Good Morning Althea
In the far future, Earth has recently entered an uneasy peace as the subordinate vassal of an alien humanoid race known as the Cfutz. The crew of the patrol ship Tetraskelion follows a distress beacon to a Cfutz battleship, which has been taken over by an artificial intelligence known as an Automaton. Only Garroly, a human imbued with supernatural Crest magic, and Nikolai, a battle-hardened cyborg, survive from the crew of the patrol ship, and the only one who can help them ... is a Cfutz named Althea. Can they put their trust in a former enemy and cooperate in order to defeat the Automaton and prevent it from killing more of their brethren?
It's rather odd to see something this old in digital sourcebing circles, and it's almost a shame that Good Morning Althea was largely overlooked in the early days of anime distribution. At almost twenty years old, there's simply no way this can be considered marketable in the modern age, but as it stands, this video release is worth taking a look at.
For starters, the animation is fairly decent for something this old, a little higher quality than anything televised from the time period, and probably comparable to anything from the Gall Force series -- not impressive, but not incompetent. The design work is actually very interesting, with insectoid mecha lurking around every darkened corner. While quite a bit of the show seems dark, it fits the mood quite well, as the rather small group of survivors is horribly outmatched by the rogue AI.
Granted, it's really nothing special -- it's something like an Enemy Mine setup. Though the war between the humans and the Cfutz (yet another oblique Cthulhu reference) is over, the wounds are still pretty raw, but Garroly and Althea seem pretty quick to cooperate as a matter of plot convenience. Althea, of course, must be woken up from cryosleep stark naked, because this is a non-televised feature from the 1980s. Also, there is one scene near the end where Althea is attacked by cables (shades of Iczer-One), though I am relieved the creators don't end up going too far with this. In the middle, there's a side mission involving the attempted rescue of obviously hapless redshirts, but there's no politics or great picture here, just a tightly contained action piece that works surprisingly well. Nothing new, to be sure ... but competently executed.
Granted, the voice acting isn't terribly exciting (as others have noted, you won't be watching this for the dialogue), but Horikawa Ryo (Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Reinhard von Lohengramm) and Arakawa Minako (Ragnarok, Judy) do well enough as Garroly and Althea. Veteran character actor Genda Tessho (City Hunter, Umibozu) is typecast as roughneck Nikolai, which shouldn't really surprise anyone.
Also, the music will seem particularly dated, with lots of synthesizer, though it doesn't feel too out of place at any time, and I imagine the opening music might have actually been rather good if they'd had the budget to use a real orchestra. The Macross-like reliance on music as a unifier and secret weapon also becomes a factor, which may annoy some people, especially when one considers that the insert song in question is performed in English by a non-native speaker.
While not a great title, Althea is a rather entertaining old-school sci-fi adventure with some neat mecha designs and a satisfying, if not terribly deep storyline. If this had been available in the old days at the video store, I'd have called it a definite rental. Nowadays, it's more of a curiosity, a relic of a time when stuff like this was all the rage.
Compared to newer titles, Good Morning Althea looks decidedly dated and simplistic, but it's actually nice to see something that relies on action and plot rather than fan service for a change. Remove a star if old-school graphics and storylines don't appeal to you. — Carlos/Giancarla Ross
Recommended Audience: There is some nudity on the part of Althea, and some violence (though nothing significantly graphic except for one decapitation, albeit helmeted). No sexual content. Teens and above.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Good Morning Althea © 1987 Animate Film / Bandai Visual
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