Title: Chikyuu Shoujo Arjuna
Alernate Titles: Earth Girl Arjuna, Earth Maiden Arjuna, 地球少女アルジュナ
Aired: January 09, 2001 to March 27, 2001
Director: Shoji Kawamori
Voice Actor(s): Mami Higashiyama as Juna Ariyoshi
OP: “Mameshiba” by Maaya Sakamoto (episode 10)
ED: “Mameshiba” by Maaya Sakamoto (episodes 01, 02, 05, 06, 08, 11), “Sanctuary” by Maaya Sakamoto (episodes 03, 09), “Kuuki no Hoshi” by Maaya Sakamoto (episode 04), “Teresa” by Yoko Kanno (episode 07), “Bike” by Sakamoto Maaya (episode 10), “Early Bird” by Chinatsu Yamamoto (episode 12), “Saigo no Mameshiba” by Sakamoto Maaya (episode 13).
Juna was just an ordinary high-school girl, right up until the day she died in a motorcycle accident. But there, in the twilight of death, she saw the future of the barren earth destroyed by the Raaja, and was offered a second chance at life if she would stop them. Now she must learn to cast aside her thoughtlessly destructive ways and face her destiny as the Avatar of Time, the one being who can decide the fate of the planet. All information comes from My Anime List. Everything after the cut spoils the entire series. Please don’t read unless you’ve seen the anime.
The first impression that I got from this anime is that this anime is going to deal with a lot of environmental issues that still plague the world today but it’s going to have some sort of action in it. The art actually reminded me of something from “Tenchi Muyo!” but it’s a bit more messy than it. Plus, you can tell that the CGI didn’t age very well but it’s not detrimental of the story. It felt very much like it’s imcompleted, somehow but the landscapes are from from that. The landscapes are breathtaking and gorgeous and really pops out from the actual characters.
Going by the first episode by itself, it goes into it immediately along with the action of her powers, even if she’s not “truly” woken up. But the episodes after that seemed to grind to a halt; it’s mostly because Chris, the person who saved Juna’s life from death, who is gravely ill and disabled – when he fights, he doesn’t fight physically. Instead, his spirit seems to leave his body at will and fights for him. He’s also a telepathic and has a young girl, Cindy, to translate for him because he can’t talk on his own.
The thing is – Juna keeps misunderstanding him. She, including the audience, assumes that by stopping the Raaja, she has to kill them.
Raaja are demons from the earth who, after a period of time, cannot handle mankind’s pollution anymore so it retaliates by attacking the humans and whatever it is that’s hurting the planet. Juna’s job is to, really, retain these demons from causing anymore harm on the earth rather than actually killing it. However, she needs to understand why she retains them instead just of using the arrow and besides the obvious answers of protecting the earth and her loved ones.
Along for the ride is Juna’s boyfriend, Tokio who is a typical rich kid and will follow Juna to the ends of the earth. The series mostly focuses on their relationship as Juna’s powers prevent her from doing the normal teenage stuff they used to do before (mostly eat hamburgers or consume junk food). He really doesn’t understand what’s going on and truly does love her but it’s hard for him to understand. Even if Juna attempts to explain it to him, it’s just gets lost under the muddle.
But truly, her powers are hard to explain if you don’t understand why it’s so important for the Avatar of Time to defend the earth and it’s important to understand why the Avatar of Time to defend the humans.
Unlike most series, this one goes really hard and seriously goes all out to make Juna and the viewer to understand that: all life is important. In one of the episodes, they talk about babies and hearing their voices before they’re born. Juna’s older sister, Kaine, whom Juna already has a strained relationship with, is pregnant and Juna tries hard to convince her not to abort the baby; but only because Juna could hear her son within her sister.
A lot of the side stories and characters remain open ended and up for interpretation but for good reason. Something like this does not need a definitive answer from the side characters because the side characters are also real life human beings. Juna may have convinced her sister to keep the baby or maybe not. She never took away her sister’s agency to abort but only gave her a different train of thought – there’s an unheard baby in all of those who can conceive them. We may or may not be able to hear it but it’s really up to you what to do with it.
Usually in magical girl anime, there’s a always some form of focus on the relationship. This anime does just that. A lot of it is introspection about the world around us, true, but it also focuses on the relationships Juna had or have. In the case of her father, he ran off with another woman and chose to stay with her because it was easier than facing her mother about the affair. Sayuri loves Tokio and even though she loves her friend Juna, she couldn’t help but strain that friendship because of Juna’s sudden shift in personality. Her feelings towards Tokio were just that much stronger and especially since Tokio was having trouble coping with Juna. Juna’s relationship with her mother and sister are so very important – after all, your mother is the one who kept you safe in her womb and your sister is your blood relative. If we are all connected, then it’s even more so important to consider your relationship with your family.
SEED are those militant environmentalists that help people like Juna, Chris, and Cindy protect the earth from pollution, world hunger, and all those very important issues but they’re mostly put in the back burner since this is more about Juna’s awakening. They’re a great addition, nevertheless, and also add to the dire importance of Juna realizing the message sooner before anything worse could have happened.
One of the things I really liked about this anime is that they mixed in a variation of live action and animation (however messy and out dated it actually is) to really drive home the point about saving the earth and how we’re all connected to everything and everyone around us. For some, this could be really out of place in regards to the tone of the anime or the current episode but it’s still really important. If we don’t make that connection and if we don’t truly understands what is the point of Juna even bothering saving the world, then there’s not a lot at stake. The stakes are not placed high enough for us, the audience, to fully understand why this earth is crumbling and dying a painful death.
Juna, though, is still very much a high school girl and she’s very much still a human. She pushes Tokio away in an effort to protect him from danger but even with her own insistence, she just can’t leave him alone. She loves him so very much but she does not want him to put in danger because of her.
Granted, there’s not a lot of action sequences in this anime that people can marvel at but that’s the whole point: what is Juna fighting for? Why is she fighting them? Why is she protecting them? Why is it so important that Juna knows how food is made and where it came from?
Why do you kill?
That’s the question that Chris always asked Juna and with Juna, the audience is just as annoyed and angry about its meaning until the very last episode. But because the audience is angry, it means that they’re thinking. It means that they’re considering everything that they’ve done – eating out at McDonalds, throwing away a meaningless piece of plastic on the ground, the boring rituals we do every day to make us think we’ve done a job well done. That’s not to say everything is fruitless and has no meaning. There is meaning in what we do. Maybe it’s not as deep as we liken it and maybe it isn’t. However, everything we do and don’t do is important in the grand scheme of things.
Granted, this anime is extremely preachy when it comes to the environment of the earth but the message really is clear: we are one. We are one. The more pollution we put into our bodies, the more pollution we produce. We lose our meaning when we push aside our feelings and emotions for the sake of something mass produced. Maybe there’s a temporary joy in material items but, essentially, we’re not communicating with one another not because of technology – because we forgot that we are all one and the same.
And it’s so important for Juna to understand that so she can protect those who are still alive from ourselves.