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Arjuna - Journey (Vol. 2)

Arjuna - Journey (Vol. 2)

List Price: $29.98
Your Price: $26.98
Product Info Reviews

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Rating: 5 stars
Summary: A great story related on an imaginative canvas
Review: Anime (as film) is a work of art that tells a story. As we all learn with age, there is an infinite variety of ways in which a story can be told. Remember that an animation artist struggles to be creative and to convey his, or her, ideas in the most captivating manner. An artist does not deliberately negotiate his work with the intent of producing an unappealing result in the end. There is a lot of personal effort that goes into the act of creation. Arjuna happens to be one of the best combinations of story and creative animation. The entire series deserves six stars!

Rating: 5 stars
Summary: A great story related on an imaginative canvas
Review: I am growing plenty sick of US distributors pumping out this evangelion-inspired garbage lacking in originality with hideous design choices and gratuitous use of ugly CG. Just say no.

Rating: 1 stars
Summary: Derivative
Review: I am growing plenty sick of US distributors pumping out this evangelion-inspired garbage lacking in originality with hideous design choices and gratuitous use of ugly CG. Just say no.

Rating: 4 stars
Summary: Environmental Science Fiction Takes a Step Beyond
Review: In the Arjuna universe, the creatures known as the Raaja have an unearthly, translucent quality and seem to be "poisonous" to touch, reminiscent of the beasts in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Also similar to the Final Fantasy movie, the concept of the Earth Spirit permeates the Arjuna series and Juna is forced to examine her motivations for fighting the Raaja. Are they part of the Earth or an enemy to be eliminated? The cryptic directions of her mentor Chris and the S.E.E.D. agency do not offer clear answers, but only create new questions. Juna must discover meaning herself as she develops in her role as the "Avatar of Time."

Juna experiences the epiphanies of a city girl suddenly immersed in the wildlife of the Japan Alps. The typical elements of a Buddhist belief system are easily identified, as she confronts the need to unlearn the categories of good and evil while cultivating an attunement with nature. The music of Yoko Kanno provides an ethereal acoustic backdrop for Juna's explorations and interweaves the unique rhythmic style found in the Cowboy Bebop sessions.

Overt environmental themes are forced at times and do not always flow from scene to scene. Detailed explanations of modern crop production, including the destructive impact of fertilizers and pesticides abound. The technique of blending actual film footage of farm machinery and pollution is also typical. These vignettes are combined with quoted environmental statistics, giving the story a directed message about man's sloth as it relates to the mass production of food. References to popular fast foods also appear, including a close-up of the pink, fatty insides of a "Meriken Burger," promptly followed by a montage of emaciated cattle, steroid capsules and automated meat presses. Even a popular Japanese health drink "Appare Genki" does not fare better and the virtues of pure organic farming are solidly promoted.

In spite of the forced aspect of some of the plot threads, the characters make the story enjoyable and unique. Juna is a very likeable "girl next door" and reacts understandably to the exotic new realm in which she lives. Tokio Oshima, Juna's devoted boyfriend, often plays the role of skeptic, but works hard to deepen their relationship and accept Juna's new identity. Juna's romance with Tokio is strained by her agonizing visions of the Earth's destruction. Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she must balance a wildly fantastic, mystical role with the everyday struggles of a modern teen.

Juna's interactions with Chris twist her environment further as only she and Chris can directly see the Raaja without specialized equipment. Cindy, the sarcastic and precocious interpreter of Chris, would certainly meet J.D. Salinger's approval and reveals a little more about her past before S.E.E.D.

The character drawings are realistically proportioned and are believable. Vivid computer animation effects are also utilized, producing some innovative layered texture effects and also the Raaja animation. Overall, Arjuna - Journey (Volume 2) is a solid anime that contains enough artistic detail, character development and exotic content to interest the majority of Western anime viewers. Those who enjoy Escaflowne and Evangelion should not miss this release!

Rating: 4 stars
Summary: Environmental Science Fiction Takes a Step Beyond
Review: In the Arjuna universe, the creatures known as the Raaja have an unearthly, translucent quality and seem to be "poisonous" to touch, reminiscent of the beasts in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Also similar to the Final Fantasy movie, the concept of the Earth Spirit permeates the Arjuna series and Juna is forced to examine her motivations for fighting the Raaja. Are they part of the Earth or an enemy to be eliminated? The cryptic directions of her mentor Chris and the S.E.E.D. agency do not offer clear answers, but only create new questions. Juna must discover meaning herself as she develops in her role as the "Avatar of Time."

Juna experiences the epiphanies of a city girl suddenly immersed in the wildlife of the Japan Alps. The typical elements of a Buddhist belief system are easily identified, as she confronts the need to unlearn the categories of good and evil while cultivating an attunement with nature. The music of Yoko Kanno provides an ethereal acoustic backdrop for Juna's explorations and interweaves the unique rhythmic style found in the Cowboy Bebop sessions.

Overt environmental themes are forced at times and do not always flow from scene to scene. Detailed explanations of modern crop production, including the destructive impact of fertilizers and pesticides abound. The technique of blending actual film footage of farm machinery and pollution is also typical. These vignettes are combined with quoted environmental statistics, giving the story a directed message about man's sloth as it relates to the mass production of food. References to popular fast foods also appear, including a close-up of the pink, fatty insides of a "Meriken Burger," promptly followed by a montage of emaciated cattle, steroid capsules and automated meat presses. Even a popular Japanese health drink "Appare Genki" does not fare better and the virtues of pure organic farming are solidly promoted.

In spite of the forced aspect of some of the plot threads, the characters make the story enjoyable and unique. Juna is a very likeable "girl next door" and reacts understandably to the exotic new realm in which she lives. Tokio Oshima, Juna's devoted boyfriend, often plays the role of skeptic, but works hard to deepen their relationship and accept Juna's new identity. Juna's romance with Tokio is strained by her agonizing visions of the Earth's destruction. Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she must balance a wildly fantastic, mystical role with the everyday struggles of a modern teen.

Juna's interactions with Chris twist her environment further as only she and Chris can directly see the Raaja without specialized equipment. Cindy, the sarcastic and precocious interpreter of Chris, would certainly meet J.D. Salinger's approval and reveals a little more about her past before S.E.E.D.

The character drawings are realistically proportioned and are believable. Vivid computer animation effects are also utilized, producing some innovative layered texture effects and also the Raaja animation. Overall, Arjuna - Journey (Volume 2) is a solid anime that contains enough artistic detail, character development and exotic content to interest the majority of Western anime viewers. Those who enjoy Escaflowne and Evangelion should not miss this release!

Rating: 5 stars
Summary: Escaflowne and Digimon fans get a bonus!
Review: In the background of the interview with Sh˘ji Kawamori filmed at Anime Expo 2002, you'll see someone in costume as Merle from Escaflowne and someone in costume as Renamon from Digimon Tamers. This is a nice, unexpected bonus.

Overall, if you enjoyed volume 1 of Arjuna, you'll enjoy volume 2 even more.

Rating: 5 stars
Summary: Escaflowne and Digimon fans get a bonus!
Review: In the background of the interview with Sh˘ji Kawamori filmed at Anime Expo 2002, you'll see someone in costume as Merle from Escaflowne and someone in costume as Renamon from Digimon Tamers. This is a nice, unexpected bonus.

Overall, if you enjoyed volume 1 of Arjuna, you'll enjoy volume 2 even more.

Rating: 4 stars
Summary: "Why do you always want to kill?"
Review: This set of episodes comes very much as a surprise after the first DVD. There we are presented with what appears to be an action drama with a strong ecological message. There we see Juna's accident, her rescue, and her assuming the avatar of Arjuna, the great bowman. She fights the raaja that threaten her, is yelled at by nearly everyone, and has a thorny relationship with Tokio. All the stuff of which a good series can be made.

In this set, the emphasis has shifted to an introspective focus on the relationship between the spiritual and the ecological. This is fun, but the pace slows down considerably in the process. The concepts are aimed at an intelligent audience. I don't think this is bad, but many in its stated audience may find it a bit perplexing. So a warning - the price of enjoying this series includes having to think about what it is saying.

This set of episodes tells of Juna's rising consciousness of the natural world and her relationship to it. When Chris, the world's other great telepath, despairs of Juna making the leap, he leaves her on a mountain to learn to survive - or die. Tokio manages to track her down and they come to the house of an old man who has much to teach. Juna's mind expands gradually but painfully.

Back in the city, Juna must try to rescue Tokio from a deadly infection that menaces her as well. Juna's relationship with the boy is full of conflict now that her life has been changed. Tokio's own frustration had having a girlfriend who is suddenly opposed to all the foods and lifestyle that he loves makes things even more complicated. The crisis comes when Chris's health, always frail seems to fail completely.

The viewer is left with more questions than answers. But this is the time in a series when that is to be expected. There is no lack of filmic invention and artwork in this series, and Yoko Kanno's music is notable. My one cavil is that it goes to too much length on its subject, which completely distracts from character development and the shibboleth of a good plot. I noted on the cover that this is the 'extended' edition, and almost immediately wished that they had stayed with the TV version. I hope that this is a phase the series is going through until its ideas are clear. On the other hand, if you are looking for a series that is ecologically oriented, this is the one to buy.

Rating: 4 stars
Summary: "Why do you always want to kill?"
Review: This set of episodes comes very much as a surprise after the first DVD. There we are presented with what appears to be an action drama with a strong ecological message. There we see Juna's accident, her rescue, and her assuming the avatar of Arjuna, the great bowman. She fights the raaja that threaten her, is yelled at by nearly everyone, and has a thorny relationship with Tokio. All the stuff of which a good series can be made.

In this set, the emphasis has shifted to an introspective focus on the relationship between the spiritual and the ecological. This is fun, but the pace slows down considerably in the process. The concepts are aimed at an intelligent audience. I don't think this is bad, but many in its stated audience may find it a bit perplexing. So a warning - the price of enjoying this series includes having to think about what it is saying.

This set of episodes tells of Juna's rising consciousness of the natural world and her relationship to it. When Chris, the world's other great telepath, despairs of Juna making the leap, he leaves her on a mountain to learn to survive - or die. Tokio manages to track her down and they come to the house of an old man who has much to teach. Juna's mind expands gradually but painfully.

Back in the city, Juna must try to rescue Tokio from a deadly infection that menaces her as well. Juna's relationship with the boy is full of conflict now that her life has been changed. Tokio's own frustration had having a girlfriend who is suddenly opposed to all the foods and lifestyle that he loves makes things even more complicated. The crisis comes when Chris's health, always frail seems to fail completely.

The viewer is left with more questions than answers. But this is the time in a series when that is to be expected. There is no lack of filmic invention and artwork in this series, and Yoko Kanno's music is notable. My one cavil is that it goes to too much length on its subject, which completely distracts from character development and the shibboleth of a good plot. I noted on the cover that this is the 'extended' edition, and almost immediately wished that they had stayed with the TV version. I hope that this is a phase the series is going through until its ideas are clear. On the other hand, if you are looking for a series that is ecologically oriented, this is the one to buy.


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