A recent 13 episode Japanese Animation television series. Also known as "Ima, soko ni iru boku." It is being released in English by Central Park Media.

Shu's your everyday kid - he practices kendo at a nearby dojo and worries about asking out a girl he likes. Things like that. But one day, when he's walking home from kendo practice, he sees a young girl sitting atop a smokestack. He quickly climbs up another smokestack and tries to make conversation. Eventually, he learns the strange girl's name: "Lala Ru."

Suddenly, the area surrounding the smokestacks is enclosed by a strange sphere-shaped barrier, and a strange woman appears on another smokestack. She says that she has been looking for Lala Ru. Several strange robots grab the girl, and begin to carry her off. Shu attempts to fight back with a broken piece of debris, but he fails and the entire area is teleported to another place and time.

We learn that he has arrived at Hellywood, a strange battleship in the distant future, where the sun is a giant in the sky and the Earth is a barren wasteland. Hellywood is commanded by King Hamdo, an insane man who needs Lala Ru and her pendant to help him conquer the world. He is assisted by the previously mentioned woman, Abelia.

Shu, who has been pursued by Hamdo's forces since his arrival, is quickly captured and beaten by Hamdo and Abelia, who hope to get Shu to reveal the location of Lala Ru's pendant, which was lost in the chaos. Eventually, he is drafted into Hamdo's army - a strange group of men and children of various ages.

And that about sums up the first 4-5 episodes of this dark and violent story (although I have left out many of the details). Don't be fooled by the art style or the credits of the director (most of which are comedy series) - the story is dark and gripping, and I cannot wait until I have a chance to get the next two DVDs in this series. I just hope they live up to the superb first volume.