Perfect timing on Sentai Filmworks’ behalf in getting this series out right before Luc Besson releases his mega-budget summer scifi epic, Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets. Both are adaptations of a French science fiction comic, Valerian et Laureline, that debuted in 1967. The movie trailer for Besson’s version looks fantastic, and after taking in the first episode of this French-Japanese anime looks equally fantastic! It came out back in 2007 in France (2005, however, is listed on the back of the DVD) and it almost feels like I came across news of it back then too. Besson’s The Fifth Element (1997) was also inspired by the French artist, Jean-Claude Mézières, who drew the Valerian et Laureline comic.
Watched the first episode last night, “Time Matters,” and liked what I saw. This tale takes place in the year of 2417 on Earth, well, it starts out on Earth, and Valerian is in training to be the newest Time Space Agent (I wonder if Dark Horse’s Timecop was inspired by the France’s Valerian comic?). Valerian is an arrogant, cocky son of a bitch, but he excels at his final test, which is a “time jump” simulation that sees he and his trainer touching down in another time and witnessing the capture and eventual murder of an alien resistance fighter. Rule #1, never intervene in past events, only observe, and Valerian makes the right call and does not intervene. Now he’s ready to go out into the field on a real time jump. He’s given what is in his eyes a shitty looking ship and told to venture to the middle ages (the year 912 to be exact) and simply observe the inhabitants and report back. Do not intervene! Even the ship’s A.I. Rhonda reiterates this to him.
You can pretty much see what’s going to happen here, and it does!
We meet Laureline who has some pretty serious juggling skills (later on we’ll see she’s got some pretty sweet acrobatic skills too, enough to rival Valerian’s even) entertaining the local town folk, but she’s interrupted by this royal who wants to marry her; saying, no, gets her locked up and scheduled for a hanging in the morning. Valerian is right there in the dungeon next to her because his mocking snickering was overheard by all. Valerian gets them both out, but Laureline thinks he’s some kind of sorcerer. Super science would look like magic to a “primitive human” wouldn’t it? Valerian tries like hell to lose her during the escape, because he knows now intervening really does suck, and can get you dead in some circumstances, but she sticks with him. What shouldn’t have happened is Laureline rescuing Valerian when he’s knocked unconscious by a group of soldiers as Rhonda is flying in to rescue him. She pulls him onto the ship and away they go into orbit. For a “middleager” who’s having everything she believes in tested right before her eyes, she takes in all the “super science” in a kind of curious, enthusiastic stride. Mistake #2 is taking her back to 2417 with him and once they return they discover the Earth is gone! I mean, just not there! Like it never was! And thus begins a 40-episode adventure to find out what the fuck happened to planet Earth. You know what, I’m kind of curious too. Even more so to know if they “fix” things by the end of the series.
There’s a three month jump in time between episode one and two where we learn Laureline has begun to educate herself in the science of this century. Central Point is where the two end up, it’s an artificial planet that’s become the central hub of the galaxy, and in this galaxy blutox (pronounced blue-tox) is the currency of choice. It’s all coins and no dollar bills. The series basically chronicles how Val and Laurel make a living, by taking odd jobs to live a day-to-day, and no matter where they go they usually end up back at Central Point.
The title of each episode has the word ‘time’ in it, since the series relies pretty heavily on time travel, but that particular mechanism in their old ship as well as in their new one cannot be accessed. We do eventually find out what happened to the Earth in episodes #38 (“Long Time No See”) and #39 (“The Test Of Time”), and apparently none of it was Valerian’s fault by taking Laureline from her time period. The final three episodes pull the series together in that we learn the man in charge on Earth is a descendant of that tyrant who wanted to marry Laureline, and he’s the reason the Earth vanished. He took the Earth over, lying to the masses that an asteroid would hit and wipe out all life on the planet. So, to prevent this from happening he would teleport the entire planet to another galaxy and enacts a regime change. Everyone agreed and a dictator took over. By the time Valerian and Laureline discover their home on the other side of the galaxy the planet has fallen into utter ruin as this Raymond de Tancarville made the planet look like an homage to the twelve century. And to make matters worse he had a hand in creating a race of talking squid-like creatures that are the main bad guys in the series as they itch to take over as many planets as possible by infiltrating governments. Tancarville’s wants to rule the universe and he does near the end of the series, using these creatures, and time travel.
But there is a happy ending as Valerian and Laureline fight to take back their planet and free the universe from Tancarville’s control. The final three eps, especially the last one, get’s very Back To The Future II time travel crazy as Valerian and Tancarville fight each other by popping in and out of time. Eventually democracy prevails, Tancerville is killed, and Earth is teleported back to its original galaxy. Unfortunately, the future Valerian came from can no longer be gotten back to, since so much has changed, and Laureline chooses to stay on this new Earth and help rebuild it back to what it used to be. There’s a nine months later prologue where Valerien returns to get Laureline and off they go into space again.
This series is very kid friendly. I’d rate it PG. There’s no gore, but supporting characters do die, so death exists in this show. If you’re looking to introduce your kids to anime this would be good show to start with.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1.33:1 full frame—2.0 English Dolby Digital—No subtitles
Extras included . . .
- Clean Opening Animation
- Clean Closing Animation
- Sentai Trailers