Looking at the setup for “Innocent Venus,” many elements are old, familiar plot devices: a future world after a disaster destroys half the population, a clear class separation between the rich who live in decadent cities and the rest of the survivors living in the rubble outside, a mysterious young girl the military is chasing for some larger purpose, her lone-wolf-type protector (in this case, two of them), and so on. Yet “Innocent Venus” manages to entertain nonetheless by wisely focusing on the action rather than trying to squeeze angst and relevance out of the dystopian setup and tired plot devices – and as a straightforward sci-fi action show, it works admirably.
The titular Venus is the oppressive military’s codename for Sana Nobuto, a 14-year-old girl with some unspecified importance. She was taken out of the military’s hands by two defectors from their elite Phantom soldiers, Jo and Jin, who are on the run while trying to protect Sana, although their own motivations are also unclear. The story starts right in middle of the action, giving out this basic outline of the story over the course of the first volume’s episodes. Tagging along with our heroes is a bratty street urchin named Gora, while the military, the rest of the Phantom squad and even pirates try to get their hands on the girl.
None of the characters have shown any great amount of depth so far, but they also haven’t been reduced to one defining quirk or catchphrase, so there’s still the chance they’ll be developed further in later episodes. The action is the highlight, though, with fast and fluid animation giving a lot of energy to the scenes. The computer-generated models used for the light mechs don’t always blend seamlessly with the rest of the animation, but it’s not to the point of distraction.
In some ways, “Innocent Venus” uses the general familiarity of its story as a shortcut – as if viewers will immediately recognize what’s going on, so they can get right to the action. With only 12 episodes in the series, that was probably a good move, as it lets the show focus on its biggest strength.
U.S. release: ADV Films
Produced by Bandai Visual
Release date: Aug. 21, 2007
Genres: Action, sci-fi, drama, mecha