Three years after the war between Jupiter and Earth, we follow Ruri Hoshino as captain of the Nadesico-B space cruiser. Peace seems secure, and a new colony project called the Hisago Plan is well underway -- until it is attacked by a rogue, unknown Aestevalis that has a exceedingly skilled pilot controlling it. Who is this renegade pilot, and could his arrival have anything to do with the disappearance of Akito and Yurika many years ago? Ruri will have to delve deep into her own past and that of her former crewmates as a new far-reached conspiracy unfolds...
Before reading any further, I'm going to let any readers out there know that this movie is based almost entirely on the TV series and, if you haven't seen the TV series or at least read my review of it, go do so now. I say "almost" entirely because the movie is not a direct sequel of the series. A Sega Saturn game entitled "Martian Successor Nadesico: The Blank of 3 Years" that takes place three years after the series is its direct sequel while the movie takes place two years after the game. And, being unable to obtain a copy of the game or learn much about it, I dove into the movie expecting a couple of plot holes. I was right. STORY The Great War between Earth and Jupiter is over and the two planets have entered into a formal alliance, but that doesn't mean all is well as both Akito and Yurika have been missing and presumed dead for years. A surprise attack disables and destroys one of the United Earth Armed Forces new space colonies and, while the attacker is unknown, one of the ship's captains in the area is able to witness the boson jump (the process that sent Akito from Mars to Earth at the start of the series) of an object much larger than anything the Earth or Jupiter has ever created. At the same time, Mars is taken over by this new force. To help try and figure out what's going on, the UEAF sends the Nadesico B and Captain Ruri Hoshino to the heart of the Federation's Boson Jumping network, Ameratsu colony. During the inspection, the colono receives a message that simply consists of the word "Otika" repeated over and over, but Ruri quickly deciphers it as "Akito" spelled backwards and realizes that an attack is imminent while her first officer has learned that the facility has had numerous but unauthorized additions made to the entire colony. Before they can learn more, the unknown enemy attacks. During the fighting, an Aestavalis of another unknown origin makes its way through to the heart of the colony. Ruri and the returning Ryoko Subaru (whose hair is now dark blue instead of green) follow this third party. Within the heart of the colony they learn that the Martian ruin that allows for Boson jumping has been moved from wherever it had been transported to at the end of the series into Ameratsu. And, embedded within the ruin, is Yurika who has seemingly turned to stone. At the same time, Ryoko quickly learns that the pilot of the black Aestavlis is none other than Akito who is now acting independently. At this same time, the force behind the initial attacks reveal themselves as the Martian Successors, a group composed of numerous Earthlings and Jovians, led by one of the Jovian commanders during the Great War, who seek to establish their own new order for the solar system. In order to stop the Martian Successors from achieving their goal, Ruri and her officers are commissioned to reunite the crew of the original Nadesico in order to pilot the Nadesico C to Mars while the UEAF protects the home front. But two years can change a lot of people as many of them have settled into their civilian lives and many may not wish to rejoin the crew. The question of why Akito has changed so much also comes to everyone's minds, but that is something only he can answer. I liked the pacing and the story overall but, as expected, there were more questions left unanswered than answered by the movie. Even things like how Yurika was captured in the first place and what happened to some of the characters to give them a change of heart from their original positions and stances from before- though I do applaud one Jovian character from the series' quest for redemption. The only other issue I had was with the anticlimactic climax and the incredibly sudden ending. The pacing that worked well so far up to that point falls apart because it felt like the movie had to make several constraints to meet either its budget or the set running time. Everything wraps up in literally less than five minutes. The other good part of the story was how it stayed true to the Nadesico formula, even if the overall tone was a little darker. Bits of humor and references to in-jokes within the series are scattered all over the place and the characters even break the fourth wall a few times, either with Ruri saying hello to the audience or the characters discussing the occurrence of a "convenient plot twist" 3/4 of the way through the movie. I can definitely say I'd have enjoyed it more if there was some way to understand what happened in the Saturn game. Even a DVD insert with a summary would have been better than nothing. CHARACTERS All of the major cast members from the TV series make their return in this movie, though some of them have more of a presence than others (I wanted more Megumi), but most of them are as likable as they ever have been because of the fact that they haven't changed a bit. In fact, the two characters who have undergone a personality overhaul are Akito and Ruri. Akito because his past experiences over the recent years have hardened his personality and made him into a person who is not afraid to seek after revenge. He explains that someone had done some experiments on his brain, but otherwise we know nothing. Ruri's changes come pretty much due to the fact that she's matured significantly over the past five years. She continues to remain calm and level-headed while her aptitude for calling people "baka" has reversed itself into a great sense of politeness- making her very popular in the process. Three new major characters are introduced as well: Ruri's navigations officer, Hari Makibi, a young ensign who is confident in his team's ability but stubborn in facing reality of what he can't accomplish. Ruri considers him his younger brother and it's more than obvious that he has a very innocent crush on her. Ruri's communications and combat officer, Saburota Takasugi, reigns champion as the series' biggest womanizer, even though he's a Jovian and expected to be fully respectful and gallant towards women. The final is a pink-haired girl named Lapis Lazuli who travels with Akito after he (most likely) rescued her from a research facility and has very similar abilities to Ruri, but hardly anything is learned about her and I can only assume she made her first appearance in the game. The other new characters are a group of antagonists who do covert operations for the Martian Successors and one is basically Akito's sworn enemy. While he has the appearance suited for a villain, he didn't have much presence to the point where I didn't even bother to remember his name. But because he's part of the final "climactic" battle, he at least deserves a mention. While the major characters are all as likable as ever, some of them weren't utilized well for anything to really contribute to the story. It was at least nice to see them again though because those moments provided some laughs. ART/ANIMATION When I detailed this section for the review of the series I mentioned that the art and animation style seemed to change based on the tone of the atmosphere and situation, being more bright and cheerful during light-hearted moments while being more dark and sharp during serious ones. The art is basically the latter style throughout the course of the whole movie, but some improvements have been made as well- namely some very impressive effects during boson jumps and a little bit of added detail to explosions other than being orange circles- but not too much. While it was overall very pleasing to watch, it seemed uncanny of how much cuter Ruri looks when seen at a 3/4 angle than head on. VOICE ACTING I can safely say that the acting in the movie is basically just as good as it was in the TV series because all of the same actors returned to reprise their roles. While some characters don't explore the same range of emotions that they did in the series, the performances were done well enough to easily be able to imagine how the characters would sound if they had to enter those emotional spectra again. The new characters also had actors who made them fit in just as well as everyone else. If I watch the movie again and in the English dub, it will be after I watch the dub of the TV series, but from looking at the credits it looked like those actors all reprised their original roles as well. MUSIC While the intro theme "You Get to Burning" from the TV series is what really made the music of it what I remember the most, I can definitely say that the soundtrack of the movie had a much better overall spread. All of the incidental music was orchestral based and utilized very well from beginning to end. It did its job in carrying the atmosphere and story along at various points admirably. The end credits had a slightly jazzy song to it, but it didn't stick out as much. SUMMARY The Nadesico movie is for people who have seen the series, fans of the franchise, and Ruri fans who wanted to see her beyond her loli stage in life. It was a fairly enjoyable watch, but the gaping plot holes that the game either introduced or answered make the story for audiences much harder to follow than those few who owned a Sega Saturn and the game. Despite the likable aspects, quality animation, and great score, I don't expect to be watching this on my own again anytime soon.This and other reviews can also be read at my blog: http://gunarmdyne.blogspot.com