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Errinundra's Beautiful Fighting Girl #133: Taiman Blues: Ladies' Chapter - Mayumi


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Errinundra
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Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 6535
Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2020 5:03 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl index
****

Beltane70 wrote:
...M-66 was one of my earliest OVAs that I saw back in the days before anime had domestic releases here in the States. My friends and I actually had to watch this totally raw!


At least it should have been comprehensible, not like Ai City.


Last edited by Errinundra on Mon Feb 14, 2022 3:39 am; edited 1 time in total
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:04 am Reply with quote
This review was originally posted on 18 July 2021, but has been subsequently moved here so the Beautiful Fighting Girls survey can be read in the chronological order of the original released dates.

****

I'm reviewing this 50 minute OAV out of sequence for the simple reason that, until recently, only fragments could be tracked down. Unlike its 1994 remake, the original version was only ever released in Japan. Happily it was recently fansubbed, affording me the opportunity to review it.

Beautiful Fighting Girl #82: Lipmira Gweiss,



MAPS
(Maps: Densetsu no Samayoeru Seijintachi, ie Maps: Space Wanderers of Legend)

Synopsis: Lipmira Gweiss is a sentient, angel-shaped spaceship who can project herself as a human female when dealing with other life forms. Formerly the transport of a now centuries dead pirate, and still obedient to her mission program, she travels the galaxy in search of a gem of enormous value and power, known as the Surging Light. Arriving at earth she discovers a Mapman - Tokyo schoolboy Gen Tokishima - who has the Antarctic location of the gem encoded in his DNA. Lipmira abducts Gen along with his girlfriend Hoshimi Kimizuka, only to have rival alien pirates attack them. When a new threat appears from under the surface of the moon, the pirates and the earthlings must settle their differences before they have any chance of completing the quest.

Production details:
Release date: 14 July 1987
Director: Keiji Hayakawa (Nobara no Julie, Paris no Isabelle, Meiken Jolie, Spoon Oba-san, Chikkun Takkun, Prefectural Earth Defense Force, Kiteretsu Daihyakka and Taiga Adventure)
Studio: Gallop Co Ltd (founded by ex-Mushi Pro staff)
Source material: the manga マップス (MAPS) by Yūichi Hasegawa, published in Monthly Comic Nora from 1985 to 1994
Screenplay: Kenji Terada
Music: Kōhei Tanaka
Character design: Hatsuki Tsuji
Art director: Shichirō Kobayashi and Tadashi Katayama
Animation Director: Hatsuki Tsuji


Lipmira as humanoid (rescuing Gen) and as spaceship.

Comments: Uncovering MAPS ended up a disappointment, proving itself yet another cheaply produced OAV trying to hit otaku pay dirt with a typical 1980s blend of sci-fi, the supernatural, an apocalyptic scenario, a spunky female alien, tentacles, a lecherous schoolboy along with his complaining girlfriend and stock-standard 1980s character designs. All this is underlined, and undermined, by a comic emphasis redolent of the era - at once goofy, slapstick and verging on cruel. The end result is a plot that hovers between inconsequential and ridiculous, characters I didn't care about and humour that hasn't aged well.

First, though, I want to give the show its props. The stand-out feature of the OAV is Lipmira, though as an artefact, not as a character. She's quite the cool concept and eye-catching in her, novel for anime at the time, spaceship form. The design was inspired by the "Spirit of Ecstasy" ornament found on the bonnets of Rolls Royce cars. Only the one spaceship of the type appears in the 1987 OAV, which, at 51 minutes, doesn't have the time to explore the concept, but it seems the long-running manga had multiple such craft, each with its own personality. According to the font of all knowledge they came to be nicknamed "Hood Ornaments". Lipmira doesn't transform between spaceship and human forms - both exist simultaneously - but they share a single consciousness. Likewise, damage to the spaceship will result in injury to the humanoid at the corresponding location on her body. Draped in what appear to be flimsy ribbons, her human form was also meant to catch the eyes of her intended audience, however the 1987 time warp design hasn't carried well into 2021. She has a perky, teasing personality and, despite lacking any underlying malice and being open to reason, is quite capable of pursuing her goals, however moribund, without regard to the consequences for others. Like so many otaku premium females she's remote and self-sufficient; perfect as the object of desire without risk or commitment.


Clockwise from top left: Gen & Hoshimi; kawaii alien worker bots; the evil Mibarihan; and pirate leader Abe Edinburgh.

Aside from Lipmira and the monstrous Mibarihan (and more on him shortly), the remaining characters are primarily comedic. Gen is a variation on Ataru Moroboshi from Urusei Yatsura or Tetsuya Wakatsuki from Outlanders. Sure, he's the point of view character, but his ever-suffering girlfriend Hoshimi sums him up neatly when she explains to Lipmira that, "He's a generic, ordinary, air-headed high-school student, you know?" For her part Hoshimi is a teenage version of a nagging housewife, but given the material she has to work with, ie Gen, I can hardly blame her. To their credit both have gumption, so their decision at the end to write their own map by sailing the heavens with Lipmira isn't an entire surprise (and just might get viewers checking out their adventures in the manga). The clownish behaviour of the rival pirate ship captain belies the fact that he's actually a robot. At least he had the sense to know when to abandon his opposition to Lipmira and join forces with her. More appealing by far are his yellow headed worker robots. They look like Doctor Who's Cybermen after swallowing kawaii pills and share (from Crusher Joe) Dongo's predilection for porn magazines. (I'm not sure if cute and sketchy go together convincingly.)

The humour doesn't work for me: that peculiar brand of Japanese comedy - prevalent in the 80s - where the victims suffer humiliation, physical pain, and / or abuse from the other characters. It's rarely clever and often cringe inducing. Behind it lies cruelty. Oddly, I had an unexpected conjunction in my anime watching experiences this week when the newly released Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul arrived on Friday. (The Melbourne cinema release got the kibosh from Covid.) Both it and MAPS have a scene where a young male body is probed by sinister forces (see image below). The two scenes portray the cruelty of the violation in a surprisingly similar way, but the differing sensibilities of the 1980s and the 2020s are notable. The older anime plays the violence for laughs while the newer film emphasises the horror. In other ways they are similar: both use cruelty to elicit an emotional response (laughter v horror); neither explores the psychological, social or sexual bases of the darker sides of human behaviour. (Certainly the Made in Abyss franchise explores the different ways cruelty can manifest itself. It might also be argued that the abyss itself is an allegory for the worst aspects of our natures.) MAPS extends the violation to sexual abuse when Gen assaults Hoshimi, without warning or consent, in a contrived plan to escape imprisonment. Again, it's played for laughs.


Cruelty as entertainment.

A fifty minute show with an epic back story and (literally) earth-shattering climax was always going to be riddled with plot holes and narrative short cuts, especially when much of the screen time is taken up with dumb comedy. The existence of a gigantic brain - Mibarihan - lying in wait inside the moon for millennia is never explained, nor how it fed or occupied itself. I mean, a brain requires an enormous amount of energy to maintain. And what did it do for amusement? I'm reminded of Marvin from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, who has a brain the size of a planet yet must wait in a car park until the end of the universe. Mibarihan, who is mostly brain, really does take up a significant portion of the moon's volume. Funnily enough, when he arrives in Antarctica he fits comfortably into a crevice. Did he shrink on the journey? If so, how did that affect his intelligence. And why didn't Gen and Hoshimi, dressed only in their school uniforms, not die of exposure at the South Pole? Science fiction, even comic science fiction, demands verisimilitude for credibility. The anime's dumb humour and narrative incompetence, not helped by the Mibarihan's design, makes that impossible.

The artwork and animation is in the lower half of OAV releases reviewed in this survey to date. Even the more elaborate designs and backgrounds, Lipmira aside, are forgettable. The music occasionally promises to break out into a Project A-ko celebration of cheesiness, but stubbornly remains stillborn. It's like the OAV generally: so much is suggested; so little is delivered.

Rating: weak.
+ Lipmira; Abe Edinburgh's robot crew
- daft, boorish humour; uninteresting characters other than Lipmira; incoherent plot elements; Mibarihan

Resources:
ANN
Mike Toole, Tales from the Bottom Shelf
The font of all knowledge
The Anime Encyclopaedia 3rd Revised Edition: A Century of Japanese Animation, Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press via Kindle
The people who fansubbed this: their efforts deserved a more favourable review.


Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:06 am; edited 4 times in total
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Errinundra
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Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2020 4:31 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girls #83: Persia Hayami, Yuu Morisawa, Mai Kanzaki & Yumi Hanazono are the...


Standing are the three transforming Studio Pierrot girls in their altered states (l-r): Persia as Magical Fairy Persia;
Yuu as Magical Angel Creamy Mami; and Mai as Magical Star Magical Emi.
Floorbound Yumi (Magical Idol Pastel Yumi) can't transform, which may explain why she's looking out of it.
(I wonder if Shaft's Magica Quartet is an arcane shout out to Pierrot's original team.)


Majokko Club Yoningumi - A Kuukan Kara no Alien X
(perhaps Magical Girl Club Quartet: Alien X of Zone A)

Synopsis: Invading alien tentacle monsters are turning school girls into old hags. The armed forces - impotent in the face of this diabolical threat - kidnap Yuu, Persia, Mai and Yumi in the hope they can combat the menace. Problem, is the girls have, under the terms of their original contracts, relinquished their magical powers. The military promptly dump them back in the street where massed tentacles lie in wait to pursue them. Hope drains away until, unexpectedly, their wands, bracelets etc etc are returned to them before they find themselves transported to the home world of the mother of all tentacle monsters. Yumi uses her wand to create temporary power suits that enable the quartet to despatch the horror.

But that's not what's really happening.

Production details:
Premiere: 28 July 1987
Director and storyboard: Tsuneo Tominaga
Script: Mami Watanabe & Sukehiro Tomita
Character Design: Hiroki Takagi
Art Director: Eiko Hamada
Animation Director: Hiroki Takagi

Comments: Self-aware, meta-narrative game playing has been part of the landscape I've been surveying ever since the GoShogun TV series. That parody of all things Gundam, Go Nagai, and giant robots generally, first aired in July 1981 and was shortly followed by Daicon III and by the epic, absurd Super Dimension Fortress Macross just over a year later. Post-Toei magical girl series have been happy to indulge in the same sort of antics to varying degrees: Ashi Pro's Fairy Princess Minky Momo revelled in its meta- gags; whereas the four Studio Pierrot series mostly restricted themselves to visual shout outs. The sequel film Creamy Mami: Long Good-bye went a step further for Pierrot, with its opening battle between the protagonist and her rival, Minky Momo. (YouTube link.) Majokko Club Yoningumi - A Kuukan Kara no Alien X extends the magical girl parody to thirty minutes of good-natured, self-indulgent fun.


Top row: Persia's hair wins every time.
Middle: the power suits come hot on the (high) heels of Bubblegum Crisis.
Bottom left: the military defers to magic girls - as it should.
Bottom right: the true perpetrator of the crimes against humanity reveals itself.


My synopsis is actually the script of a live television special that the four magical girls are making for JTV - produced by Mai / Emi's avaricious mentor Shigeru Koganei and directed by the Mamoru Oshii lookalike from Magical Angel Creamy Mami. (Koganei even addresses the director as Mamo-chan.) Straight away the OAV is creating multiple layers in its narrative structure. Magical Girl Club Quartet gives us a story written and directed by a Studio Pierrot employee about a broadcast of a story by a fictional studio with four players from four other unrelated stories, supposedly directed by another real life Studio Pierrot employee, though animated. The OAV will eventually reveal that that the real life studio concocted the whole thing... Which it did, but also apparently within the story on screen. This is getting into serious postmodern territory. Happily, the whole thing is done with a breezy, good-humoured absurdity. The meta-fictional gags proceed apace. The viewer is aware (or should be) that the girls no longer have any magical powers, so the general's inevitable disappointment after kidnapping the girls and prostrating himself before them is eagerly anticipated. This point is further rubbed in when the tentacle monsters trap the powerless girls in a church. Just as they about to be turned into hags, the broadcast transmission is interrupted when director Mamo-chan presses the wrong button on the studio console. In a desperate bid to buy time he inserts a "stimulating" sunburn lotion ad featuring Creamy Mami at her most luscious. Catch is, the voice-over reveals that the ad is "current" - so how can she be Mami? A subtle gag, and easy to miss. Creamy Mami's appearance in a bathing costume highlights the anime's awareness just how deeply it is "rooted in sexual subtext" (to awkwardly insert a quote from Clements and McCarthy). The tentacle monsters ram the point home. This isn't the first magical girl show to blend tentacles with magical girls - Dream Hunter Rem has that distinction - but it is the first to feature established and otherwise family-friendly characters. I'm left wondering who the OAV's intended audience was. Perhaps the original magical girl shows weren't meant for children in the first place?

Other than the 2½ minute prelude to Long Good-Bye, this is the only time that the Pierrot heroines grasp weapons and fight. The four original series were imbued with a hippie-like tone of anti-violence. The OAV's violation of this trope actually adds to the overall absurdity, without any sour aftertaste. The army general's grovelling pleas for help accentuate the effect. In the wake of Daicon IV and Cream Lemon the conjunction of violence with magical girls has become more common. (The sexual subtext was always present.) Whether that's a good thing - the violence (or the sex, for that matter) - is up to you, but I will say that it has broadened their thematic possibilities.

I'll finish off with some random observations. When their power comes back to them the four rattle of their individual magical incantations one after the other. The effect is humorous: "Pinpuru Panpuru Pamupoppun Pararin Ririkaru Parapora Majikaru Perukko Raburin Kurukuru Rinkuru Pasuteru Poppuru Poppinpa." Was that scripted? Or did the seiyuu make it up as they went along? The prevailing absurdity ensured I laughed. (Hey! There was no "Papurikko!") Their declaration as they prepare to nuke the mother monster makes for a resounding magical girl manifesto, "For the sake of boys we love... We will never become old women!!" The monster itself is a huge, vegetative bulb that, in a dark parody of the flower from Leda - The Fantastic Adventure of Yohko, spews out phallic tentacles instead of phallic girls. The flower form presages the monster that Azaka Kokuto kills in film six of the Garden of Sinners (which film would actually meet the definition of a magical girl anime).

Rating: decent.
+ fun
- slight




Resources:
ANN
The font of all knowledge
The Anime Encyclopaedia, Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press via Kindle


Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:07 am; edited 6 times in total
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Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3908
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2020 12:45 pm Reply with quote
I’m surprised that Akemi Takada wasn’t the character designer for this OVA considering that she did the original designs of two of the four characters from their shows!
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2020 3:23 pm Reply with quote
Beltane70 wrote:
I’m surprised that Akemi Takada wasn’t the character designer for this OVA considering that she did the original designs of two of the four characters from their shows!


Especially given that the character designs haven't been updated at all.


Last edited by Errinundra on Sun Jul 04, 2021 4:09 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jose Cruz



Joined: 20 Nov 2012
Posts: 1779
Location: South America
PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 6:51 pm Reply with quote
Sorry to get out all the way to this old post but I was reading it and it made me think.

Errinundra wrote:
It's a new year and a new page so I'm starting a new project. An epic project. It could take years.

Anime's Beautiful Fighting Girls

It is my contention that the signal feature of anime, beyond its visual cues, and what sets it apart from non-Japanese cartoons, isn't giant robots, nor is it limited to magical girls. I cannot think of any other narrative artform where female protagonists are presented with such frequency and variety as there are in anime and where the audience is primarily male. It's a most peculiar thing.


I read that surveys show that most manga readers in Japan are female and I note that most manga feature male main characters. But that doesn't mean that most the audience consumes manga with main characters of different genders: The manga titles where 80-90% of the audience is female feature female main characters, while even the manga titles aimed at males like Shounen Jump's have large female readership but the majority of readers and characters are of the same gender.

Regarding anime, I think it is more male-aimed than manga and has some differences in terms of characteristics. But anime it is heavily influenced by manga as nearly all the biggest shows are manga adaptations: In 2019, the biggest shows in terms of a combination of positive critical reception and popularity were Attack on Titan, Vinland Saga, and Demon Slayer. All three were manga adaptations and featured male main characters.

What I think is special about anime is the fact that the popular anime titles among anime fans that do not have a correspondingly popular manga serialized in a major magazine (often have a relatively niche manga like those Manga Time Kirara adaptations) is that they are the ones with female main characters aimed at male audiences (from Bubblegum Crisis and Ghost in the Shell, to Made in Abyss and Girls Last Tour).

I guess that this "gender inversion" effect of audiences consuming narratives with characters of their inverse gender is because the fantastical nature of animation allows audiences to disconnect further from their reality and emphasize with situations and characters that are completely different from what they encounter in real life. That is, the "abstract" nature of anime makes it easier for audiences who already manage to suspend disbelief regarding the highly stylized visual style to also empathize with characters who look very different from them.

While manga is often stylized it is slightly less visually aggressive than anime, on average, and most manga aimed at readers over the age of 25 features more realistic art and settings. So the "gender inversion" is also less common in those mangas (what I am talking about is manga like 20th Century Boys and Monster).

Quote:
Well, I'm nothing if not ambitious. We shall see how it all goes.


Well, its been 3 years already (time flies doesn't it?), it looks like it is going well so far. Wink
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Errinundra
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Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2020 4:10 am Reply with quote
Thanks. Time has flown! I find it hard to believe at times. Even if I stopped now (and I'm not planning to) the project has proven itself worthwhile. Well, for me at least.

You make some interesting arguments. I also wonder whether, in conjunction with your point about anime's "fantastical nature" encouraging audiences to "empathize with characters who look very different from them", the male viewers of anime are innately more apt to accept female protagonists. Without going as far as Tamaki Saito's theories about otaku fantasies, it seems possible to me that male anime fans on average don't find conventional masculine models of behaviour as compelling as their non anime watching peers might and, hence, are more open to having female protagonists in their stories.

Another argument might be that what we are getting are male protagonists depicted in female bodies, ie a variation on the idea of the phallic girl. I would argue that to a point, but these days gender definitions are so open, so indeterminate and so contested, and it's not just gender, that it's becoming ever easier to admire or relate to someone who once-upon-a-time would have seemed alien. I would proudly assert that many anime fans are ahead of the game in this regard.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:08 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl marginalia: Kajika,

The Phoenix: Yamato Chapter


Kajika looks on in dismay as the man she loves, the man who has killed her brother,
escapes behind a wall of fire laid down by the firebird, the supposed guardian of her people.


Synopsis: Prince Oguna is sent by his father, the ruler of the Yamato court in the Kofun period (300-538 CE and named after the giant burial mounds of the time), to cross the borderlands into the barbarian realm of the Kyushu people, and there to assassinate its leader, Takeru. On his journey he encounters the legendary firebird and also falls in love with Takeru's sister, Kajika. After carrying out his task he flees Kyushu with Kajika in pursuit, but escapes under the protection of the firebird. He arrives home to learn from his three older brothers that their father, who has recently died and who had loathed and feared Oguna, had given him the task in the hope that he would be killed. With his father's kofun nearing completion Oguna also learns that Kajika has been captured and is to be buried alive with other vassals to serve the former king in the afterlife. When he attempts to free her and the other sacrificial victims, he is captured and sentenced by his brothers to be buried along with them. The firebird intervenes in an unexpected way in order to make apparent to the Yamato rulers the cruelty of their traditions.

Production details:
Release date: 01 August 1987
Director: Toshio Hirata (worked on the early Toei films before joining Osamu Tezuka at Mushi Pro to provide artwork for Kimba the White Lion; directed Chiisana Jumbo, Unico: Short Story, The Fantastic Adventures of Unico, Chiisana Koi no Monogatari - Chichi to Sally Hatsukoi no Shiki, Bobby's Girl, Barefoot Gen 2, Grimm Douwa - Kin no Tori, Hoero! Bun Bun, Fair, then Partly Piggy, Donguri to Yamaneko, Easy Cooking Animation: Seishun no Shokutaku, Symphonic Poem: Jungle Emperor Leo, Little Twins and Little Twins: Bokura no Natsu ga Tondeiku, Rail of the Star - A True Story of Children and War, Kappa no Sanpei, and Pet Shop of Horrors)
Studios: Madhouse and Tezuka Pro
Source material: adapted from Hi no Tori: Yamato-hen by Osamu Tezuka, published in COM magazine from 1968 to 1969.
Screenplay: Hideo Takayashiki and Tomoko Konparu
Character design and animation director: Akio Sakai
Art director: Satoshi Matsuoka
Sound director: Susumu Aketagawa

Notes:
1. Three of the four producers listed in ANN are significant in the history of manga and anime. Co-executive producer Haruki Kadokawa is part of the Kadokawa dynasty, being the son of its founder, Genyoshi Kadokawa. Masao Maruyama and Rintaro both worked with Tezuka at Mushi Pro but, unlike director Toshi Hirata who joined Tezuka at Tezuka Pro when Mushi foundered, they co-founded Madhouse Studios. The collaboration between the two studios for this OAV seems like a case of old mates getting back together. (Tezuka, Rintaro and Hirata had each worked on Alakazam the Great at Toei.) Rintaro was already an established director by the time of this OAV. Among his director credits are Astro Boy: Hero of Space; Kimba the White Lion, Moomin, Space Pirate Captain Harlock, the movie version of Galaxy Express 999 and its sequel Adieu Galaxy Express 999, Harmagedon, The Phoenix: Ho-o Chapter, the Labyrinth segment from Neo Tokyo, Tezuka Osamu Story: I Am Son-Goku, The New Adventures of Kimba the White Lion, X (movie), Metropolis, Space Pirate Captain Herlock The Endless Odyssey and Yona Yona Penguin.
2. Two other famous directors worked on this OAV. The more significant of the two is Morio Asaka, who began his career on this project and who gets an assistant director credit. His director roles include Mermaid's Scar, Phantom Quest Corp, the Cardcaptor Sakura franchise, the Galaxy Angel franchise, Chobits, the first season of Gunslinger Girl, NANA, the Chihayafuru franchise and My Love Story!!. The other future director was Takeshi Koike who actually started his career on the OAV's earlier companion piece, The Phoenix: Ho-o Chapter, under Rintaro. He gets an in-between animation credit and would later direct Trava, the World Record segment of The Animatrix, Redline, three Lupin III movies: Jigen's Gravestone, Goemon's Blood Spray and Fujiko Mine's Lie, and pilots for Afro Samurai and Iron Man.


Kajika and Oguna.

Comments: Once more I return to The Phoenix, Osamu Tezuka's ambitious manga on love, life and renewal. As part of the survey I've covered two anime inspired by the epic series, even if they aren't adaptations: Space Firebird 2772 (review here) and, more tangentially, Marvellous Melmo (review here), while others have clear thematic links. Tezuka combines the legendary bird's rebirth through the ordeal of fire with his own visions of human renewal. Love is analogous to the Phoenix: our lives burn out but the fruits of our love continue afterwards; new social order is born from the destruction of the old. For Tezuka love is the primary force of the universe. Again I shall bring up my favourite Tezuka quote, What I try to [say] through my works is simple… just a simple message that follows: "Love all the creatures! Love everything that has life!" I have been trying to express this message in every one of my works.

The Yamato chapter illustrates Tezuka's vision on several levels. The Yamato culture is cruel, death obsessed and moribund. It might yet, however, become the seed upon which the Japanese nation grows. The Kyushu culture is vigorous, barbaric and doomed to displacement by the more sophisticated Yamato people. A flute-playing outcast man from one nation infiltrates the other, forms a bond with a woman, then knifes the ruler before a backdrop of celebratory flames and dancing revellers (with parallels to the assassination scene in Apocalypse Now). The seed of renewal is the love between Oguna and Kajika under the transcendental guidance of the firebird, who will make three crucial interventions: affirming to Oguna that he must kill Takeru, the Kyushu leader, and return to Yamato; creating a wall of protective flame when Kajika attempts to exact her revenge upon him; and bestowing grace upon the prisoners prior to their live burial atop the kofun. This last enables their spirits to endure, tormenting the surviving three brothers - principally through Oguna's ghostly flute recitals - and hastening the end of live burials. The story is based on the legend of Yamato Takeru, however Tezuka has transposed the name of the the Yamato prince onto the murdered Kyushu lord. Furthermore, the prince doesn't survive to continue the heroic exploits of the legend. It's as if the names and individuals are unimportant in a universe of constant repetition and renewal.

How well the anime integrates these thematic elements into the story and imagery is variable. Despite its limited budget the OAV is, until the final scenes, graceful and sensual. The brooding landscapes and use of empty spaces within the frames reminded me at times of Eiichi Yamamoto, particularly from Oshin and Belladonna of Sadness, without managing to be quite as risk taking nor as breathtaking. The uncredited synthesised music - presumably from music director Fumio Miyashita - too often sounds thin but tries hard to underpin the gravitas of the tale. The overall fatalistic tone is both lightened and enhanced by the relationship between Oguna and Kajika. The OAV captures sweetly the magic of their mutual discovery and their growing love, along with the awful dilemma facing Oguna between his loyalty to Yamato and his loyalty to Kajika, and her torment as she discovers the extent of his treachery. Unhappily, the ending can't match the rest of the OAV. Civilised, decadent Yamato seems pallid after the vigorous, honest Kyushu, with the two extremes reflected in the characters. Worse, what happens after the live burials is bizarre, and poorly enough realised that the OAV is at serious risk of blowing its credibility. I'm always waiting in a Tezuka story for the moment of goofiness (either deliberate or unintended) that undermines the prevailing serious thematic tone. This is one of the unintended lapses. It isn't a deal breaker - I happily recommend people watch it - but it does reduce my grade from very good to good.


Top row and bottom right: earth, air, fire and water are constant visual and thematic themes that enhance the mythic tone.
Bottom left: Oguna's cynical, decadent brothers.


In my review of Space Firebird 2772 I mentioned that Hayao Miyazaki's Forest Spirit from Princess Mononoke was a variation on Tezuka's Phoenix. Having now seen this OAV, the similarities have become much more apparent. Both have an outcast prince journeying afar and meeting a wild princess; both involve an aboriginal culture in the process of being displaced (although the origins of the two leads are reversed); in both the princess rescues the injured prince then cares and feeds him; both have a god-like spirit of renewal who dispenses life and death and who lives on an island in a lake surrounded by a mystically presented forest. Both will climax with renewal arising from destruction. I would suggest that the much superior Princess Mononoke is a rewrite of the anime version of Yamato-hen. That does not detract form Miyazaki's film in any way; it simply enhances my understanding of it.

Before I come to Kajika I'll briefly look at some of the other characters. Earnest and brave, Oguna is a typical anime protagonist from the Tezuka oeuvre and anime drama more generally to this time. That is, until we belatedly learn of his true mission to Kyushu. While is role as assassin and his deception of both Kajika and Takeru might damage the viewer's perception of him, it does make him more ambiguous and more interesting. Perhaps my issues with the OAV's conclusion stem from his loss of moral authority. He is redeemed, though, by his genuine love for Kajika. Leader of the Kyushu, Takeru, is big, gruff, vaguely threatening but thoughtful and genuinely concerned with the welfare of his sister and his people. His lack of wisdom will have him risk the future of the Kyushu in an attack on their more advanced Yamato rivals. It also leaves him open to Oguna's treachery, something exacerbated by his willingness to support his sister's choices. Oguna's three brothers are both comic and sinister. Their complete detachment from the feelings and suffering of others - other than bemusement - makes them more alarming than any evil laugh or demonic scheme could manage. The firebird itself, based upon the Chinese Fenghuang (known in Japan as Ho-o, and hence the title of one of the other chapters), lacks the gravitas and spellbinding presence of Miyazaki's Forest Spirit. It's Tezuka sweet and goofy, which I could do without. The design belies how ambiguous she really is, which I appreciate. Her support for Oguna's quest to kill Takeru confounded me at first. Had the ending been better I would have been more open to accepting her broader aims.

Kajika: I debated with myself for some time whether or not to include Kajika in the canon. In the end I decided against it, despite her classic fighting girl qualities, because she is neither the point of view character nor the protagonist. This isn't her story, even if she is intimately involved. That said, her autonomy is her most attractive quality. Her brother, the ruler of a nation, defers to her choices and it is she who pursues the understandably reluctant and torn Oguna, thereby proving herself of superior mettle to either. Nevertheless, like her brother she will completely misread Oguna's intentions. Kajika is an entirely serious female character in the mould of Nausicaä (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind), Remy Shimada (GoShogun: The Time Étranger) or the recently encountered Ayame Hayami (Yotoden) so Toshio Hirata and Akio Sakai have tried to soften things by giving her a round face and a catgirl diadem. The former reminded me too much of another recently encountered character, Lemon from Twinkle Heart - Gingakei made Todokanai, while the latter was something of an unnecessary distraction. Two opposing tendencies play out in her stance and features. As a hunter and leader, she has a commanding presence, yet the cast of her eye and the set of her mouth suggest doubt and unease. This simple contrast creates an instant depth to her character while suiting nicely her role in the narrative. She's the sort of character I have a predilection to like: genuine, autonomous, serious and conflicted.

Rating: good.
+ Kajika and the other main characters more generally, atmosphere, artwork, Tezuka's themes
- animation is simple, the Yamato scenes are less compelling than their Kyushu counterparts, the live burial sequence strains credibility

Resources:
ANN
The font of all knowledge
Osamu Tezuka site

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Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 8:47 am Reply with quote
I got to experience seeing a Kofun on my most recent Japan trip last August. While not the most famous, the Noge Otsuka Tomb near Todoroki Valley in Tokyo's Setagaya ward was quite interesting to see!
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 29, 2020 4:47 am Reply with quote
How about that! Five weekend reviews in a February. Such a thing can only happen twice in every seven leap years or once every fourteen years. Cool.

Beautiful Fighting Girls #84: Lamba Nom, Mia Alice and Pai Thunder,



Dangaioh

Synopsis: Earth is but one of many planets in the galaxy inhabited by humans. The space between the myriad planets is dominated by Captain Galimos and his Bunker space pirates who plunder them at will. Mad scientist Professor Tarsan abducts four psychic teenagers, erases their memories, augments their bodies and creates four rocket fighters they can pilot and combine to transform into the most powerful weapon in the universe: the giant robot Dangaioh. His plan to sell them to Galimos backfires when the four teenagers rebel against their fate. Fond of his creations, Tarsan finds himself supporting them as, one by one, they recover their memories and learn of their violent connections to the Bunker pirates. For his part Galimos determines to eradicate this threat to his authority by sending his most powerful killers in pursuit, led by Tarsan's spurned and treacherous prototype augmented human, Gil Berg.

Production details:
Original release date: 28 September 1987
Director, original creator, character design, screenplay & storyboards: Toshihiro (aka Toshiki) Hirano (Don't Do It, Mako! Mako Sexy Symphony arc of Cream Lemon; Fight! Iczer-One, Iczer Reborn and Iczelion, Great Dangaioh, the OAV and TV versions of Vampire Princess Miyu, Rayearth and Magic Knight Rayearth, and Baki, among others)
Studios: AIC & Artmic, despite their ongoing issues with Bubblegum Crisis.
Additional screenplay credits: Koichi Ohata & Noboru Aikawa
Additional storyboard credits: Akiyoshi Nishimori, Koichi Ohata & Masami Obari
Music: Kaoru Mizutani & Michiaki Watanabe
Mecha design: Koichi Ohata, Masami Obari, Yasushi Ishizu & Shoji Kawamori. The latter was the creative force behind much of the Macross franchise as well as The Vision of Escaflowne, Arjuna, Aquarion and AKB0048 among other things. His mechanical designs permeate anime from the 1970s to the present.

Comments: I've mentioned on and off in the survey that viewing titles in chronological order highlights how creative some shows can be and how female protagonists have developed over time. The opposite is also true: anime can be both highly derivative and backward looking. I guess it all comes down to the fine line between innovation and imitation or between failure and success. At the time of this release producers and creators would have been acutely aware of anime's recent history, but uncertain of where the art form would end up and, more importantly, under pressure to prevent company balance sheets from turning red. Viewed in this way Dangaioh reveals itself to be a mixture of Hirano's preoccupations along with an earnest attempt to combine current trends in the hope of finding the magic formula for success. The eponymous robot's inspiration in Go Nagai's giant combining robots such as Getter Robo is obvious, albeit with something of a tongue-in-cheek attitude à la the original GoShogun TV series, (though lacking the latter's clever humour), while the belated success of Mobile Suit Gundam also informs the mecha designs on display and their deployment in the action scenes. Current trends (in 1987 that is) were suggesting that, in the wake of Dirty Pair, squadrons of fighting females were a growing thing. Think Gall Force - Eternal Story and Bubblegum Crisis among others recently reviewed. So, it must have made sense to put them all together. Catch is, good anime depends on much more that ticking off individual database elements and Dangaioh largely fails on that measure. That said, one new development is the embedding of a token male character within the squadron. His "token" presence is an unintended irony, but more on him shortly. The women are more important. Or, I should say, the depiction of the women is more noteworthy.


Left (top to bottom): Mia Alice sends out psychic shock waves; Lamba Nom fires laser beams from her finger tips; and Pai Thunder has prodigious strength.
Right (top to bottom): Dangaioh (or Dangaio in Japan); and Roll Kran who can move at high speed and convert the kinetic energy into other forms.


Our previous encounters with Hirano were in the Don't Do It, Mako! Mako Sexy Symphony arc from the pornographic Cream Lemon and the comparatively mild tentacle sci-fi anime Fight! Iczer-One where a pair of girls pilot a non-combining giant robot. Dangaioh is toned down yet further, even if Mia, Pai and Lamba are depicted in sexualised ways. I'll mention two. (The images I've selected avoid them, though the screenshot below of Mia Alice and Gil Berg hints at the first). In all three Hirano anime I've covered in the survey the female characters' mouths are small but with full, fleshy lips often wordlessly open for expressive purposes but which also emphasises the mouth as orifice. Dangaioh also provides copious leg fanservice, if that's to your taste, embellishing the era's taste for well fleshed out bodies with glossy spandex apparel that presents the bodies as sites for worshipful caresses. The desired yet untouchable 2D girl is well and truly upon us. I draw attention to this, not only because the show may well appeal to my own fetishes, but because there isn't really all that much more to them. For sure, Mia is the point of view character, and probably the most powerful of them, and each has a dilemma to face as their memories return, but their main purpose is decorative: hot chicks available for the young male to rent or buy from their local video store. I like the designs but I acknowledge their primary purpose. And, while Mia may be in the foreground, the presence of a male member - Roll Kran (those names!) - rams home even further who the intended audience is. He represents the viewer who can visualise himself surrounded by beckoning lips and thighs. We haven't yet got to the full-on harem antics of Tenchi Muyo! but it's worth noting that producer Toru Miura was behind both projects. By the way, Roll gets to be the pilot of Dangaioh, to the chagrin of his more capable female comrades. The average guy gets the girls and the best job.

The dilemmas the characters face could have made for gripping drama had Hirano had more time at his disposal or had he been inclined to head in that direction. Just as the always-in-two-minds peace loving Mia recalls her childhood life in Tokyo, she learns that Gil Berg has set out to destroy the city, both to torment her and force the Dangaioh team to confront him there; in your face, aggressive Pai will learn that she is the daughter of Galimos - born, bred and brought up as a killer; and cry baby Lamba will learn that she is a princess whose father cravenly and unwisely surrendered his planet to the merciless Bunker pirates. Roll Kran, whose design is utterly nondescript, has the most dire personal history, which upon remembering, leaves him appropriately zombie-like with shock. These urgent problems are treated perfunctorily, their main purpose to push the narrative from one action scene to the next. After the first episode's set up (there are three OAV episodes, with the shorter second OAV reduced in length even further by a ten minute recap of the first) the arcs can be comprehensively summed up as: good character remembers past; goes back home; meets bad characters; violence happens. Referring specifically to World War II, Philip Brophy argues that Dangaioh is a rumination on war: how people and nations get drawn into it and how they deal with its memory. "In the face of the ongoing global will to never forget the past, Dangaio radically proposes to remember to forget." I think that's spurious. The anime isn't aiming that high, nor is there some sort of Jungian memory or war trauma infecting the OAV that we in the West so readily attribute to the Japanese. He's giving Dangaioh far more credit than it deserves. Even aiming low the narrative structure has issues. While the action scenes are competent, lengthy exposition can spoil their impact. Worse, connecting narrative is sometimes elided resulting in the occasional confusion on my first viewing. A second viewing generally cleared up any misunderstandings I had. Worst of all, the final episode ends on a cliffhanger without any resolution of the central conflict. But, then again, that's not the OAV is really about.

With Dangaioh being so thin narratively and thematically, I'm back to considering the elements in isolation. In an anime that revels in excess but doesn't always succeed, the Bunker fleet amuses with its psychedelic, pulsing colours and the flagship's outrageous blending of dragon features, Buddhist shrine art and the Mandelbrot set. The giant robots, however, don't work for me. But then, they rarely do, so you can factor that into your own judgement. Dangaioh itself is a musclebound Marvel superhero with a few bits of tin tacked on. The muscles far outsize the braincase in both size and importance. From some angles the appearance is downright bizarre - the image on the ANN encyclopaedia page looks like a set of sunglasses with a pair of legs dangling below. The music is typical late 1980s fare, at times trying in vain to emulate the glorious cheesiness of Project A-ko. The opener is a homage to Go Nagai's giant robot intros, except that his baritone singers have been replaced by a female and male duet. The start of the ending song has an uncanny resemblance to Radiohead's "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" from The Bends. For once in this survey the anime version came first - by some 7½ years. Great riff.


Clockwise from top left: the Bunker fleet is one instance where the extravagant design works;
Galimos is more djinn than human; AIC demolishes their own studio (Artmic weren't involved in this episode); and
Gil Berg's cyborg hand grasps Mia's neck - the intersection of violence and sexual vulnerability is alarming.


Rating: Not really good.
+ artwork generally; action scenes are dynamic; general tongue-in-cheek tone
- Marketing aspirations outweigh thematic and narrative significance, ie there's a total lack of substance; prominence of the female characters belies their sexist depiction; confusing jumps in the plot; inconclusive ending

Resources:
ANN
100 Anime, Philip Brophy, British Film Institute Publishing
The Anime Encyclopaedia, Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press via Kindle
The font of all knowledge
500 Essential Anime Movies: the Ultimate Guide, Helen McCarthy, Collins Design

The final word:

Clements and McCarthy wrote:
The 1980s anime industry, still taking tottering steps into the world of straight-to-video science fiction, had a lot of trouble working out what to give its audience. Boys who had grown up watching kiddie shows that featured giant transforming robots were now grown-up 20-somethings with VCRs, and this was one of the many experiments aimed at bringing them back. But the amnesia subplot is a lame excuse for long exposition scenes and huge holes in the plot, and it contains many of the flaws of children’s shows without exploiting their appeal. The end result is a show that imitates the big-robot fights (originally designed to sell toys) and halfheartedly includes a psychic-weapon subplot influenced by AKIRA. Ultimately too childish for an adult audience and too complex for kids, Dangaioh is an also-ran in Japanese sci-fi.


The final image:


Professor Tarsan.


Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:08 am; edited 5 times in total
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Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3908
PostPosted: Sat Feb 29, 2020 9:19 pm Reply with quote
Ah, Dangaio, the third anime that I watched and whose existence I actually became aware of thanks to my second anime, Macross: Flashback 2012 as the trailer for it appeared at the end of the tape that had Macross: 2012 on it.

My biggest disappointment with Dangaio was that the OVAs never got finished. There was a sequel TV series that apparently does feature Mia, but doesn't reveal the fate of the other three characters.

On another, but funny note, is that the original US subtitled release of the first Dangaio OVA contained a pretty significant subtitling error on its initial run. Dangaio's signature attack, Psychic Wave, is subtitled as Side-kick Wave. That error was fixed on subsequent runs.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 29, 2020 11:55 pm Reply with quote
Thanks for that. I totally forgot to mention the lack of a resolution. I've updated the review. I'll cover the TV series in due course.

According to Fred Patton, Dangaioh was the first anime released in the US that was specifically marketed to anime fans - by US Renditions in 1990. He says there were earlier releases, eg Warriors of the Wind, but they aimed for a general audience.

The version I watched used Psychic Wave for the attack.
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Beltane70



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2020 11:25 am Reply with quote
If not for owning the original US Renditions run of Dangaio, I probably would have never known that the error existed. Imagine my surprise when I saw the mistake despite the fact that you can clearly hear Roll say, Psychic Wave.

There is a spin-off manga for Dangaio called Dangaio Legend Doll which features Mia Lamba. I have the first volume of three, but since I don't read Japanese, I am unsure of when it takes place within the Dangaio timeline.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2020 3:27 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl Squad #85: the defiant crew members of the Lorilei


Left to right: Spea, Shildy, Catty, Amy

and Lufy,

Gall Force 2 - Destruction

The story so far: A direct sequel, Destruction is set some ten years after the events of Gall Force - Eternal Story (review here). The earlier film - other than a flash forward thousands of years to modern day Japan - ends with the sole survivor of the space cruiser Star Leaf - Rumy - marooned on Terra in the "9th System" along with the only successful hybrid male secretly created by co-operating factions of the endlessly warring all-female Solnoids and the slime-bodied Paranoids. (Their hope is that the hybrid species will survive the demise of its parent civilisations and eventually colonise the galaxy more harmoniously.)

Synopsis: The galactic war between the Solnoids and Paranoids has reached new diabolical levels. Both sides have developed "system destroyers" capable of obliterating stars and planets. In a sequence of tactical feints and surprise attacks, the home worlds of both civilisations have been vaporised, effectively leaving them with only their battle fleets. When the Paranoids decide to regroup in the "9th System" the Solnoids follow them intent on springing a trap. Upon arrival the Solnoid space cruiser Lorilei encounters debris from the final battle of the Star Leaf, including Lufy's deep-frozen body entombed within her mecha. Realising that she didn't sustain any mortal injuries and with her skills as a fighter pilot desperately needed, the crew decide to revive her. What Lufy learns from the four women she befriends - led by the resolute Shildy and including an exact copy of Catty from the Star Leaf - will leave her questioning her loyalty to the Solnoids. Worse, the trap being set for the Paranoids will not only sacrifice much of the Solnoid fleet as decoys, including the Lorilei, but also obliterate the sun and the inner planets of the solar system. The future of the human species is at stake.

Production details:
Release date: 21 November 1987
Director: Kitsuhito Akiyama (Thundercats, Bubblegum Crisis, Spirit Warrior, Sol Bianca, Bastard!!, Ai no Kusabi, Elementalors, El Hazard: the Wanderers, Magical Project S, Battle Athletes, Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure, Armitage: Dual Matrix, Monkey Turn, Guyver: the Bioboosted Armour (TV), Pumpkin Scissors, Inazuma Eleven, Beyblade Burst)
Studios: Artmic, AIC
Script: Hideki Kakinuma
Music: Ichizo Seo
Character design: Kenichi Sonoda (Bubblegum Crisis franchise, Wanna-Be's; Idol Fighter Su-Chi-Pai; Otaku no Video; creator of Riding Bean and Gunsmith Cats)
Art director: Junichi Higashi
Animation director: Morifumi Naka & Nobuyuki Kitajima
Co-Director: Hiroki Hayashi (Explorer Woman Ray, Sol Bianca, Tenchi Muyo! first OAV and Mihoshi special, creator of El Hazard and director of the first season, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, Magical Play, BPS - Battle Programmer Shirase, Burn-Up Scramble, Khronos Gear, Nekopara)

Note: For a long time I had trouble tracking down either a second hand copy of the OAV or a working torrent of a fansub so eventually resigned myself to buying it from Japan. The images are from that DVD, but I eventually downloaded a fansub. Good thing, that, as there's a crucial expository section that would I wouldn't have understood otherwise.


The ensemble up close (clockwise from top left): Lufy, Shildy, Spea / Amy, and Catty.

Comments: The Gall Force saga continues in this fifty minute OAV follow up to the original movie. For the most part we get a new ensemble of characters, although Lufy gives the viewer a direct emotional connection between the two stories while Catty Mk II provides a link to the underlying narrative propelling events on screen. The latter is but one of many identical androids dispersed throughout the Solnoid armed forces who have been tasked with ensuring the success of the Species Unification Plan. In an anime space opera version of the Book of Genesis, a hybrid Paranoid / Solnoid Adam together with a Solnoid Eve have been left on pristine planet Earth to be fruitful and multiply. What was an awesome reveal at the end of the original film, this awareness, rather than any attachment to the characters, is now central to the viewer's commitment to the saga. The viewers' knowledge of the processes of the plan may well be inferior to Catty's but, if they are fully engaged by the story - and I was - then they will have a godlike awareness of its implications for the future. The clever way the viewer is brought into the narrative becomes a defining element of Gall Force.

The shorter run time compared with the movie works to the OAV's benefit. The story is short, simple and to the point. Verbal exposition is kept to a minimum - there is a concise scene in the middle where Shildy and Catty bring Lufy up to date and reveal her role in the plan - allowing the action sequences to both entertain and progress the narrative. This also means that Director Kitsuhito Akiyama and writer Hideki Kakinuma drop the viewer in the middle of events, so you should definitely watch Eternal Story first. One improvement, however, is that, Amy excepted, Destruction relies less on the characters' cute or comic depiction than it had previously. The saga has now embraced its dramatic core rather than rely heavily upon its decorative surface. Gall Force still has its "cute babes with laser guns" fanservice but they no longer seem as gratuitous. The occasional nudity is attractively presented without descending into prurience - largely because, for the Solnoids, there is no sex and, hence, no taboos. Their behaviour is both casual and natural. As with its predecessor, the OAV still doesn't provide any clues on how the Solnoids reproduce or, given they have only one sex, how they have fully formed primary and secondary sexual features. The third instalment - Stardust War - will finally provide some answers, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

As with the film, Destruction is an ensemble piece. For sure, Rabby was the point of view character in Eternal Story, but she wasn't the point of the story. (That was Rumy.) Similarly, the OAV is, for the most part, seen through the eyes of Lufy, even if she's technically dead for the first 20 per cent of its runtime. And, again like the original, characterisation is kept simple - helped very much by reducing the size of the ensemble from eight to five. Lufy's in-your-face aggression is tempered by the strangeness of her new surroundings and the discord between her hitherto unquestioned loyalty to the Solnoid cause and what she learns from Shildy and Catty. She is now slightly more complex and hence slightly more interesting. Natural leader of the troupe, Shildy is a serious action girl - determined, conscientious and reliable, and therefore somewhat dull even accounting for her irascibility. In typical Gall Force fashion, her hair style - the classic hime-cut of black hair, broad even fringe, bangs in front of the ears and long at the back - quickly identifies her type. We are going to see a lot more of this signalling as the survey progresses. Brown-haired Spea hardly makes an impression while meganekko Amy - the designated mascot girl - does little other than undermine the prevailing serious tone. Catty is the revelation in more ways than one. Aside from explaining the role of the Species Unification Plan, her importance in the overall scheme of things is now more apparent. On top of that, Akiyama and his animators have reduced her previous moe posturing thereby leaving her with a sincere and thoughtful persona. She comes across as the most human of all the characters, which is odd given that she's an android. She's the real star of the first three instalments of the franchise but I'm getting ahead of myself again.


Top row: the Paranoid and Solnoid supreme leaders Born and Journey - the former is more cautious; the latter more bombastic.
Bottom left: the bridge command of the Lorilei after removing their vision obscuring helmets (see the Eternal Story review).
Bottom right: the overpopulation of earth begins here.


Despite the change of format to OAV, Destruction measures up well against the cinema released Eternal Story in its artwork, animation and palette. Now that I've long since got over any 21st century prejudices I had about 1980s styles, I found the Kenichi Sonoda character designs to be effective in conveying character while attractive to the eye. The Paranoids are a good example of this effectiveness. They are so alien that I found myself instinctively rooting for the Solnoids, even though the commanders of the latter are considerably more aggressive. That said, the Paranoids have just enough of a comic edge to be appealing (in a monstrous sort of way). The mindful decision-making of Born, their supreme commander, is in sharp contrast to his counterpart in the Solnoids, the bombastic Journey. (Hmmm. Born and Journey? "This is so metaphorical".) The synthesiser soundtrack is up to the task without being memorable until the gorgeous, melodic and soulful closing track, Cosmic Child, that's quite unlike anything I've encountered in the survey so far. Despite its unexpectedness and its initial incongruity the melody and hippie lyrics add an extra layer to what is otherwise an action girl anime with an interesting undercurrent. As Shirai Takako sings, "Like a ship floating gently, that catches the first breeze and sails far off into the sky," and the earth peeks out from behind the moon, I get a lump in the throat even after multiple viewings. I'd have preferred if the OAV had been called Cosmic Child, rather than Destruction. That would better convey the hopeful tone of the saga at this stage of its telling. Either way, the song is a great way to end the instalment and a vast improvement over the insert songs of the film.

Rating: good. The Gall Force franchise begs comparison with Bubblegum Crisis. Coming from the same studios and with shared staff, both were pioneers of the all female ensemble in a sci-fi setting aimed at a male audience. I prefer Gall Force because, while Bubblegum Crisis may have an edgier tone, the underlying story and themes never manage to cohere, leaving it little more than the sum of its stylistic elements.

+ character designs and artwork generally; simple, gripping plot presented tautly; interesting underlying story about the origins of the human species; Catty; closing song
- simple characterisations; some plot points still awaiting explication; Amy is annoying

Resources:
Gall Force 2 - Destruction, Sony Music Entertainment Japan
ANN
The font of all knowledge
GEARS - Gall Force 2 - Destruction
The Anime Encyclopaedia, Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press via Kindle
100 Anime, Philip Brophy, British Film Institute Publishing
TV Tropes, Hime Cut

Final image and comment:



This image of three unnamed characters, my favourite moment of the OAV, exemplifies what anime does so well and so powerfully. It shows two mecha pilots returning from battle. One of them, seriously wounded, is being supported by her comrade in arms on one side and one of the ship's maintenance crew on the other. The kicker is that the two on the left of the image - the soldiers - are both cyborgs. The Solnoids have been so decimated in battle that 80 per cent of their soldiers are entirely artificial, other than their nervous systems. The humane treatment of the cyborg by another cyborg as well a fully human character, along with the victim's obvious distress, upends our expectations of where our sympathies ought to lie. Only anime can get me empathising with a cyborg and questioning what it is to be human in a sequence lasting only seconds.


Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:09 am; edited 5 times in total
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Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3908
PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2020 9:38 am Reply with quote
I believe that the subs that you had to use for the reviews are mistaken in calling the "artificial" soldiers robots. Both the English and Japanese dubs mention them as being cyborgs as even though their bodies are artificial, their nervous systems are actually biological. I think that better explains why the other pilot and the clearly human woman were showing concern for the wounded pilot.

I almost thought that you skipped mentioning an important plot point until I realized that the point I was thinking isn't revealed until Gall Force 3.

The one thing that I lament about part 2 is that the OST for it was never released. The only part of the soundtrack that was available is the closing song, Cosmic Child since it came from and is the title of an album by Takako Shirai & Crazy Boys.

One of the funniest things about the character Amy is the fact that I went to high school with a girl that looked exactly like her, that ironically was named Amy!
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