BIRTH (1984)

 

Format: 82-minute feature

Rating: PG (AC, V)

Type: Sci-Fi

American Production: ADV Films

English Dub Production: Monster Island

Japanese Production: Kaname Productions

 

Grading

 

Premise:

C

Story:

C

Writing:

C

Character Design:

D+

Mecha Design:

D

Animation:

C-

Artistic Merits:

C-

English Dub:

C

Musical Score:

C

 

 

Humor Content:

C

Action Content:

B

Drama Content:

C

 

 

DVD Presentation:

not reviewed

DVD Extras:

not reviewed

 

 

OVERALL:

C-

 

Synopsis

      A robotic race called the Inorganics has taken over the planet Aqualoid after a near-apocalyptic war. Two hundred years later a young man named Nam comes across The Shade, which sets off a madcap chase involving him and three companions being pursued by lethal Inorganics. Can Nam master the sword and use it to defeat the Inorganics and bring about a new era for Aqualoid, or will his actions ultimately lead to the destruction of Aqualoid in favor of a new birth?

 

The Long View

      Birth is an odd science fiction movie whose artistic styling marks its age. It is a shallow, heavily action-packed show peppered with a fair amount of goofiness. What depth it has only becomes apparent in the movie’s final scenes, as does the probable meaning of its name (though this is set up early on). The central character is arguably Nam, though his sister(?) Rasa gets just as much screen time. She might not fight like Nam does, but she is certainly one helluva hover car pilot! Other main characters include a gung-ho, opportunistic soldier-turned-merchant named Bao, his androgynous and much more practical cohort Kim, and a cute, amorphous creature named Monga, who hops around like Rasa’s pet and occasionally saves her from dire situations as payback for her saving him from a predator early on.

      The character designs for Birth leave a lot to be desired. There’s nothing at all interesting about the Inorganic, many of the other critters are ill-formed, and the only human character worth looking at is Rasa – although she is quite sexy in a cute sort of way in her low-cut, form-fitting red outfit. (She is the only reason the “Character Design” rating isn’t lower.) A little more interesting are the other mechanical designs, especially for Rasa’s hover-scooter. Although the animation is quite rough in places, it does a fairly good job of rendering the fast-paced chase scenes and action sequences. The musical scoring, which sounds like it comes out of the early 80s, also leaves a lot to be desired. The English do the job but aren’t particularly remarkable.

      The graphic content in Birth is quite mild. Rasa’s sexy outfit and one scene where two skeletons are shown in the missionary position (watch for it in the underground city scenes!) are the only aggravating factors, and younger viewers probably wouldn’t notice either.

      That Birth finally got dubbed and release in the States after all this time is a sign both of how deeply anime-importing companies are now digging for new releases and of how much of a nostalgia push there is in the American anime fan community. It would be a big stretch to call Birth a classic, but it is significant for one reason: it’s one of the first titles (if not the first) that legendary writer/director Hideaki Anno, who would go on to great fame with titles like Neon Genesis Evangelion, Mahoromatic, and Kare Kano (aka His and Her Circumstances), worked as an animator.

      If you’re a fan of older anime then Birth is a nice, light diversion. I can’t recommend it otherwise.

 

DVD Extras

      Not reviewed.

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Nam

Brent Werner

Rasa

Alexis Chamow

Monga, biker, minor roles

Matt Hislope

Bao

James Phillips

Kim

Bradley Carlin

Grandma

Mary Agen Cox

Grandpa

Garry Peters

Arlia

Gemma Wilcox

Mu-nyo, minor roles

Cyndi Williams

Biker, assorted minor roles

Robert S. Fisher

Kid biker

Jeffrey Mills

Village girl, minor roles

Samantha Inoue Harte

Biker #1

Robert Matney

Giant Inorganic

Vinnie Moxpar

 

 

 

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