Genre: Computer Generated Sci-Fi Eye Candy
review in one breath
After young Alice is propelled thirty years into to the future, the world she finds is horribly different from the one she left. Massive population decrease and mysterious mass removal of entire villages all point to the formidable and mysterious Nero who controls the entire world through a super-intelligent computer which is virtually impenetrable.
Here's a visually stunning and intellectually fun science fiction anime which alone boasts to be the first ever Japanese CG feature and the first ever Japanese production screened using DLP (Digital Light Processing) projection. These are undoubtedly credentials which will make anime aficionados grateful for Western accessibility to this film.
As you may well have guessed, however, I am no anime aficionado, and simply watched Alice with a more common-folk perspective, inevitably comparing it with the other anime features I have seen. Rather than a new mode of "Light Processing", I looked for the more usual categories of "visual awesomeness" and "turbo-packed action". And I am happy to announce that Alice is not only visually awesome but also packs an excellent sci-fi tale which you, along with its characters, will not unravel until the concluding moments.
Alice presents a rather complex fantasy-laden sci-fi narrative. Though wonderfully rendered, the storyline's narrative clearly takes precedence over the anime technology. This results in a thoroughly entertaining story wrapped in stunningly vivid eye-candy. By not prioritizing detail over narrative substance, audiences will not need to suspend use of their intellects while watching this. Alice comes off as a cute yet mature tale intended for tech-savvy audiences accustomed to interesting characters and high-quality anime.
Alice wakes to find herself in a high-speed chase through tundra landscapes on the back of a jet-propelled uni-ski piloted by an android stewardess. Hot in pursuit are well-armored soldiers wielding large guns, seemingly intent on killing them both. With the help of Yuan, a local boy, Alice slowly realizes that she has somehow been catapulted 30 years into the future through a space shuttle crash. In the year 2030, the world's population has mysteriously and radically reduced to 1/8th its size, while the entire globe seems enslaved by a massive computer complex, the SS10X, run by the evil genius Nero.
Fighting against Nero is a Liberation Front whose motives Alice discovers to be as immoral as their enemy's. Believed to be the only one capable of bringing down the SS10X, Alice is kidnapped by the Front and forced to participate in an experiment designed to hack into the massive system. What Alice encounters inside the SS10X will cause her to risk everything, including the chance to return home, to reach the very heart of the heavily protected fortress in the hope of confronting Nero face to face.
This is a very entertaining sci-fi story, far more complex than many of the storylines offered audiences in the name of technological CG demonstration. I enjoyed the twists and turns within the narrative, and the visual CG tapestry into which this is woven is impressive and captivating. Alice (thankfully) does not attempt to depict a mind-boggling degree of detail, such as Final Fantasy's goal of hair-follicle independence. Instead, it presents a strong, polished storyline drawn in convincingly rendered anime landscapes and characters. The degree of detail in this CG world is indeed impressive, yet Alice adequately trusts the power of the audience's imagination.
Rather frequent gun violence, as well as brief references to mature themes such as a key figure's "suicide" out of despair, and "sexual harassment" once an android's derriere is suggestively slapped, probably keep Alice from being a story appropriate for younger children. All these elements, however, take a back seat to what is truly a fun and visually stunning science fiction fantasy.
Version reviewed: Region 1 subtitled DVD available at all mainstream venues.
|This films sets two historical precendents in the anime world and thus will likely be a collector's item for anime gurus.||Plenty of shooting deaths, though nothing too graphic.||Even in the year 2030, shapely female androids refuse to give out to the small guy. (!)||Fun and intellectually engaging sci-fi story wrapped in eye-candy extraordinaire.|