The Laws of the Universe: The Age of Elohim
19 Apr 2022
Ryuho Okawa, Sayaka Okawa
Brittany Cox, Aleks Le, John Snyder
Where to start with The Laws of the Universe: The Age of Elohim? No really, where to start? This theological, ambitious anime is likely to be overwhelming for even veterans of a genre that is often incomprehensible to the uninitiated. A baffling hodgepodge of religious fables, varying quality of animation and disappointing voiceover and translation work (in this English language version) make this evangelical epic an overall let-down.
150 million years ago, a peaceful society of alien lifeforms is thrown into chaos as Earth, under the watch of the God Elohim, is attacked by dark messenger Dahar (Aleks Le). The warrior Yaizael (Brittany Cox) is sent to protect the planet, and is joined by a collective of Earthlings and alien races who look to fight back against the darkness. But Dahar’s plan involves corrupting those within Elohim’s army, including the powerful archangel warriors who fight alongside Amor (John Snyder), a powerful, peace-preaching ally.
Age of Elohim’s scale and size are its ultimate downfall. A truly epic, universe-spanning conflict, involving battles between gigantic armies of endless alien races and moral conflict between literal gods of creation, it fails to ever instil genuine interest or personality into its vast collection of characters. From seemingly original creations such as Yaizael (the closest thing the film has to a true protagonist) to characterisations of Jesus and Satan themselves, beyond vanilla beliefs in love or hate, or good and evil, no-one seems to have anything beyond the most basic of motivations. For all the world-ending consequences that arise, without the audience’s connections to the characters in danger, there’s only so much one can care as a viewer.
The plot itself is also difficult to connect with. You would need a wall-chart to keep up with the overwhelming list of characters, their relations and alliances with each other. Viewers are thrust headfirst into an ongoing conflict which receives little explanation, and the various religious allegories are thrown together awkwardly and unnaturally. It leads to a flat and empty story that even a seemingly never-ending council scene cannot satisfactorily explain.
The animation is varied throughout. The grand and ethereal palaces, battlefields, vistas and space bodies and stunningly designed and epically realised to create for an effective, otherworldly atmosphere to the film. Other designs such as the hellscape lair of the villain, or the numerous transfigurations for increasingly over-the-top battles are anime 101, but will satisfy fans of the genre. However basic conversations are held statically – appearing cheap and lazy. It’s a bad habit that animated films have displayed, but particularly notable here.
The voiceovers are also somewhat uninspired, and dialogue in many scenes appears to be poorly translated and almost nonsensical. The cast make an effort to ham up the lines they are given (particularly Aleks Le), but this only works to a degree. The script itself is lazy, including eye-rolling diatribes on defeating darkness and how girls cannot fight, which feel reductive and stereotypical. The evangelical messaging is loud and proud throughout the film – to the point of an off-putting preachiness. And whilst musical asides are a staple of plenty of Anime films, they are far too numerous here given their confusing and uninspired nature, and result in the film’s momentum grinding to a halt.
Beyond some spectacular visuals, The Laws of the Universe: The Age of Elohim offers little that has not been accomplished far more effectively in other anime films – beyond committed religious interpretation that is likely to confuse anyone outside of theological scholars.