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Martian Successor Nadesico: Prince of Darkness
Kidô Senkan Nadesico: Prince of Darkness is a completely new adventure, with an original plot, new mecha and new character designs, but if you hoped that the movie would tie up all the loose ends, you're out of luck - Prince of Darkness takes place 5 years after the last episode of the Nadesico TV series. Needless to say, quite a lot has happened in the intervening half-decade, only some of which is shown as flashbacks throughout the roughly 90 minutes of movie.
The main story deals with the "Hisago Plan," at least part of which involves the creation of human made warpgates to link a number of newly built space colonies together. In the great space opera tradition, the colony governments are not all that friendly with the Earth Federation, however they grudgingly accept an inspection by the Nadesico B. Commanded now by a 16 year old Ruri, the Nadesico is called in to investigate a series of attacks on Hisago Plan colonies by some unknown force. Since the Jovians and the Earthlings are holding to their cease-fire, no one seems to know who's responsible.
Soon enough, however, the culprits manifest themselves. The perpetrators of the attacks are a group called the "Martian Successors" - an idealistic group composed of both high-ranking Earth and Jovian military, political and scientific personnel. When the Successors claim that they will forge a just and chaste new order, and then destroy one of the colonies, it becomes apparent that they are a serious threat. On top of that, they have ties to both Earth's and Jupiter's governments, as well as a coalition of Anti-Nergal corporations.
As the situation becomes more critical, Nergal decides to use the newly completed Nadesico C. Harry, Ruri's aide, is sent on a dangerous mission to the moon to prep the new ship, while Ruri, Prospector and others at Nergal go about collecting the original Nadesico crew for one more mission. Needless to say, all the old faces appear once more, except for Akito and Yurika, who are assumed dead - killed when their shuttle was ambushed and destroyed years before. However, as we have all seen, nothing in Nadesico is final, and several mysteries are explained by the end of the film. Among these are the whereabouts and functionality of the "artifact" (wait until the final TV episode, you'll know what I mean) as well as the fate of those who should have died in the shuttle accident.
There are very few new characters in the movie. One is Harry, Ruri's aide onboard the Nadesico B and Nadesico C. Harry is quite young, and a bit of a crybaby, but with a bit of coaching he proves that he has what it takes. The other major new character is a girl named Lapis, who works for the Successors. Possessor of the same type of past as Ruri, Lapis is something of a mystery.
The main difference in the characters is not in who they are, but rather how they look - the characters have actually aged with time, with an end result is similar to the change in the characters in Shin Kimagure Orange Road: Summer's Beginning or Tenchi Muyô in Love 2. However, unlike the minimalist styles of those two flicks, the new designs for Prince of Darkness are extremely lush and believable. Keiji Goto's beautiful designs are like a fine wine, and only improve with age.
One of Nadesico's strengths is the level of its technical animation. Prince of Darkness boasts a level of technical animation so high that it is impossible to imagine anything ever surpassing it. Everything from the smallest plants, to the people, buildings, mecha and battleships are given equal treatment. All movement is swift and fluid, and there is only a minimal use of annoying CG. One of the most amazing feats is that the backgrounds and foregrounds actually look like they are in the same plane. There is no coloring difference between them, and their detail levels are also equal. The end result is a movie that actually brings the viewer close to sensory overload.
There are completely new mecha designs for the movie, and if you can actually manage to get a look at them - they go by really quickly - they are spectacular. The new designs keep the feel of the TV series' mecha, while improving on their overall aesthetics. The same goes for ships, colonies, spacesuits and everything and anything else you can think of.
Overall, Prince of Darkness is a worthy successor to the Nadesico TV series. Compared to the TV series, the movie is darker in tone - there is a lot more tension, angst and downright hostility in this story. The Successors' ambitions, combined with their physical and mental mistreatment of others, make them an enemy far more odious than any previously encountered. But there are still humorous moments, such as the children's amusement park based on the Hisago Plan, and Akatsuke and the Howmei Girls' surprise concert. Strangely enough, except for one well-placed comment by Ryoko, there is no mention of Gekiganger 3 anywhere.
The maturity of the story as a whole is a complete level above previous Nadesico fare; it looks like the characters weren't the only things that were made more mature for the movie.