What They Say:
The objects fell from the sky, swallowing most of Earth’s water, vegetation and animal life. Now, while the remnants of humanity struggle to survive in a world of endless deserts, the followers of the alien Rodo rule from enclaves that control the little water that is left. However, not everyone is willing to bow to the Rodo and their disciples, and resistance groups like Hazzard continue to fight back.
Seeking revenge against the man who killed his mother, a young man named Ran sets out to join Hazzard, but fate intervenes and he finds himself in the middle of a battle between the two sides. Hoping to rescue a beautiful silver-haired girl named Aira, Ran will ultimately take on an even greater mission: to learn the shocking secrets that both Hazzard and the Rodoists have been hiding from the world. The classic adventure that enthralled a generation returns in GREEN LEGEND RAN!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track as well as the previously created English language dub, both of which are in stereo and encoded at 224kbps. The show is fairly simple and straightforward with its sound design, a few nice moments here and there that were designed to show off systems just a bit back in the early 90’s on laserdisc, but it’s fairly straightforward in the here and now. The forward soundstage has some decent directionality at times and the score comes across well while the action has some mild impact as needed. It’s mostly about the sweeping moments when it’s not dealing with the dialogue or quiet areas but all of it is handled well and without problems. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 1992 and 1993, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The episodes are roughly 45 minutes each and are spread across two discs with one on the first and two on the second. Animated by AIC, the series has a look that sets it apart a bit with a more washed out color palette and some appealing character designs to it, both for the humans and the aliens, that makes it distinctive without being over the top. The transfer for this uses the same materials as the Pioneer release, which means the English swapped out credits at the end, and a bit of cross coloration in some areas along with some line noise. It feels like it’s cleaned up a bit from the previous release but that’s a given considering it was last released in, what, 1998? Fans of the show may not see a huge bump here.
The packaging for this release thankfully changes things up from the previous incarnation as the DVD releases have been weak compared to the Laserdisc sets. The two discs are held against the interior walls of this standard sized keepcase with a friend cover that has more of an illustration feeling to it with a good sense of color and tension to it as it works through the main characters, the aliens, and some of the other iconography. It shows its age in the character designs but it also doesn’t look like other releases, which will help it stand out. The back cover keeps to the earthy tones while providing for a sand filled look that plays well to the Hazzard ship here. The tagline material along the top works well with the images from the show through various color filters while the summary of the premise breaks it all down well. The production credits are easy to read while the technical grid lays it all out in a clean and accurate fashion. No show related inserts are included with this release.
The static menu design for this release works well as it uses some of the few pieces of key art that’s out there. The first volume has one of my favorites, which isn’t one of the best there is, as it has the two kids moving forward for adventure that makes them look even younger than they are in the show. But their color design combined with the sandy background, the blue sky, and the Rodo ship behind them, just clicks for me. The logo is kept simple through the middle and I like the menu navigation section as it works with the background but has a good sense of color with some bright green to go with the black and white by number and title. Submenus load quickly and easily and everything is fully functional.
The extras are minimal as expected with the clean opening and closing material and the original Japanese promos.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One of the things that I loved about anime in the early 1990’s in North America was Pioneer LDC. With the Japanese branch expanding from hardware into entertainment itself so that it could have more to market, especially with its burdgeoning LaserDisc market at the time, they came into it all with a bunch of original works. And that was wondrous even then as it wasn’t something tired to dozens of volumes of manga or anything. And they were short and in a sense complete in their own way with those first run shows, like Hakkenden, Moldiver, El-Hazard and even Tenchi Muyo. You enjoyed more if more was produced but they all felt largely complete. So when Pioneer LDC of America began bringing things out and skipped VHS for the first few years to push their Laserdisc market, well, I was sold. Dual language, removable subtitles/captions, step-framing through the show? Yeah, thirty minutes to a side but compared to VHS? Oh my goodness.
While they were doing single OVA releases for $35 a pop at the time, they also went big with a three episode OVA series called Green Legend Ran as they released it as a box set for a higher price obviously. And it felt absolutely special at the time because you got the whole show, at once, in a big ass box set, with some great perks such as a t-shirt and other things I can’t remember anymore. It wasn’t what anyone else was doing and that probably colored one’s view of the show itself a bit. Green Legend Ran is a show that totally fits up my alley as it’s a far flung future where hundreds of years after things went bad we get to see the change that will put it all right. Animated by AIC and directed by Satoshi Sga based on the story by Yu Yamamoto, this was something whose imagery still sticks strongly in my mind to this day.
The premise is simple enough in that as mankind is at the brink of ruining the world through ecological disaster, a race of aliens arrive known only as the Rodo. Their towering ships plunge into the Earth and everything is soaked up into it when it comes to water, turning the place into a barren wasteland. With some people surviving, there are small shanty towns that exist all over and a kind of strange culture that has grown around the towering ships themselves where we see the priests of Rodo come out and the monstrous mutant bishops that oversee everything. Humanity is at the brink to be sure but we keep plugging away at it, hence there being young kids that can save the day.
That comes in the form of Ran, a plucky young man who ends up falling for a young woman that he comes across named Aira. She stands out because of her silver hair, something that has its own mystical/superstitious element thanks to the Rodoists. Ran is following her to be sure as the two have some cute chemistry together but he’s also searching for a man with a scar on his chest that was involved with the death of his family, giving him a strong reason to be on the move and serious. The two of them end up throwing their lot in with the resistance faction, known as Hazzard, and that leads to some small adventures before everything moves quickly toward a confrontation with the true leader of the Rodoists on Earth and their grand plan for humanity.
Admittedly, there isn’t anything original here in a way, but it works well for two reasons. The first is the running time where the three episodes are roughly 45-minutes each. It’s essentially a slightly overlong movie that has the room to breathe and that means you’re not expecting a lot of in-depth material in some ways nor something that’s overly padded. It focuses well on the functioning of the world as well as the young blossoming relationship between our leads here, bringing them well into focus as events push toward a climactic meeting and event. It also all works well because of the animation style and overall set design. It has a bleak ending to it that’s not overplayed to the point of oppression and the earthy color palette combined with the beautiful blues of the sky and the few moments of vibrancy elsewhere makes it all distinctive. I love the designs of the ship and the Rodoists along with the bishops. But I also like that these two kids are kids and Aira isn’t overdone in any way, or sexualized, which makes it a lot more accessible. It’s a great looking show in some of these design areas and that has stuck with me for nearly twenty years.
Green Legend Ran is a show that probably is of limited appeal but is one that I well and truly love, problems and all. It’s a simple show that doesn’t dig into the big themes it wants to present but it has such a sense of fun and adventure about it while bringing out some great looking concepts that I admire it even while acknowledging the flaws. It’s a series that I really wish would get explored with an expanded TV series remake these days since even when it was part of the Pioneer launch it was one that stood out for how unlike the others it was. Sentai’s release is a slightly upgraded reworking of the previous Pioneer/Geneon edition so it’s not something that’s going to make fans from my generation get too excited, since it’s not a high definition release, but it’s a show I’m glad to have back on the market for some lucky fans to discover sometime.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Promos, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: C
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: February 21st, 2017
Running Time: 140 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.