Sunday, December 13, 2009

DVD Look: Silent Service

Silent Service is a made for TV movie, created
by Sunrise that originally aired in Japan in 1996. It was originally released on DVD by CPM in late 2003. It was later re-released in 2005 and that is the version I have. I found out about this anime by reading some general reviews of it (which were mostly positive). It seemed aimed at a more mature audience, and the character designs just grabbed me. So I bought it off of Rightstuf. You can still get it there for under $8.00. Well worth the price if you ask me.

This movie is about the most advanced
nuclear submarine in the world, The Sea Bat, and how it is used to call to attention the distrust of the Japanese by the American Government. I won't spoil how he does this as it's very dramatic, but to understand the main point of the movie you must first learn how the submarine came to be. The Sea Bat was made as a secret project between the Japanese and American Governments, and Kaieda was considered the most qualified person to pilot the sub (much to the disappointment of his long time friend and fellow sub captain Fukumachi). But despite Kaieda's years of loyalty to the Japanese, he betrays everyone and uses the Sub for his own crazy plot. He ignores orders and seemingly takes the most advance sub on the planet out for a joy ride, instead of finishing the test run. Kaieda then surprises everyone by declaring his sub an independent nation, named Yamato! This causes riffs in the ties between the American and Japanese governments, and sets up some of the most interesting and suspenseful submarine battles ever animated! You will look on in awe and disbelieve on every new technique Kaieda uses to outsmart and outfight the U.S. Navy (it's entire Pacific Fleat) and at times Japan's SDF Navy. The plot plays out very well and eventually Fukumachi and his little sub get involved. During this movie you will probably find yourself cheering for Kaieda, even if you don't really side with him, I know I was. He's a very charismatic character, despite his flaws. And he is 100% full of himself, in a Light from "Death Note" kind of way. He is sure what he is doing is right, and he is sure that it will make a better world. The ends justify the means to this man, and despite all his intellect he can't see that what he is doing may be wrong. His crew would follow him into the gates of Hell if that is what he commanded, and it's understandable why. The intellectual battle between Kaieda and his crew, and the multiple enemies they faces is nothing but thrilling! However at times it does feel very over the top, and could even be a little silly. But it never takes away from the enjoyment of the show. A main theme of the movie is iinternational geopolitics, and it is all very well thought out. Although not all of it is realistic (as another reviewer pointed out, The President of the United States threatens to declare war, but it is in fact Congress that must declare war), it is still very well grounded in reality. So overall the plot is very layered, very complex, and very exiting! Although it takes a few minutes to really get good, I was on the edge of the seat with this one. The twists and turns and crazy outlandish plot devices make this a great unique watch. it's a very strong show overall, with great directing, but a bit of weak writing here and there (I place the blame of the source material personally).

The character designs attracted me to this movie, and they don't disappoint. All the characters look very good. I like the style they are done in. While some designs on the minor characters may seem a little too much like other characters from the show, the main crew look very distinctive. They are drawn very realistically, and all are highly detailed. And an odd thing about this anime is whenever a character is introduced (and damn it they keep introducing new ones up to the very end) there is a little note on-screen note telling you their name and rank. It's an interesting way to introduce characters, and for an anime with this large a cast and this short a time, it's helpful in keeping the "who's who again?" straight. The backgrounds are great as well. The color palette may be a little too dull for some, but I liked it. For 1996 this is very well done overall, and it aged great. The animation is fluid and scream big budget. The background music is decent, but forgettable.

The dub for this is also another strong point. It was dubbed in New York City, although I am not sure what studio. The show acts much like a live action war movie would, and the actors seem to understand that very well. Although a few of the minor characters performances are a little iffy, everyone else does a great job. B. H. O'Neill captures Captian Kaieda's almost-stuck-up personalty perfectly. He makes the character sound very strong. Whenever he talks it's like listening to wisdom, and almost-arrogance incarnate. And he also makes you like the guy, which a real feat in and of itself. Maurizio Peppicelli does an overall good job as Fukumachi, although I think some of his lines come off with the wrong feeling behind them. Like he wasn't sure exactly what emotion he was trying to display. But he's usually quite good. The President of the United States (Nicholas J. Bennett) is played by Robert Jones, and he fits the character. In fact all the characters are cast well, and there are few if any weak points overall.

So to summarize, this movie is very original, very thrilling, fast paced, and incredibly suspenseful. And it's also so over the top at times it's a little funny. But that doesn't subtract from the fact that it's a great movie, with good production values. The plot is a little convoluted, but it's forgivable seeing how exciting this is. Well worth the price of the DVD!

Prede's Raiting
3/5 Stars

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