the_sun_is_up: Twilight Sparkle reading a book. (mlp - happiness is a good book)
[personal profile] the_sun_is_up


On today’s menu, we have another Magical Girl show that deservedly takes itself seriously: Genmu Senki Leda, aka Leda: The Fantastic Adventures of Yohko. This one’s a 75-minute OVA from 1985, and its story is your standard “girl falls into another world, transforms into a prophecied warrior, and is tasked with bringing down a local villain” plot à la Magic Knight Rayearth, but it’s the execution that makes this one really stand out.

Genmu Senki Leda is a regal feast for the eyes and ears, so much so that I’m tempted to call it “arty.” The show opens with a nearly 4-minute long sequence that’s devoid of dialogue and has only minimal narration, in which the heroine, Yohko, is composing and playing a wistful piano piece inspired by her secret love for some unnamed guy, and then it cuts to her walking down the street at dusk, meeting the guy on the road, trying to work up the nerve to confess her feelings, and ultimately failing. Due to the lack of dialogue, the whole sequence instead focuses on making the visuals, editing, cinematography, and timing with the piano music as beautiful and affecting as possible. And then this is followed by another dialogue-less sequence where Yohko falls into the other world and spends several minutes wandering around looking at all the very weird flora and fauna. Speaking of which, the design work in this show got a lot of love from somebody: the plants, the animals, the landscapes, the buildings, the enemy soldiers, their robotic steeds, their weapons and gadgets — everything in this alternate world is designed to look truly alien and bizarre. In short, this is not your standard fantasy setting. Also the color palette used in the alternate world is vibrant and beautiful, and while I’m no great judge of animation, it looks like the production staff made good use of their fatter OVA budget. On the aural side, the soundtrack consists of sweeping schmaltzy orchestral music that makes me feel like I’m going to swoon every time it comes on, intermixed with Yohko’s bittersweet piano solo and some hints of synth when the score gets more energetic during action scenes.

Some other recommendable aspects of GSL:

-It passes the Bechdel Test, since Yohko’s main ally is Yoni, the shrine maiden of Leda (the local goddess), and they spend some time discussing Leda and the dilapidated state of Ashanti.

-There are several cool action scenes such as: a) the hand-to-hand fight directly after Yohko’s first transformation, where she opens a can of whoopass on the enemy troops and robots, b) the chase scene on flying-motorcycle-things when she’s trying to retrieve her walkman, c) the battle where Yohko and Yoni both hop into giant robots (the similarities to Rayearth keep piling up!) and fight off the TIE-fighter-esque enemy spaceships, and d) the sequence at the end where the villain traps Yohko in a Lotus Eater Machine, but she awesomely busts out of it and causes a bunch of stuff to blow up in spectacular fashion.

-While the characters aren’t terribly interesting or memorable, they also manage to avoid obnoxious clichés and are likeable enough, which at this point is good enough for me. I also have to commend Ringhum, Yohko’s talking dog companion, for being one of the least annoying Magical Girl animal sidekicks ever.

-And for her transformation sequence, the heroine gets eaten by a giant flower. I don’t think anything more needs to be said.

Before watching GSL, I was unsure of whether to include in my project because a) it’s an OVA film, and I’m limiting the project to episodic serieses, and b) I wasn’t sure if it even fit the genre. After watching, I’m inclined to let the former slide because 1985 was still pretty early in the genre when not much was coming out, and as for the latter, GSL’s many similarities to Rayearth have convinced me that it does indeed qualify for the genre.

A good quality version of Genmu Senki Leda is available on Youtube with English subtitles so go watch it!

Date: 2012-04-20 09:25 pm (UTC)
sailorptah: Space (Default)
From: [personal profile] sailorptah
Well, I'm convinced. Thanks for the rec :D

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