An insightful anime produced by two people recently came to my attention. Entitled Mars of Destruction, the short film is a chilling take into the origins of our species and our impact on the environment. The Destruction that this anime depicts in a fictional 2010 is heart-wrenching, yet thoughtful; and though the temporal setting has passed, many of the circumstances could very well come to fruition twenty years from now. It’s this intuitive bending of art and science that makes me want to gush about the intellectual aesthetics of Mars of Destruction.
In 2010, the Mars Exploration Vessel fails to return to Earth, sprinkling unknown amounts of debris over Japan, causing strange occurrences in Tokyo. An elite team of soldiers are given the task to take care of the resulting carnage that has spread throughout the metropolis and to discern the origins of a mysterious being that may be causing the terror. Leading the squad is Takeru, a special young man who is one of the few people capable of wearing the MARS special suit (created by his father) to fight the monsters known as The Ancients.
The point of Mars of Destruction isn’t the flash and bang that anime is often associated with, therefore, many Narutards and anime elitists will scoff at the production value and superficial trappings unimportant to the general quest of knowledge the one shot seeks to uncover. I, however, laud it for its overall artistic statement: that production houses are getting too big, and that the society that allows corporations to bloat into dubious monopolies is precisely the kind of civilization that runs amok and sets the background in which this anime takes place.
What is rarely spoken of in discussing this twenty-minute original video animation (OAV or OVA for short) was created by a handful of people, which automatically elevates this piece much higher than anything that Studio Ghibli or Production IG would make. There is a gorgeously fluid implementation of bombastic classical music juxtaposed with a minimalistic original score. Many will say that this choice is the result of the small team’s inability to score the OVA entirely on their own, but those people are guileless sheep who’d rather have another trite soundtrack from the highly overrated Nobuo Uematsu because they can’t appreciate the art of manipulating music from the public domain. There is a time and place for everything, and Mars of Destruction knows how to properly place music to help enhance the right emotions of a scene.
Like true artists, the writers don’t try to force-feed the viewer a story. Instead we’re only given what’s necessary in the moment, leaving us (the adults) to come to the proper, individualized conclusions that only high art can elicit. Part of what helps sell the story is the fantastic direction. There are few words spoken in Mars of Destruction, but it’s not necessary because so much more is told through mindful visual storytelling that is the work of both the animators and the director. Expressions of characters faces say much more than trite exposition.
This is what sets Mars of Destruction apart from the leagues of terrible anime that have become the glut of seasonal schedules. In the vein of Elfen Lied and Serial Experiments Lain, Mars of Destruction craftily subverts the viewers knowledge of media and popular science to create a terrifying mirror into the world that we inhabit.
Everyone must see it, and discuss this work of genius on the forum.
It’s highly underrated.