George C. Cole
Sonja S. Fox
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Submarine 707 Revolution (2005)
6th Apr 06
Think Captain Nemo versus The Hunt For Red October.
Sometime in the future, a battle is raging between an eco-terrorist organisation called the Undersea Silence Revolution (USR) and the United Nations. In an attempt to tackle the problem head on, the UN forms the Peace-Keeping Navy (PKN) – a collaboration between eleven countries. Initially, all but one of these countries supplies a hi-tech, state of the art, nuclear submarine. Instead the Japanese Navy supply an old diesel sub called the 707, nicknamed the Snapping Turtle and skippered by Captain Hayami.
As it turns out this is fortuitous as the 707 arrives late for the PKN’s inauguration ceremony, an event that had already been gate crashed by the USR’s UX lead by Admiral Red, and the 707 is sacrificed to save the Apollo-Norm, the PKN flagship, thus starting a grudge between Red and Hayami.
Six months later, Captain Hayami is given charge of a new and improved 707, and the battle between the UX and the Snapping Turtle resumes.
The opening sequence is dark, and moody. We first get to meet Admiral Red, a character that reminds me slightly of Hausen from the Urotsukijodi series, using an extremely hi-tech sub to disable and then destroy two UN submarines. So you think the tone is set, but then after the opening credits, the music chosen is a too much like The Love Boat which is a little confusing. But score aside the story is very interesting, coming across like a mixture of Jule Vernes and Tom Clancy - something like “Hunt for Captain Nemo” – and told in a Cold War setting, when the world had different views of the countries we know today. Besides the obvious things like "Admiral Red" and the "USR" (minus one S), it is the way in which the countries and politics are presented which highlight this. For example, the Americans are portrayed as brash, arrogant, bullies, so convinced of their superiority that they jokingly tell the PKN "They could come along for the ride". And at one point you can spot an airplane with UN-US signage, possibly a comment on the relationship between the two?
I liked the balance between animation and CGI, and the water sequences are really well composed, mixing sepia-tones stills and audio to great effect, especially while covering the large battle that ends Mission 1 and begins Mission 2. The animation is generally of a high standard, and the CGI is merged well with the overall picture, such that at no point does the CGI become overpowering. The story is multi-layered but a tad predictable at times. For example, the scenario where an obsolete vehicle saves the day is far from original. There is also a scene where we find out that the American sub is controlled by an AI, and that nothing could go wrong, only to find out that the UX also has an AI!
This anime is clever in the way it portrays its characters. It shows both side’s opinions and oddly they both want a better world, it just seems that the USR doesn’t want any humans in it! It is assumed that we as viewers should support the PKN, but I think that there is much more to this story than has been shown in this anime. The two main protagonists are similar as well. Both are fathers, both are superb tacticians, but they both have very different mentalities. While Hayami seems to be your standard anime good guy, Red seems to be very complex, and it is a shame that there might not be more episodes. There seems to be lots of sub plots (no pun intended), with Hayami being a pawn in a strategy by the PKN to destroy the USR.
There are also a few oddities about this series which may be cultural. The first officer of the 707, Nangou, is embarrassed when looking at Hayami's very young daughter and I’m not sure of its relevance to the story, but it did make me feel uncomfortable. There was also a scene where Hayami’s daughter is only in her underwear – why this is needed I don’t know, but as I say it is probably just cultural. Also there is some very blatant sexual innuendo, which perhaps might make this cartoon unsuitable for younger children.
But overall, this is a very enjoyable anime. It is a nice fusion of 20,000 Leagues and The Hunt for Red October. There was a good degree of suspense and action with enjoyable submarine battles that use a lot of cat and mouse tactics, and a bit of science. One stand out scene involved the use of fresh water, and a sonic wave to disable several USR subs.
It would be annoying if there were only to be 2 episodes to this series as there are so many questions posed, with the plot being both convoluted and interesting. There even seems to be hints at the current world state. For instance, it appears that fishing is banned across the globe, but this is merely hinted at. Is it? Who knows: so many questions, so few answers.
Versions Available from Manga UK as 'Missions 01 & 02' or Manga US as 'The Movie'. Go figure.