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Nadesico: The Prince of Darkness

 

Review by Scott Richardson

June 14, 2007

 

Summary

 

Three years have passed, and Admiral Misumaru prays at Yurika and Akito's grave, hoping that they're getting along. At Shirahime colony, a mysterious military force breaks through the Unified Forces defense lines, allowing a group of men to infiltrate the lab and murder the researchers. Jun, now in command of his own United Forces ship, is informed that an unknown, black unit has boson jumped near by. It seems that the Hisago Plan--a network of colonies built to facilitate a Chulip-based boson jumping network, currently being developed by the combined might of Earth and Jupiter--is being targeted by some unknown enemy. The United Forces General Assembly meets to discuss what needs to be done, but all they seem to be good at doing is fighting amongst themselves. Jun's report of a boson jumping mech is ignored by the Accident Investigation committee, which reminds him that neither the Earth, nor the Jovians, have the technology to make a compact boson jumping mech. Jun feels that something is being covered up, but feels powerless to do anything about it. Fortunately, his military superior--Admiral Fukube's father--decides to trust him and sends out the Nadesico-B, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Ruri Hoshino, to investigate. Ruri receives her orders and prepares the ship for a Chulip jump while her two subordinates, Saburota (formally a particular hot-shot Jovian first officer) and Hari (a young genetically engineered boy) bicker amongst themselves. 

When they arrive at the Amaterasu colony--the heart of the Hisago Plan--Ruri, Saburota and Hari are blown off by the colony commander, who is extremely annoyed by their presence, and sees it as a sign that the United Forces don't trust them. Out of spite, he cooperates with their investigation by letting Ruri join the children's tour of the Hisago Plan. Ruri plays along in order to provide a distraction while Hari hacks into the colony computer to see what he can find. He discovers that Amaterasu has been conducting unsanctioned human boson jumping experiments before the computer suddenly goes nuts. At first he thinks he's been caught, but quickly realizes that yet another system has connected to the colony computer and is reeking havoc on all systems by displaying the word 'OTIKA' on millions of communication screens all over the colony. Hari reports to Ruri that it's almost as if this other system is laughing. Ruri, considering her next move, suddenly notices what 'OTIKA' spells backwards, and takes off running for the Nadesico-B, telling Hari that the enemy is coming. Sure enough, a massive boson reading is detected right outside the colony, and a mysterious black mech appears, and blows right past colony defenders. The colony commander immediately orders the use of weapons in and around the colony, with no care for the colony citizens. At that that very moment, however, Ryoko reveals herself and an entire Aestivalis squad lying in wait at the colony's perimeter. Ruri makes it back to the ship, and having been told that they aren't needed in this fight, decides to hack back into Amaterasu while they're distracted. 

Ryoko isn't having a lot of luck with the black mech, when all of a sudden, another boson reading is detected on the other side of the colony. A battleship jumps in and fires a gravity blast which wipes out the majority of the rear defenders. A mysterious, pale girl named Lapis, who seems to be the sole crew member, releases hordes of unmanned Jovian grasshoppers against the remaining colony defenders. The black mech makes a break for the colony's interior, with Ryoko in hot pursuit. The colony commander receives a report that gate 13 is being forced open by an unknown source. He reminds his staff that there is no gate 13, which causes his second in command to inform him that the charade is over--he and many of the colony's staff are members of the Martian Successors--a group which is as of this moment declaring war on Earth and Jupiter. The black mech flies through gate 13, followed by Ryoko who loses him while fending off an attack by unmanned drones which seem to have been programmed to attack anything that comes into gate 13--friend or foe. Ruri contacts Ryoko and offers to lead her through, causing Ryoko to smile and note that it's been almost two years since she saw her last. Ruri successfully leads Ryoko to a large vault which the black mech has stopped in front of, and connects to it via a communication line. Ruri contacts the black mech's pilot and asks the pilot--an emotionless man with a black visor which obscures his face--who he is and what he's after. The man ignores her and proceeds to hack the lock. As the vault opens, he tells them that he has no time, but they can watch if they want. Seeing what the vault contains, Ryoko explodes with rage--unable to believe what she's seeing. The boson jump core--which the Nadesico stole to end the last war--has been integrated into the heart of the Hisago Plan. 

At that moment, a declaration is sent out by the Martian Successors, and specifically, by former Jovian Admiral Kusakabe. He informs everyone that the Hisago Plan now belongs to the Martian Successors, and that their first course of action will be to destroy Amaterasu. The masked man warns Ryoko to dodge, just as the both of them are attacked. Despite this Ryoko is more or less neutralized by the mysterious enemy, which seems to be giving even the black mech a run for its money at first. He tells Ryoko that this does not concern her, but suddenly, a menacing-looking red mech boson jumps in. The pilot quotes some poetry before asking the masked man if he plans to die in front of his woman. The boson jump core begins to peel back like a flower, revealing the upper half of Yurika, who seems completely fused with the core. Ryoko gasps, realizing that the masked man has to be Akito. As the new enemy attacks, Saburota bursts in in his own Aestivalis and rescues Ryoko. As he drags her cockpit away from the colony, Ryoko begs Ruri to let her go back, reminding her that it was Akito and Yurika back there and she doesn't want to leave them behind again. Ruri emotionlessly prepares the Nadesico to leave the exploding colony as soon as the pilots are retrieved. 

In the aftermath of the Martian Successor's debut, a group of military brass, including Admiral Misumaru review Kusakabe's history. After the war ended, he was overthrown and was believed dead. But now it seems that his Martian Successors have gained agents in nearly every level of the Hisago Plan and the government itself. Admiral Misumaru believes that Kusakabe wants to control boson jumping, and through it, the government and the economy. Afterwards, Admiral Misumaru informs Ruri, Haley, and Saburota that he intends to give them command of the Nadesico-C, a third generation phase transition battleship, and with it, a top secret mission to recover the ruins. Since he no longer knows who to trust, it is decided that, outside of the three of them, the Nadesico-C must be crewed by outsiders. Mr. Prospector enters the scene to help them get the old gang together. Mr. Prospector leaves to track down Izumi, whom he finds singing at a seedy bar. Ruri finds Hikaru working as a manga artist, who quickly agrees to join the crew on the condition that Ruri and her friends help her meet a deadline. Ruri falls asleep while helping Hikaru and fitfully dreams that Akito, Yurika, and Inez's supposed deaths were actually somehow connected to a boson jump-related conspiracy. 

In the meantime, it seems that the Martian Successors under Kusakabe have managed to occupy the Martian polar ruins and are currently gathering their supporters. Admiral Misumaru, along with Jun, Admiral Fukube, and Admiral Akiyama discuss the fact that 30% of the Unified Forces have joined the Martian Successors. Their discussion is interrupted when the secretary patches through a call for Jun from Yukina. Yukina wants to know where Minato has suddenly taken off to, and manages to brow-beat Jun into telling her. Meanwhile, at Howmei's ramen shop, Ruri, Hari and Saburota note that twenty former Nadesico crew members have declined their offer. Hari petulantly asks why it's so important to re-assemble some old crew, when the three of them are the best team ever assembled. Ruri ignores him until he finally loses it, yelling that she doesn't have any faith in his abilities and running down the street crying. Hari wanders the streets sulking, and eventually runs into Minato, who asks him for directions to the very place he just bolted from. He breaks down crying again and winds up accepting a drink from Minato, who has now recognized him from the letters Ruri sent her. Minato's pep-talk seems to pick him up a bit before Ruri and Saburota locate the two of them. Later that night, Minato and Howmei catch up over drinks. Minato tells Howmei she originally came out here to catch up with Ruri, and had no intention of joining another crew, but now that she's seen her, she doesn't think she can just go home to Yukina. Though she never shows it, Ruri is pushing herself. Over Mars, a United Forces fleet is close to victory over the Martian Successors. But just as the battle seems won, dozens of mechs boson jump inside the United Forces defensive lines and completely turn the tide in favor of the Martian Successors. It seems that the Martian Successors have finally gained control over the boson jump core though Yurika. They managed to get around her Akito fixation, by seeding her dreams with cheap romance comics and using Akito's image to suggest jump points. 

Meanwhile, Ruri decides to send Hari to the Moon to prepare the Nadesico-C for its new crew. A shuttle is deemed too risky, so they arrange for a Class-A boson jump navigator to jump him there. As Hari meets his navigator, Ruri and Minato go to pay their respects at Akito and Yurika's grave--as this day happens to be the second year anniversary of their supposed death. When they arrive, they are shocked to find Akito paying his respects. After the initial shock, Ruri pays her respects and notes that she should have realized what was going on back then--Akito, Yurika, and Inez weren't the only Class-A boson jumpers who disappeared that year--the Martian Successors must have been abducting them. She tells Akito that there's no way she could ever know what he went through, but she has to know why didn't he let her know that he was still alive. Akito blandly states that there was no reason to. Minato slaps him, and demands that he apologize to her--after all, he and Yurika were the ones who adopted her. To Minato's shock, Akito pulls a gun on her. Slowly, however, he swings it around and points it at the mysterious pilot of the red mech he fought in Amaterasu, who seems to have appeared out of no where. Akito empties his gun at Hokushin, but his bullets have no effect. Akito suggests that Ruri and Minato get somewhere safe, as this does not concern them. But Ruri notes that escape doesn't seem to be an option. Six of Hokushin's lackeys appear, and Hokushin orders them to capture Akito alive (they're free to hack off a limb or two, though). As for the other two, Hokushin orders them to kill Minato, but to capture Ruri unharmed--as she has golden eyes similar to Lapis. Ruri guesses that these are the guys behind the abductions, and Hokushin tells her that they are the dregs of humanity who exist only to do what must be done to usher in the Martian Successor era of justice. At this, a laugh erupts behind Hokushin and his men. Gen-Ichiro steps out of the shadows, and tells them that Kusakabe does not follow the path of justice. Hokushin identifies Gen-Ichiro as a traitor to their cause, causing Gen-Ichiro to agree and note that he's a traitor to a friend, a traitor to Jupiter, and now a dog of Nergal. On cue, several dozen, heavily armed men in black pop up all over the graveyard. Gen-Ichiro tells Hokushin that he can either surrender or die, and then deftly handles two of his minions who rush him. Unfortunately, Hokushin surprises everyone by boson jumping away. Akito emotionlessly notes that Yurika must be under their spell now--which means that the offensive can't be far off. He tells tells Ruri he has something to give her and hands her a piece of paper. Ruri recognizes it as his special ramen recipe and demands to know why he wants to give her this--he'll need it after this is all over. Still not betraying any emotion, Akito tells her that the Akito she knew is effectively dead. When the Martian Successors captured him, they performed all sorts of experiments on his brain, ruining his nervous system. He no longer has any sense of taste, and thus he will never be able to make ramen again. 

Later that day, a shuttle full of the mostly reassembled crew of the Nadesico takes off for the Moon. To Minato's shock, when food service begins, Yukina emerges from the cabin as a stewardess. Minato is none-to-pleased that her charge has left the safety of Earth to tag along with them, but Hoary puts down her objections by reminding her that, as the sister of the Jovian hero, Yukina could be a target for the Martian Successors, so she's probably safer with them. Just as the shuttle meets up with its escort fleet, a large group of Martian Successor mechs boson jumps in and targets the shuttle. Minato takes the helm and plunges right into the enemy lines, successfully breaking through. With the escort fleet keeping the mechs busy, things look for the the Nadesico crew until a second group of mechs boson jump right in their path. Fortunately, the shuttle is saved when, to their shock, the Nadesico-C boson jumps to their rescue, wiping out the enemy mechs with a well-placed gravity blast. Even Ruri is taken by surprise, and asks Hari--who's currently in command of the Nadesico-C, how they could possibly have boson jumped. Hari's jump navigator unsurprisingly turns out to be Inez, who starts up another episode of The How and Why of the Nadesico to explain the situation to everybody. Ruri interrupts her, however, and asks why Inez is not dead. A communications window from Akatsuki pops up to explain that, after Akito and Yurika's abduction, they thought it would be best if Inez faked her death, to throw her pursuers off. Ruri asks Akatsuki point blank if he's a good guy or a bad guy this time, but before the amused Akatsuki can answer, he is forced to hang up to deal with the sudden, but not unexpected Martian Successor invasion of Earth. Akatsuki seems to have already laid a trap for them, however, and when a large group of Martian Successor soldiers burst in, they find a music concert starring Megumi and the Howmei Girls with various other characters sprinkled on backup instruments for no reason whatsoever. This distracts them until Gen-Ichiro broadcasts a message to all invading Martian Successors, telling him that he was the one who killed Shiratori, and he did it on Kusakabe's orders. The United Forces counterattack begins with new Nergal Aestivalis being deployed all over and completely bowling over the inferior Martian Successor mechs. 

On Mars, word reaches Kusakabe that their invasion of Earth has failed, when suddenly, all the remaining Martian Successor forces guarding the polar ruins go dead as the Nadesico-C boson jumps right overhead. Ruri and Omoikane have successfully infiltrated the Martian Successor network and force all their equipment to shut down without a fight. Kusakabe agrees to surrender on the condition that his subordinates are well taken care of. Hokushin's group, however, does not intend to go quietly, and makes a bee-line for the Nadesico-C. They are blocked, however, by Akito's battleship, which jumps right in their path. Akito launches in his black Aestivalis, intent on getting bloody revenge. At the same time, Ruri attempts to contact Akito's ship, and finds Lapis--a mysterious young girl, who like Ruri, was a Nergal test subject and a product of genetic engineering. Lapis explains that she acts as Akito's senses. Akito barely manages to hang on while fighting all seven of Hokushin's units, but fortunately, Ryoko, Izumi, Hikaru and Saburota fly in to provide support, deftly taking out all six of Hokushin's underlings. On the ground, Hokushin and Akito stare each other down, intent on ending this rivalry once and for all. They each rush the other, both getting in solid punches. Akito's crushes Hokushin's cockpit, killing him, while Hokushin's blow causes Akito's black frame to fall off, revealing his old pink Aestivalis underneath. With the boson jump core now back in the hands of the United Forces, Yurika is freed from her strange predicament, and immediately wonders why everybody seems so much older--apparently completely unaware of what has taken place over the past two years. Akito leaves with Lapis, without saying much of anything and without visiting Yurika. The crew believes he will return one day, and Ruri notes that if he doesn't, she'll track him down and drag him back herself. After all, he's a special person to them all.

 

Commentary

 

You would have been hard-pressed to find a Nadesico fan that wasn't clamoring for a sequel after the series ended in 1997, what with all the mysteries left unsolved and the general desire to see all the characters back in action again. Unfortunately, this movie is all they ever got. The comedic tone of the series is nearly completely thrown out in favor of a depressing, convoluted, and ultimately pointless plot with one of the most anti-climactic endings I have ever seen. Considering that all the Nadesico-C wound up doing is dragging Ruri to Mars so she could effortlessly disable an entire army, one is left to wonder why it was necessary to spend an entire third of the movie reassembling a crew that really didn't wind up doing anything at all. And good luck following the story unless you read up on Martian Successor Nadesico: The Blank of Three Years, a Sega Saturn game which filled in what happened between the series and the movie (Akito and Yurika got married, adopted Ruri, and supposedly died in a shuttle crash, causing Ruri to eventually return to the fleet where she was given the Nadesico-B by Admiral Misumaru)--the movie does not seem very interested in filling in these gaps for you. Ruri's role in the movie was trumped up a lot due to her overwhelming popularity among fanboys, but unfortunately, she really isn't the kind of character who can carry an entire movie--she makes an unconvincing captain and her relationship with Hari was forced at best, and downright creepy at worst. But probably the most unforgivable thing is what they did to Akito. They took their good-natured cook and Gekiganger fan, tortured him off-screen for a couple years and brought him back as a soulless anti-hero. He basically becomes the antithesis of what he was, and instead of redeeming himself or otherwise giving closure, the movie ends with him not having changed one iota from how he was at the beginning of the movie. It might be worth noting that one of the reasons for the clunky-ness of the movie's ending is that it was originally planned as the first movie of a trilogy which never wound up materializing and doesn't seem as if it ever will. To date, the only way to find out what happens after the movie is to track down the video game sequel, Martian Successor Nadesico: The Mission for the Sega Dreamcast, which was never released outside of Japan. Whereas the series' ending, even as incomplete as it was, left you feeling pretty satisfied, the movie does nothing but leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. While most bad sequels are at least worth it for the fans who want to see their favorite characters back in action one last time, fans of Martian Successor Nadesico would do themselves well to completely avoid this travesty.

 

Overall Rating

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0 out of 5 stars
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