Green Legend Ran box cover

© 1992 AIC

Info

Available on VHS and DVD from Pioneer Animation.
OAV Series: 3 episodes on 3 VHS tapes, 1 collector
45 minutes per episode
Science Fiction
Version I Watched: English dubbed
Objectionable Content: Violence, brief nudity

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Green Legend Ran

On the surface, Green Legend Ran appears to simply be made up of elements used in many other science fiction titles, with little new to offer. And it's very true that this series uses many things we've seen before. It's set on desert world where water is very scarce and people cluster together in shanty towns. There are mysterious alien objects that have fallen from the sky. The protagonist is a young kid with dreams of joining a rebellion against an oppressive society. If you've watched a number of sci-fi titles, then this probably sounds familiar.

So what exactly makes this series so darn good and sets it apart from others like it? For starters, the story is definitely not one-dimensional. Green Legend Ran takes place in the future, when the world has become overrun with pollution. One day, six mysterious objects, known as the "Holy Mothers", plunge from the sky and proceed to suck up almost all water on the planet turning it into a desert. An oppressive government soon takes hold, centered on a religion involving the Holy Mothers. A young boy, Ran, having lost his parents, decides to join a group of rebels to fight against the oppression. There's quite a bit of detail to the story line and the plot elements are presented quite well. A lot of mystery is generated to keep things interesting, and as the story progresses we get a few answers, but also many more questions. Just what are the Holy Mothers? Who's that strange guy with the scar on his chest? And what's the deal with those weird bishops of Rodo anyway? All this and not to mention the fact that it's sometimes difficult to figure who's good and who's bad. At times I thought I had things figured out, only to reverse my judgement moments later. This series does a very good job of holding your interest and keeping you guessing.

Characterization is pretty solid, too. While the characters are a bit cliched, they do have a fair amount of depth to them. We get various flashbacks about Ran's past and his motivations, which were nicely woven into the story. Ira remains an enigma for a good portion of the series, as do a few of the other characters. The bishops of Rodo were very bizarre and intriguing. Not all of the characters were that interesting, though. A lot of the minor characters were rather similar and sort of blended together. I have trouble remembering any solid distinctions between them.

The only real area where this series falls flat is in the presentation. The background art is generally detailed and conveys the settings rather well. In contrast, the character art is very plain and almost devoid of detail. At times the characters are downright crude in appearance, and this creates a bit of a distraction. The English voice acting isn't very good, either. Aside from Ran, the rest of the characters sounded rather dismal. Many voices tended to sound very similar and I'm thinking Pioneer should have used more diverse voice actors.

Aside from the somewhat marred presentation, Green Legend Ran is an excellent science fiction story, filled with mystery and adventure. I give this series a hearty recommendation.

The Verdict: * * * * (good)