Anime Spotlight: Lost Universe

Lost Universe is a shonen anime, which combines the elements of adventure, comedy, drama, and science fiction to tell its story. The series is based off of a series of light science fiction novels created by Hajime Kanzaka.

The 26-episode television anime series was produced by E.G. Films, and was directed by Takashi Watanabe. The series aired on Japanese television from April 3-September 25, 1998.

ADV Films originally held the North American distribution license for Lost Universe. As of this writing, the North American license is held by Nozomi Entertainment.

Lost Universe is set in the future, where the Nightmare Syndicate is trying to take over the universe any way that they can. At their disposal are Lost Ships, spaceships that use psi-energy as their weapons. The main protagonist of the series is Kane Blueriver, who is a “trouble contractor”; he has a Lost Ship called the Swordbreaker, which was handed down to him by his grandmother. Kane is accompanied by Canal Vorfied, a green-haired human-like hologram that controls the Swordbreaker.

In the first episode, the pair encounters Millennium “Millie” Feria Noctrune, a young woman who is trying to become the greatest detective in the world. Unfortunately, Kane ends up thwarting that goal, and Millie finds herself being arrested with the bad guys. Once Millie is released, she finds Kane and Canal and insists to travel with them, because they owe her for what happened. While Millie may blow up the kitchen every time she prepares a meal, she also has valuable knowledge about arms use. The series follows the adventures the trio has as they keep having run-ins with the Nightmare Syndicate.

Lost Universe starts out as a comedy series, but somewhere along the way, it changes into a more dramatic series. Unfortunately, the transition between comedy and drama really wasn’t handled well, and that helps to make the series feel a little disconcerting and sloppy.

Another problem I had with the series has to do with changes to the characters and plot that come out of nowhere, with nothing to hint that these changes were ever a possibility. The worst of these had to do with the character of Nail Claymore and the plot that he ends up being involved in. By the time I finished watching the series, I still couldn’t figure out Nail’s motivations for his storyline. My husband described the series to me by saying that the plot was like a wall without anything supporting it; as the series progressed, the story just fell apart.

The animation in Lost Universe also deteriorates as the series progresses. While the early episodes have some decent animation, the last couple of episodes look rather rushed and sloppy.

I had originally seen the first episode of Lost Universe that was included on a DVD that came with the February 2008 issue of Otaku USA magazine. After seeing that first episode, my husband and I thought the series showed a lot of promise. When Right Stuf! had a sale on the DVD box set, we were excited to buy it so we could finally see the whole series. By the time we finished watching this set, we were both very disappointed in how it turned out.

Unfortunately, Lost Universe ends up being an anime series that I can’t in good conscience recommend to anyone. If you’re interested in watching anime with science fiction themes, there are other titles that I would recommend over Lost Universe.

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