I just watched the first episode of Uninhabited Planet Survive and I’ve got to say, it was incredibly awkward. Various elements just felt off. In spite of the story and episode both being totally generic, this has it’s own reasons for being unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
I’d like to start with the first thing that cought my attention, which was the camera work. I know not whether people are aware of this, but an anime does involve a photographer (see Otaku no Video for one in action) and he does have a part in things. In one edition of Anime News Network’s ‘Buried Treasuer/Garbage‘ column, Justin brought up a series of pitifully produced Chinese ‘anime’ that he provided hilarious video clips from. Justin mentions how in some shows, the cameraman would zoom in and out to make things appear animated when they weren’t. I’ve encountered this before in a stop-motion lego video that would have been awesome if the animator hadn’t kept using this shitty trick to dire results.
Now, this isn’t what I’m accusing UPS (lol) of, but there is definitely a noticeable cameraman presence. This is first seen in the op where it ends with the main character girl looking out to see and the camera is shaking. Right here, it actually looks pretty cool, since it simulates almost the effect of a camcorder. However, at other part of the episode, there is some definite camera zooming that left me scratching my head. There was also a scene where the main girl was walking down the road and the camera was sort of like her perspective on the person in front of them, only the camera was swaying. I swear to god, it looked like they were trying to get the effect of a steadicam. This just felt incredibly awkward. Other parts were less notable but still there.
There was also the issue of every shot looking incredibly closed in. That, however, I would like to attribute to the lack of widescreen. This show really needs widescreen.
Anyway, I take you to article two, which is some outrageously shitty voice acting. The cast is mostly inexperienced with the exception of a few vets (whose presences were notable.) By far the worst voice was the main character girl’s new best friend character. Her name was Sharla, and she sounded WAY older than she was. Her voice was totally flat most of the time except in one scene where she heavily overacts certain lines. It was the absolute epitome of shitty acting. Then there was the badass bishounen guy who I expected to sound like Sasuke or something an he opens his mouth with another awkward and strangely dorky voice. It was perplexing and affronting. A glance at the ANN link above shows the horrible Sharla actor appears in absolutely NO other anime (and rightfully so.)
Then we get to the script, which was mostly generic with brief bits of what the hell?! The best example would be where the main character says something to the effect of ‘wow, class on the Earth, I can’t wait!’ and Sharla replies ‘Really? I’d rather go to an amusement park.’ O…kay. There was another part where the main girl runs to save Sharla from a fire and a kid is yelling ‘Don’t do it! It’s impossible!’ despite having no idea what she is actually planning to do. I wish I could blame the translation, but my understanding of Japanese leads me to believe these were fine.
Even the show’s colors just look strange. Somehow, all of the colors look really striking in a negative way. It’s much in the vein of Bakugan Battle Brawlers or other similar kids shows, particularly American ones that imitate an anime style.
I’m even confused about the show’s plot! We learn very little in the first episode, and we don’t even get anywhere near to this uninhabited planet that will apparently involve surviving. The show is sci-fi, but only as a backdrop. The first episode was giving off massive mahou shoujo vibes with it’s setup, and it also looked like it was headed for an Infinite Ryvius kind of thing, but as mentioned, we really get absolutely nowhere. I can’t even start to point to where this is all going.
The show was produced by Madhouse in collaboration with Telecom Animation Film who seems to have had their hands in a number of reputable productions. The director, Yuichiro Yano, seems to work directly for Telecom and his only other directing job is the excellent sleeper-hit Moyashimon. Script-writer Shoji Yonemura is all over the place – he’s done a lot of kids shows like UPS such as Pokemon and Digimon, but also did Berserk (which has shitty writing) but then Death Note and Figure 17 which have fine scripts… most of the other team members seem to be more Telecom members, so if there’s someone to blame, it’s Telecom as a whole. I’m not entirely sure why or how this show turned out to be such a weird result, but it just is.