In the 26th century, humans discover a humanoid race living on the distant world GO/7498/2, a dark-skinned, golden-eyed people who seem to eke out a primitive, carefree existence. However, a scout team from Earth discovers that there is more to them than meets the eye--they live in symbiosis with vicious reptilian parasites, and the Terran scientists have upset the delicate natural balance.
After 180 years of discovering nothing but Terran artefacts, the Hartz Bouken Corporation found significant evidence of an alien civilization's existence. Subsequently, the next step of this rogue Research and Development company is to anticipate a third type encounter with them. In parallel, Volg productions, a documentary filmmaking group has managed to get a snap on the leaked footage of a dark-skinned, golden eyed fellow arousing interest of all parties... This summary makes for an intriguing premise. A couple of interesting themes could have been further explored such as "Is a culture unethically allowing the exploitation of Historical heritage any more worthy than the one
it plunders from?" or "how far extends the power of language? Could the sheer might of performative words means obliteration of mankind in the long course?"
Yet, Al Caran no Isan chooses to overlook these questions in favor of relating Shana's tale of self discovery... By following a linear path towards the curtain fall, Visual 80 ends to deliver an OAV falling short in all departments through a combination of lack of imagination, ineptitude, lack of budget and screen time.
The present adaptation is emulating a novel from Michihara Katsumi. Some hints suggest that success might have led to the creation of a series. A quick research indicates that it was the only one of her career, thus highlighting the failure of this eventuality if there was any. It is not difficult to understand why as the plotline evokes more a third rate role playing game than the science-fiction classic in the vein of Steven Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".
There are plot holes which are never addressed, as what makes the Hartz Bouken Corporation the official firm to unearth and utilize artefacts. The Volg Productions crew themselves practise clandestine excavations but aren't worried in the least by the forces of law. In Planet Seralat, they are welcomed with open arms and left unmonitored! If the only limit is finances, what prevents philanthropic billionaires to oppose the Bougen group? It is not as if credentials are needed to become excavator, in this reality. The spectacular plot twists, far to be objects of a careful build up, come at the worst moment, such as the one casually blathered by a flustered professor Jason at the end of a communication. Even the conclusion echoes as a smite, letting patient watchers mundanely know with a elliptic card how pointless the unfolding events had been...
It is not as if the world building redeem the flimsy narrative. Instead of supporting it through the presentation visionary concepts, Visual 80 juggles with torches, burning themselves as they handle a genre they obviously do not master. It cruelly lacks garnishing. What you practically get is a superimposed eighties template, thereby emphasizing the hilarious squareness of the production! One would be damned if these punks seen racketting the heroine don't shop in Space Hot Topic! Besides, in an intriguing uchronian scenario, Disco hasn't died. If disregarding the sheer ridiculousness of this fact, it doesn't help that nightclub goers dance with zero gravity. Would not that be unpractical as people keep bumping into one another? Also, it would not allow for a particularly subtle controlled range of moves, as the body mass are opposed little to no pull. To put the finishing touches in this feat of failure, the nightclub is located in the passage of a highly frequented artery. Anyone could barge in and stir some trouble, including the above-mentionned Hot Topic enthusiast rebels. Let us face it, the very concept behind a zero gravity city is moronic. After months of this regime, the citizens of this place would suffer dramatic muscular atrophy resulting from the scarce recourse to their limbs. Indeed, after returning from long missions, astronauts are treated like persons in need of physiotherapy. It would not be so ghastly if the concept was at least executed properly: to the regret of Michihara, it is simply not possible to sprinkle juice downwards with absence of gravity. The outcome would be bubbles wobbling around, possibly even drowning the idiot pressing it out! This is a basic rule of the mechanics of low density fluids, yet!
Very well, scriptwriting is down for the count, then. What about characterization? It is nothing to shoot love on top of a datcha roof under snow storm. Shana is your typical Mary Sue, the last representant of a long gone culture. For the plot convenience, she is also highly skilled in martial arts despite being only 17. Toryune, the very first encountered alien may be sumed up as a space Muslim Elf: just replace Allah in "there's one god named Allah and we live to serve him" with Al Caral. He is so one dimensional that it is dubious you are going to buy the attachement the protagonists nourish for him. Talking about Harmer, the naive male co-protagonist, he shows more nuances in his behavior torn he is between his curiosity, his good hearted nature and his desire to steer clear from troubles. He would cut it better as the main focus of the OAV... Unfortunately, as banals have thick skin, everyone is forced to cope with a red vinyl clad strong female lead for the sake of sex appeal. On the other hand, the direct antagonist, the professor Jason, is a competent villain despite the questionable lack of security on the premises of his facility. The two other worthwhile characters are Zack Isedo (also known as Zack Iznable for the sassy ones) and professor Hinagi. The first one, a sort of long haired offshoot of Char Aznable, clearly demonstrates potential. He subverts expectations by trying to win over the trust of the humanely Hinagi through an alliance despite the initial backlash of their first interview; if given proper devolopment the interaction between these two could have laid the foundations in making amazing villains. Too bad it does not really matter as the OAV fizzles out in an anticlimatic fashion. Simply underwhelming.
Could art be the saving grace? Unfortunately, you are not going to be dazzled by the visuals as well. As stated above, the art direction lacks personality, right to the relics which look more like termite mounds than hieratic alien monuments inspiring awe. It is not surprising that Zack Iznable looks down on them!
All Visual 80 translates is a recycled template you would see in most animes of the era. The chara-design is above average in comparison of the rest. It is animated with egregious lack of budget though: no background character moves or cast is shown standing around in simplistic postures, the arms all along the body; their simple walking motion in empty looking areas only adds to the overall misery. The only positive thing that can be said to its credit is that it is not as incompetent as the all-time low Tsui no Sora. The sound design is fair, going for an ambient approach. It gets certainly dreary after a while but this monotony also bolsters the hypnotic, eerily tribalistic character of the synth and windpipes tracks...
A quick word about the voice acting: the OAV cashes in on the presence of Hisakawa Aya, particularly known for her role as Sailor Mercury. It is rather amusing to imagine Shana telling the Volg productions to study more to get better outcomes or yell for the bubble spray catchphrase as she assaults Jason's guards!
All in all, Al Caral no Isan is a sad cover crop mixture... Of the kind used in low quality bread to feed the poor wretch. This entry is very difficult to recommend, unless you also happen to be interested about the intellectually stimulating task of breaking apart poorly put together obscurities. It has virtually zero replay value to speak of. Ô, careful readers who gently scoped through all of this, go watch "Please Save my Earth" instead. One of the sub-themes is the dilemma alien scientists face to either save themselves and enter in contact with our species or die of a horrible sickness, secluded in their moon base. It is infinitely more thrilling than anything ACnI would ever dream to become.
Let us have a last thought for Orphan Fansubs. In their commiseration for the forgotten contributors of the industry, they took patient dedication to cover this waste of reel. They are the more successful and sympathetic Hartz Bougen corporation, in a way. Therefore, the review is devoted to their drive to unearth hidden gems. Praise be unto Sacred Geometry~
..| Colophon |..
This section is dedicated to content indication in order to inform audience in a practical way. On the next paragraph, the buzzwords offer hints about the title's strong suits and drawbacks.
Ketchup meter: ACnI is not devoid of violent moments. It is cathartic as most of the amoral scientists perish gruesomely, having their throat slit or being forced into suicide. Due to obvious lack of budget, these scenes aren't depicted in a realistic enough fashion to be memorable... So don't expect death scenes on-par with Akira's.
xXx meter: You get to briefly peep on a naked Shana as she recovers in suspended animation. There is also the cleavage part, as Harmer fishes for the alien artifact Shana stuffed into her cup. Pretty tame as a whole.
Fishing scene(s): None.
+ An interesting premise insighted by the synopsis
+ An original setting (heroes as part of a documentary filmmaking crew)
+ Some promising characters that could use development
+ A pleasant psychotronic soundtrack
- A sore lack of creativity art-wise
- Blatant disinterest for theme exploration
- Dumb scifi concepts
- Bum poor production values
- An utterly revolting conclusion! What an effrontery!