There's not much to say about this OVA. It's an anime that tries to recreate a 70s-80s american action movie (a bad one), and for the most part it does a pretty good job.
Story: Well, there's just enough story to justify the action scenes. Basically a boy and a girl discover some UFO fragment and they're chased by government agents who try to recover it.
Characters: There's no character development. After watching it I can't even remember the names of the main characters. There's not a single moment where you might actually feel something for them.
Art: For the most part it's okay (keep in mind
that it's an anime made in the 80s). The only problem that I had was with the shading style witch was horribly done.
Sound: The whole movie has just 3 or 4 tracks. They're the same type of songs you'll find in old action movies. Some of them are pretty good, they fit the mood of the story well. They're definitely the best part of this anime.
So, if you're bored (like I was) and have nothing better to do, you might wanna give it a try. The whole thing's about 45min long and it will keep you interested till the end.
Not too many anime dive into cultures beyond that of Japan's, especially in the particular setting of California. I've only run into one other relation of anime to California in the first part of the triple-feature "Memories". It was a brief nod to the state's existence that wasn't at all necessary, but led to an interesting vision that some people of Japan at the time might have had of California. "Memories" was released in the mid-90's, while California Crisis was released in the mid-80's. These two, nearly forty-minute, shorts are a decade apart yet present California in an interestingly similar light. It makes it seem
as the hot-spot to be, and it may be possible that there was some relation to reality in that perspective in Japan. California Crisis shows the state of California as a place where people are able and willing to search out their dreams and where all can find ways of life that they can properly enjoy. It also shows a lot of scenery of cloud-less skies, beaches, expensive cars, and especially palm trees. It's a slightly exaggerated look at the past of California that can be relatable to what one might see painted on the walls of their local In-N-Out. I, myself, live in California and I wouldn't say how it is shown here is particularly off. There are a lot of elements that are more-or-less correctly portrayed, along with a number of iconic things to the pop-culture around the time (such as a movie poster of the release of a Rocky film). It also accurately shows the contrast of man-made planted areas to the barren Nevada desert. It should also be noted that California Crisis doesn't only try to capture the setting of California, but a bit of the film style of western movies at the time. A lot of Japanese anime tropes are omitted, and it makes the experience of the culture feel more genuine.
The art style is noticeably something made in the 80's, yet there's something partly unique about it aswell. The shading of the art has blatant line-work drawn at its edges which brings a style that looks somewhat like work-in-progress, colored line-works before they were to have been moved to the final copy. It can be distracting at the start, but it managed to make things more interesting after getting used to it. It would certainly be understandable that some people will be turned off by this aspect alone. When also considering California Crisis' detachment to much of anime's tropes, however, there's already a degree of things to get used to that might make the art style feel more justified and tolerable. It's possible that it's actually a common style for the earlier 80's, as I haven't seen to much of it, but I haven't run into anything like it 'til now. There's a decent amount of animation in the OVA and not too many moments with stills, yet the animation itself is a bit wonky at times in how much motion occurs coincided with the slightly lacking amount of frames that are there. This slightly brings in the feeling of a slideshow in how there will be noticeable gaps in the motion for how far the movement occurred. It's a similar animation style to "Golgo 13: The Professional". There are still great moments in California Crisis though that look very impressive. Even more so, the consistent detail of the frames makes the issue more forgivable. It's a pleasure to see the characters, and many other elements, being presented at a consistently high quality for the entire length of the OVA. Another thing that was a pleasure to see was an unexpected "Black Lagoon" moment in part of the action.
The sound was lacking in that it left some moments where the environment felt empty and too much like plain artwork. Again, however, that fluctuates with great examples at certain times that overshadow those others. The silence may also be forgiven in that the setting for much of the OVA is in a desert, but it should be noted nonetheless. Beyond sound effects, the music and voice-work are good. The voices have no issues whatsoever and are done well, while the soundtrack is what you would expect for the time along with featuring some attempted reiterations of music one might find in the 80's of California. There is no direct song taken from the American side of things and all are done in Japanese vocals, but one song in particular felt like a very close rendition of a popular song that I just couldn't remember off the top of my head. Much of it wasn't too memorable, but the song "Streets are Hot" got to me after listening to it a bit more afterwards. Overall, the sound did add to the experience and made it feel even more western at times.
As the staff seemed to have been going for something more genuine in what they envisioned of California, the story itself was also something that could have worked as a cheap, western, adventurer flick in the states (likely minus the attempted lolita action). The story and style of California Crisis actually reminded me a lot of the 1984 movie "Night of the Comet" which was filmed in California. California Crisis carried more in connection to that movie than to anime in my eyes, while still having the tad exaggerated view of things along with the animated action. The story is of a young guy and girl finding a classified item of the military and trying to to keep it for themselves while also having a destination in mind for it. It's mainly a fun adventure, but there is a bit of action. For those who are seeking out action, however, don't take this OVA as one with plenty of it. The action in this OVA generally involves cars and car chases. The tone is also not particularly serious, but the characters do act somewhat accordingly to the spot they're in. The characters are actually another large part of the enjoyment of the OVA as they contrast very much to a number of characters in anime who don't have that much natural self-confidence. These characters have standards, a bit of a personality, and surely confidence in who they are. They're also a bit smart in how they handle things (beyond all of the drinking and driving that occurs), the justification for when they want to keep going on a dangerous route being that they realize the danger, but prioritize the thrill. These characters are a tad memorable because of this.
The strengths of California Crisis is more its originality in the anime world and its characterizations. The story is enjoyable, but would be more average if it was a western Hollywood movie, near the time this was released. A fundamental part of the mystery of it is also never explained, but I honestly was more interested in the characters and the setting which made that not bother me as much. The fate of the two characters preceding this whole journey are also not properly explained, but can be assumed or interpreted from the credits. There's definitely a niche audience for this OVA as it's priorities aren't much in tune with what many people seem to enjoy the most about anime. Even so, it was unique and enjoyable and really makes me wish there was more anime set in California. It was also a pleasure to see my hometown make it in and see a bit of the visualized history of it from a perspective in Japan. Those who appreciate culture and originality, while simultaneously being tolerable to older animation and sound-design, will likely find California Crisis satisfying.
We finally learn the girl's name after 18 minutes, more than a third of the way in. Not that the main characters' names matter anyway, nor does the plot nor the characters' backgrounds nor really any of the specifics. In this way, California Crisis reminds me of Monte Hellman's sun-baked road movie classic, Two-Lane Blacktop; that is, there is a story, one about a road trip, but that story also happens to be the aspect of least interest. Forget the story, and the focus is now what is being presented on screen. You've got the really striking art style reminscent of Patrick Nagel, with its
bold colour palette on clean yet detailed line art and two-tone shading that gives a strong sense of directional lighting; the wonderfully '80s boogie soundtrack delivered by city pop singer Miho Fujiwara; the '80s Hollywood movie staples of SoCal, dive bars, diners, and car chases.
But even looking at the plot, certain familiar threads pop up, like the optimistic sci-fi elements tying outer space to the domestic life (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was also released in 1986) or the highly idealized sexual freedom of American women (think of all those provocative coming-of-age sex comedies the '80s is known for). Yet at the core of California Crisis is a novelly foreign critique of the American Dream. Here we have Noera, the male protagonist who claims he cares about his job, his car, his wallet, etc. but whose actions say otherwise; he is barely coerced by a complete stranger to take a road trip to Death Valley and during said trip ends up totaling two cars on unpaid loans. There is no hesitance in this adventure, the brakes never pulled to sit and wonder what the point of it all is, only the impulse to move forward to the next leg. Reflected is an attitude that pervaded America's, and Japan's, economic prospects of the time. During a reunion scene between Noera and his old classmate Jack Varo, his friend unwittingly sums up the mood of the trickle-down era while reminiscing about their high school basketball days: "Those times were great, weren't they? We all just did what we wanted." Still, California Crisis is even more explicit. The trip to Death Valley is initially decided on a whim when, after receiving a vision from the mysterious orb at the diner, Marsha dazedly blurts "American Dream" out of the blue. This tenuous association, along with Marsha's suspicious lack of a past, gives the impression that she's running from, or towards, something. But their arrival at Death Valley is met with a final car chase, after which they end up breaking the "Space Mind" after falling into a river. What's left is a transparent glass ball leaking river water. And then the OVA abruptly ends, their journey as fruitless as the American Dream.
California Crisis is a document of what director Mizuho Nishikubo and his production team saw and felt on their location scouting trip to California. The sum total is a time capsule of a certain era of American pop culture, which is a bit odd coming from a Japanese animation, but the accuracy is undeniable. There's a chase scene set to a neon-lit night club performance whose storyboard could have been taken straight out of a classic '80s action movie (I'm thinking Beverly Hills Cop?). Captured is not just the decade's aesthetic but also the dead-ends of its materialism. And how fitting for this idiosyncratic, Western-facing production, which could only have been born out of the '80s anime boom from a studio that almost immediately went out of business.
This 45 minute OVA right here is the most American thing I've ever seen in anime. It's so inconceivably silly. It's like watching a 80s Hollywood action movie with no plot but it's one thing it did right and boy I have an entertaining time watching this one.
So some Alien's object has been stolen by the Russian. It happens to be held by 2 civilian after a trailer's accident. Now the US government has to sent troops out to retrieve the object. That leads to some hilarious and exciting action sequences that fill the runtime of this OVA.
There's really not much I can say
about this. See it for yourself, the 80s is really something else in term of entertainment.