In the year 2099, mankind has colonized parts of the Solar System thanks to the evolution of space travel. To venture further beyond what man has accomplished, the space vessel Starlight is launched. After rescuing a mysterious girl from a wreckage near the asteroid fields, the crew of the Starlight plot a perilous journey towards the Canopus system in search of the planet known only as "Odin" - the possible key to all forms of life.
Odin: Photon Space Sailer Starlight (also known as Odin: Starlight Mutiny) is not simply a dated, clumsy or overambitious film. It’s not just a bad film either. Such meager achievements wouldn’t justify its reputation as one of the worst, expensive fuck ups in history of anime features.
Odin is a *horrible* film in which pretty much anything that can go wrong in a big budget megaproduction goes wrong. It’s meandering, nonsensical, boring and doesn’t even see its own (meandering nonsensical and boring) story to end because the film was planned as part of trilogy. If you make it through Odin’s painful 2+ hours of incompetent filmmaking - and get to witness majestic band Loudness in flesh as a reward – you’re no wiser than the characters about what the point of it all was.
The film has the coherence and firm grip on its course you’d expect from torturous project that went through writers and directors quicker than pixiv churns out porn of new anime titles. Most glaring fault in the film’s directing would be the epidemic problems with pacing and allocating time. To put it simply pretty much everything in the film takes much more time than needed and the focus given to things that don’t ultimately matter - for example endless panning shots of the titular Starlight space vessel and the fetishistic obsession with characters tweaking and pushing the buttons and knobs of the ship – would be hilarious if it wasn’t so dreadfully dull.
The beginning of the film illustrates this well: the film starts with romantically tinged glorification of mankind’s conquest of seas and exploration culminating in the old metaphor of space being the new unknown sea for us to explore – it also serves as a crash course to the space technology of the setting. Now there’s nothing wrong with such old school introduction in principle – it’s just that in Odin’s case it manages to drag on for *over seven minutes* and it’s used to clumsily explain the world instead of revealing these facts gradually through the actual narrative. Everyone loves infodumps!
After the clumsy infodump finally ends the grand tale finally starts – and with “starts” I mean: masterpiece by cheesy 80s metal band Loudness starts to play and clearly inspired by its chest hair growing manlyness the ship crew proceed to run, jog and hop through endless corridors high-fiving each other. They drool at Starlight, scream, run some more, board Starlight, jog and hop some more, situate themselves at command desks and then proceed to tweak and touch the buttons of the ship with disturbing passion while metal gods bless their every move with heavenly chords. Cue all too many cuts of the “Space Sailer” Starlight from every angle imaginable thrown in for good measure. Needless to say this piece of editing and storytelling prowess lasts through the entire damn song and has pretty much no relevance for the story.
(What do you mean the film was obviously obligated to promote the band? It’s not like out of place Loudness music is everywhere over the film, no sir! )
With the new crew members comfortable with the ship and after meeting the veteran officers we can get into the next sequence: a painfully overlong launch as Starlight starts its virgin journey. Cue a ton of flashy lights – the ship interiors occasionally resembles disco more than anything else – and knob pushing button tweaking keyboard smashing dreadfulness where nothing actually happens apart from film’s clear intent to fetishize this piece of technological marvel that happens to look like old sailing ship from 18th Century IN SPACE.
Afterwards we get one more crew member introduced in incredibly illogical and shoddy fashion and distress call from asteroid field Starlight decides to answer. Cue, you guessed it, another bout of knob pushing button tweaking keyboard smashing dreadfulness as the brave heroes “speed” to help.
Oh look, a plot finally appeared around 30 minutes mark! (nevertheless it takes another 30 minutes for the search for Odin to actually start!)
I think I’ve made my point by now. What follows from thereon gets increasingly stupid, increasingly illogical and increasingly annoying as the film sleepwalks in snail pace towards its end. A woman who babbles on about this planet “Odin” thanks to her headache/orgasm powers gets saved, hugeass monstrous AI ship is found from asteroid field before it blows up for no adequately explained reason, Loudness inspired idiocy keeps on happening, yadda yadda. The film’s storyline is complete wreck and increasingly full of erratic character behaviour and holes in storytelling. A halfway decent final fight occurs before it becomes clear it was just a setup for the “real” (anticlimatic) final fight. Odin lives up to its spirit of dragging things on and misallocating time till the very end!
But that’s enough about the “plot”. If you hoped the characters can redeem this wreck there’s only bad news. The cast is huge but ultimately there are only three characters: young gun (new crew), old salt (cap and boatswain) and the walking plot device (headache girl). The characterization is some of the thinnest you can find and the few attempts at any sort of character development are incredibly clumsy and in the end meaningless. The dramatic death scenes also fall short because no one has given a reason for the audience to care. As if characterization being nonexistent wasn’t bad enough way too often the actions some characters take make absolutely no sense given what (little) we know about them.
The most memorable “character” in the film is a vision of a guy named Asgard who is apparently king of “Odin” – and the sole claim for memorability he has is the hilarious way Japanese creators got the Norse mythology backwards with Asgard being a person and Odin a place.
The sole graces Odin has are high animation quality and some good mechanical designs. I’m quite fond of Starlight’s pulp SF look in particular and the animation doesn’t look too bad next to its highly appraised contemporaries Nausicaä and Macross: Do You Remember Love? - this isn’t surprising because while talented creative leaders apparently weren’t around the budget was clearly high.
Unfortunately even the visuals are rife with problems. The sheer dullness of character designs aside Odin features some of the most disgusting and dated 80s video effects imaginable. The blaring lights do their best obscure and shit on many otherwise decently framed shots and scenes. Starlight’s knob pushing button tweaking sequences are particularly painful to watch and the lighting effects really screw over one fight scene. Worst of all the otherwise fine design for Starlight gets covered in these effects most of the time and thus the ship’s nice design is more often than not wasted under goofy old SFX.
Always-unfitting-but-at-least-not-boring Loudness aside there’s not much to say about the sound. Score and effects are quite dull and it’s hard to say how much about acting is bad in itself and how much the problems in delivery simply stem from script that is occasionally so garbage there’s no way you can deliver the lines properly.
So, are there any reasons to watch this sad wreck already almost forgotten by history? If you have ability to derive entertainment from over the top bad anime you may find Odin a enjoyable watch with its weird storytelling and directing incompetence. Otherwise you should stay away from this overlong, turgid exercise in failure.
Best part of Odin: Photon Space Sailer Starlight is unquestionably the ending credits. For one it means the agony is finally over, secondly seeing real footage of Loudness performing is more entertaining than anything in the film proper. Aside from Loudness songs, that is.
This movie cost a huge amount to make and it shows... if you watch the proper 42 mins longer version which is sadly only available subbed. It gets panned by anime viewers but I can only assume most of them have only seen the dub. Odin was planned as the first in a trilogy so there are questions left unanswered, but considering this the film feels very self contained apart from one strand.
(please do let me know yours feelings about this review via private message!)
WHY THE 2 HOURS 19 MINUTES VERSION IS WONDROUS
The film starts off with a sequence that sets the tone for the whole movie. This is a film about exploration and discovering the unknown. This is a film about the excitement and significance of being an explorer. (there is then a long scene where people run a lot which you'll just kinda have to accept is going to take the duration of a whole song to do :P) Space anime reliably leaves me cold, but this was an exception.
The music is mostly by some japanese glam rock band who have a great theme tune called Searching For Odin. The music really adds a sense of dramaticness to the proceedings which is just perfect.
The visuals are where this film really shines – they make the ship stunning and the things that are discovered really interesting because plenty of care has gone into making their design wondrous.
Anyway, this film is an experience. It has a plot which has some good twists and turns, and you very much feel like you're one of the crew members experiencing everything as they are, with the same sense of being in the dark and discovering things for the first time ever as they have. The slow pace really helps build up the excitement of these things and the pay off is usually well worth the wait and made all the sweeter by it as you go through the emotions of anticipation and unknowing along with the rest of the crew.
Characterisation is this film's weakest point. In the rare instances there is characterisation, it's cliched. It's a good thing this film isn't about the characters but rather the voyage.
The end credits are the most entertaining end credits I've ever seen. By miles. I won't spoil it but wow it pays off the whole film so well in such an unexpected and hilarious way.
There is one element which is totally not sufficiently explained and I can only presume was intended to be explained in the sequels that never were... but whatever. I love this film, it is really really unique. There's a lot of people pushing buttons, which sounds boring but it somehow pulls it off because you know that every push of a button gets you closer to finding out more.
WHY THE 97 MINUTE DUB IS AN ABOMINATION
I just watched this version expecting a more punchy version of this fantastic film. I can only presume that whoever is behind this dub hated the original because they've changed the film so much.
The voices are actually pretty good compared to the original for the most part, and dialogue has been made better... sort of. But the film never takes a breath or any time to build up – all such things have been purged. FORTY TWO WHOLE MINUTES WERE REMOVED. The dialogue which they have is sometimes more engaging in the moment but makes you more disconnected from what's going on because the dialogue bits were never intended to be the focus of the film so when squished together they often just feel a bit disjointed, sudden and distracting to the plot.
The new more engaging dialogue is easier to understand and makes everything a lot more clear which would usually be a great thing and I understand why they did it, but for some reason it feels like it robs one of the experience of being on a historically significant voyage where no one is too sure of anything. I love things being spelled out so it's cool to have the dub doing that, but it just steals from the experience of the film. This film was about 'what will they do next?' but it has been changed to making the viewer ask 'what happens next?' I know it sounds like an insignificant distinction, but in the original you really feel yourself as part of the crew and you're as in the dark as everyone else as to what's going on or what will happen next. In the dub things move along at quite a rate so you're never left wondering anything coz it never gives you time to think. This film is now about experiencing the plot and people's interactions rather than the experience of a voyage, so in this new form it fails because it was not designed this way
The once incredible visual effects this time left me flat in this because of the lack of build up, which was a big surprise to me. From what I can tell they came up with new sound effects, which also contributed to the visuals seeming rubbish because the sound effects were brash and over the top.
I did not enjoy the dub. It was a weak, confusing and boring film. It somehow managed to even take the visuals and make them not work. read more