Monday, October 23, 2017

Al Caral no Isan

Al Caral no Isan (The Legacy of Al Caral) is a 1992 science-fiction OVA based on a manga by Michihara Katsumi, who also wrote Joker: Marginal City. It has been on my wish list for a long time, and thanks to the efforts of a new translator, Sunachan, Orphan is finally able to bring you this intriguing show.

Al Caral no Isan is set in a familiar science-fiction setting of ubiquitous interstellar travel, and it explores an equally familiar theme: first contact with aliens. However, the story is very different. For 180 years prior to the beginning of the show, the Harz Bougen Corporation has been discovering and secretively exploiting relics of a vanished interstellar civilization. As the story opens, they discover an alien race, with golden, cat-like eyes, dark skin, and blonde hair, who call themselves the Sanaan. A young Sanaan boy named Toryune is captured and taken away to the Harz Bougen laboratories for "research."

Meanwhile, a small documentary film crew gets wind of the discovery and sets out to expose the truth. Part of the team is a mysterious girl named Shana T, who has a unique ability to unlock the alien relics and retrieve artifacts. Shana also wants to meet the "golden-eyes," as the aliens are called, but for an entirely different reason than the Harz Bougen team. She believes that she is not a real human and that the aliens hold the key to her identity and her future.

The Harz Bougen overseers, led by future president Zach Isedo, seem to be motivated by simple rapaciousness. They believe that the alien civilization which built the relics must have left untold treasures of knowledge or precious substances. They regard the Sanaan as unrelated, inferior "humanoids" with no rights or value. However, the truth is far more complicated. The Sanaan have inherited the power of their mystical creator, Al Caral, who was "the ruler of words." They have no need for weapons; they are far more dangerous than that.

The voice cast is stellar. Hisakawa Aya (Shana) has had a prolific career. She played Skuld in the Ah! My Goddess franchise, Sailor Mercury in the Sailor Moon franchise, Mishima Misako in Yume Tsukai (an Orphan project), and Koneko in Ear of the Golden Dragon (another Orphan project). Recent series include WWW.Working and Kyousogiga. Tanaka Hideyuki (Harmer) also has had a long career, including featured roles as Terryman in the Kinnikuman franchise, Rayearth in Magic Knight Rayearth, Sammy in Bavi Stock (an Orphan project), and Sawamura in Nozomi Witches (another Orphan project). Orikasa Ai (Toryune) made her debut in Shoukoushi Cedie. She also played Sara in Eien no Filena (an Orphan project), Seguchi Touma (the record company president) in Gravitation, Quatre in Gundam Wing, and Ryouko in the Tenchi Muyo franchise. The music, by synthesizer player Kotaki Mitsuru, is repetitive and hypnotic.

Orphan's release of Al Caral no Isan marks the debut of a new translator, Sunachan, who went over the script multiple times to make sure the nuances and complexities came through the process intact. Yogicat timed, I edited and typeset, and bananadoyouwanna, Nemesis, and Vigorousjammer all did QC. The raw is from the Internet and could be better. If anyone has an original Japanese laserdisc (Al Caral was never released on DVD), please let us know.

I don't think Al Caral no Isan was very successful. The director has few other credits to his name. The show was never released in digital form. It has rather average ratings on the various animation databases. But personally, I really enjoyed it. The background world-building is well done, although some details are never really explained. (What, exactly, are the small dragons that live symbiotically with the aliens?) The human characters include the usual black-and-white heroes and villains but also characters whose motives and actions are quite ambiguous. And finally, the gradual revelation of the true legacy of Al Caral and the power of words is an interesting twist. (I was reminded of the climax of Dune, when the protagonist, Paul Atriedes, says, "I can kill you with a word!") There is no clear-cut victory of good over evil or vice-versa. Humanity stands on the verge of first contact with aliens, and after a gruesome series of missteps, it is ready to pick up the pieces and meet the Other.

If you would like to take that step as well, you can get Al Caral no Isan from the usual torrent sources or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on 

No comments:

Post a Comment