Anime Review: Mass Effect: Paragon Lost

Taking bets now on which will survive.
The Delta Squadron, Vega’s team.

Hello again, Lusites! This week, the review is a request by none other than Lusipurr himself. Instead of requesting a series to review, our ruler has requested, nay, demanded a review of a feature-length movie. Nicely enough, this review will fit in with the main theme of the site, as it is an anime set in a video game universe. That universe is in fact, the Mass Effect Universe. The full title of the movie is Mass Effect: Paragon Lost, and it is a prequel to the third game that seems to take place at the same time as the events that start off the second game. The primary focus of the movie is a character from the third game, but there is no need to be familiar with any of the events that take place in that game before watching this. Is the movie as bad as some of the later entries in the series, or is the spirit of the earlier games preserved and put on display in this anime form? Well, readers, there is only one way to be sure, and that is to keep reading of course.

The movie begins on a drop ship headed for the human colony of Fehl Prime, which is under attack by a group of Krogan mercenaries, all members of a group called the Blood Pack. In command of one of the groups of defenders is the protagonist for the film, James Vega. His group, Delta Squad, are the only group to survive this initial attack, which is just the beginning of the bad news for them. After they manage to save the colony at the cost of several Marine lives, James is stationed permanently there, as it is a primary source of pharmaceuticals for the Alliance, which a fancy name for the human colonies. James feels that his special forces unit should not be stuck there, which makes sense, but humanity thinks the colony is too important to leave to normal defense, and so he and his team are assigned to defend it.

Blood Pack mercenaries are not to be trifled with.
Krogans are far and away the best thing about the Mass Effect universe.

From here, the movie skips ahead two years and shows that Vega’s crew is enjoying their somewhat easy security detail, and have even souped up the colony’s primary defenses, installing a very nice giant cannon over top of everything. James has spent some time with the locals, getting to know them more personally and making friends with some of them, including a small girl named April. The whole opening scenes definitely give a feeling that everyone is pretty doomed, what with how chipper and positive everything is being. It does not take long for events to kick into gear, as a signal is being put out from somewhere on the planet that seems to be jamming long range communications and wreaking havoc on the comms systems in general. Vega and his team are sent out to check it out, along with an Asari scientist that James has developed a crush on.

The team is told that their transport vehicle is damaged and that they will have to run to the signal on foot, but luckily there is a supply person who happens to have arrived at the same time as the signal, who also happens to have a Mako that they are able to use as transport. Once they arrive at the site of the signal, they discover it to be some sort of strange beacon that is alien in origin. The crew destroys it, much to the dismay of Asari scientist lady, and this sorts things out for a moment. She makes a call to an important cameo, but her signal is once again jammed, but this time it is by a Collector ship. The Collectors are the primary villains of the second Mass Effect game, so anyone who has played that will be familiar with their activities. The shortened version is that they collect humans and destroy their colonies, using a swarm of insects that paralyze the colonists, making them typically defeated without even putting up a fight.

I wonder just how far she will make it?
Vega’s friend, April.

Vega and his crew, along with their two civilian passengers, are lucky enough to avoid the insect wave. They reach the colony in time to see the Collectors start their collecting activities, and start to devise a plan that will hopefully free the colonists and get them all to safety. Up to this point, the story has been pretty lackluster, but it is at this point that the movie actually turns around to become rather interesting. Most every point in the second game that the Collectors are involved, Shepard and his team arrive after everything has happened, so there is never really a good chance to see them in action for a while. This movie does a good job of showing how they work while gathering colonists, as well as doing a pretty decent job of getting you attached to some of the colonists and Vega’s crew. The movie also earns its title pretty well, facing Vega- who is obsessed with the stories of Commander Shepard, and wants to be the same kind of hero- with incredibly hard decisions that involve at times choosing who will live and who will die, something no commander can do easily.

The biggest upsides to the film are the story, which starts slow but actually manages to become interesting before the end. The characters are mostly likable in their own way, except for the ones that you are supposed to hate, who all feel a bit forced in their wicked ways. Vega is definitely the strongest character, but each member of his crew is pretty great, and the movie does a good job of making viewers feel for the characters when they are faced with tragedy and mayhem. The main downside, unfortunately, is the animation. The anime comes from Studio I.G., who have a very hit and miss record when it comes to animation. They have made some high-quality shows, but this does not show their animation very well. The absolute worst is when the movie decides that it needs to use CGI animation as opposed to regular anime style. Every time this happens, the atmosphere of the scene is destroyed. All in all, the movie was much better than expected, though still far from being a masterpiece. Overall, the movie is a C. The animation keeps it from being great, and the story itself takes a while to actually become interesting. Still, if one is a fan of the earlier Mass Effect games, then this may be something worth watching.

The movie does a pretty good job of showing how hard some decisions can be to make.
Rewarded for his efforts, but at what cost?

And with that, the review is over! With the Summer anime season fast approaching, this may be one of the last single series reviews for a while, as the style will be returning to the weekly reviews of singular episodes in a handful of series. How are readers enjoying the looks at full-length anime series and movies? Is this something that should happen again? Does anyone even like Mass Effect anymore? Leave your comments below and let us know how you feel! As for now, Thanks for reading, and keep on watching.


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