Since the dawn of time, the angels of planet Eden have watched the planet Earth and its denizens. Now two angels, the compassionate Chihaya and the rough Kagetsuya have been sent to Earth to help judge whether or not the "Earthians" are worthy of continued existence.
The treatment of angels in fiction has always been of particular interest of me. Honestly, just slapping "angel" on the title is often enough to get me to take a look at something. I hadn't heard much about Earthian. Seeing that it was the "Angelic Collection", and the rather classic feathered wing angelic character designs drew me to it. I guess I should be a bit more discriminating, since this OAV series is terrible.
First off, this series has some of the worst pacing I have ever seen. I don't generally like to start out with such a basic slam, but I was constantly struck by how utterly amateurish the pacing was in this work. Everything was erratic with interesting scenes being cut far too short while pointless scenes would seem to stretch on forever. Scene transition was so poorly done and it felt at times as if they had just slapped some scenes footage together and said, "Hey, Watanabe, see if you can string this together into an episode for me, okay?"
Besides the problems with pacing we get rather bizarre choices in the overall plot development over the entire four OAV episodes. Now I understand that this was adapted from a manga and that isn't necessarily a bad thing in of itself, but what possessed the writers and directors to make the choices they did about what to animate? They must have known that had more interesting material to work with since they keep constantly referencing far more interesting events that apparently occurred between the actual episodes here. At times, it just felt like someone had stolen half the episodes. At the beginning of the third episode in particular, an event of MAJOR plot and character implications occurs, but all we get is a brief voice over that barely describes it without answering a number of glaring questions about the nature of the events and the involvement of the main characters with those events. Everything just seemed so disjointed. I couldn't tell if certain plot inconsistencies were from some other mysterious events that they hadn't bothered to show me or if the writers just forgot the rules they set down earlier.
The haphazard way this was all put together is just as visible in the treatment of the show's characters. Various characters appear with little development or background before disappearing never to be seen. Others who are supposed to be major plot points keep meeting mysterious fates that we only get brief explanations about. The main antagonist of the episodes who was supposed to be this brilliant mad scientist type comes off as completely ridiculous. Almost every plot involving him (which was unfortunately three out of the four episodes) had me groaning several times as the utterly contrived elements that seemed to accompany his involvement with the show. The plots for the OAV episodes basically seem taken from a grab bag of standard bad mid-80s science fiction cliches. The second episode, dealing with a "fallen" angel was a bit more interesting and I wished they had done more with that, instead of the portraying world's most generic mad scientist character.
Since they spend all this time doing all the major plot points apparently off-screen, we miss a lot of the key events that are supposed to influence the main characters both are which are fairly bland. First we have Chihaya, who does nothing but angst about his wings being black. Oh wait. He gets kidnapped a lot too. At first they made it seem like his wings were going to link in with some other vaguely explained elements of the plot, but they didn't end up going anywhere really with that. I got sick of hearing him whine and his complete inability to accomplish anything that doesn't involve whining or looking sad. Heck, he starts out the series with a whining letter to the Archangel Michael. I swear EVERY episode he gets beat up and kidnapped by some mean scientists/goons/robots or whatever. His partner, Kagetsuya, was vaguely more interesting but he kept going through these dramatic personality shifts at what seemed like every five intervals. The way they portrayed him in the first episodes versus some of his actions in the last two left me quite befuddled. I could infer some explanations for his behavior, but if the creative team behind this OAV series was doing their job, I shouldn't have to treat characterization like it is some grand puzzle. That is the way I felt about most of the characters in this. A lot of their behavior just seemed a bit too random or abrupt.
While Chihaya doesn't do much but get kidnapped and/or pout (heck, Kagetsuya even does all the cooking), there is a lot of action involved when Kagetsuya decides to get violent. While he isn't particularly that impressive from what might expect of an angel, he does get in a few good fights. Unfortunately all these action scenes (and there are a lot of them) are all terribly animated. I've seen flipbooks that had better frame rates than some of these scenes. We also get lots of speed lines, stock footage, and even stock footage of speed lines. Even adjusting for the age of the title, the animation is noticeably poor.
In the end, I just found I didn't care. I wasn't really getting much real insight into the characters other than realizing that Chihaya is really upset because he's different. The utterly inept pacing killed any real sense of drama or tension from the actual plots of most of the episodes and poor animation made the action scenes boring. I knew I was in trouble in the first episode when I looked up at the clock on my DVD player and it said that only fifteen minutes had passed and all I could think was, "There is still thirty more minutes in this one and three more entire episodes after that!"
Ironically enough, my main point of amusement from Earthian came from whenever the pair showed their wings. You see, for reasons never really clarified, whenever they go into their winged forms, they also go into what I dubbed Super Bishounen Mode. Basically they seem to get a bit prettier and their hair long. Keep in mind these two are "angels from the planet Eden" rather than something of a more supernatural nature. Normally I wouldn't be so petty about something like that, but nothing else in this series was good enough to distract me from such details.
They start out with what sounds like a good premise, two angels who are to help judge Earth, and totally ruin it with awful pacing, uninteresting characters, cliched plots, and bad animation. If you are a big fan of the manga, I guess you got to experience all the actual interesting stories and character development that were only hinted at in the anime, so you'll probably want to add a star. People who find whiny angst fountains particularly irritating might want to subtract a star because of Chihaya. Honestly if it wasn't for the second episode that I actually found somewhat entertaining and which had some actual interesting themes, I probably would have given this one star. — Jeremy A Beard
Recommended Audience: There is a lot of violence and a number of people get shot, stabbed, or otherwise beat up. In the first episode for instance, they keep showing a flash back to a fellow getting impaled and later on we get some people getting a few pieces torn off. I've certainly seen a lot bloodier, but this is hardly kiddy fare. The two main characters in this are homosexual males and they do have a few very brief and not particularly explicit love scenes (which mostly involve kissing in bed). If that sort of thing bothers you'll probably want to stay away from this title. If you are a yaoi fan though you still probably won't want to watch this, go watch Fake or something, it is way better than this anyway. In general, I think this title is safe for older teens and above.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (4/4)
Earthian © 1989 Yun Kouga / Shinshokan / Toshiba EMI
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