity of extras, only the die-hard anime completist is likely to want this title badly enough to own it, but casual fans might enjoy it as a rental.