Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Starship Troopers (OVA)
Frequently touted as a superior adaptation of Robert Heinlein's novel, Tetsuro Amino and Sunrise Inc's six part Starship Troopers is instead a yawning dirge that dances around Heinlein's politics and extraterrestrial engagement to focus on its fey male lead, and the anti-emotion that drifts across his face. The closest thing to a recognisable thesis on the fascist group-think Heinlein dreamt up comes in Rico's passive rise through the ranks. His colleagues back him simply because he fits an agreeable hero mold. He succeeds wildly beyond his means because he is handsome and disinclined to thought. Friends project personality aspects onto Rico, who muddles through lethal powersuit scenarios, finding himself largely inept in any military undertaking. His meekness inevitably causes his friends to perish, Rico soulfully finds strength in their simpering sacrifice. It's a take that borders on bishonen.
There are a few notable elements though. Women are largely aligned with an Officer class - an overwhelming percentage of Rico's superiors are female. These women are rigid and stoic were the male grunts are capering buffoons. Interpersonal relationships live and die on female interest, a narrative element likely included to foster a sense of male fraternity in the corps. It has the reverse effect though. Male empowerment is replaced with an idea of a matriarchal society that has little use for men other than cannon fodder. Throughout Starship Troopers there's an underlining sense that these fretting half-men are struggling to align themselves with a woman in a feeble attempt to grant them status. When Rico rejects university to join the military it's his mother who freezes him out, slapping him the day he wanders off to become part of the collective. His father just fidgets. Rico is in love with Carmencita, a pale go-getter who has everyone's attention. Rather than make a move in High School, Rico holds off, joining the military to ape her ambitions. The couple are only brought together after the pair have been mauled in a disastrous campaign that appears to have solved nothing. The mini-series ends with a blushing Rico failing to articulate how he feels about this woman.