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Errinundra
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Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 6547
Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:16 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girls index
****

Beautiful Fighting Girl #99: Noriko Takaya,



Gunbuster

(Gunbuster - the English language name of the OAV - is taken from the name of the giant robot that Noriko and Kazumi pilot and is a play on the term "Ganbatte", which could be translated as "Go for it!" or "Do Your Best!". The Japanese title for the OAV was Toppu o Nerae! or Aim for the Top!, an allusion to the sports anime Ace o Nerae!, ie Aim for the Ace!. The first episode of Gunbuster nicks wholesale the premise of the famous tennis franchise, with mecha replacing tennis racquets and balls.)

Synopsis: Noriko Takaya attends a high school in Okinawa specialising in training mecha pilots for earth's Space Force. She hopes to follow in the footsteps of her admiral father who was killed in a battle against mysterious, hostile aliens spreading across the Milky Way. The school's coach - one time crew member with Noriko's father and the last person to see him alive - divines in her a latent ability undetectable to anyone else, least of all Noriko herself. He selects her, along with the school's Onee-sama, Kazumi Amano, to pilot a new, experimental mecha - Gunbuster - in a war against the aliens. Noriko must overcome her self-doubts and face the terror of battle with all its awful consequences. Not only that, when you're zipping across the galaxy at light speed and triggering black hole bombs, the inescapable time dilation effects mean she and Kazumi will return to an earth quite unlike the one she left.

Production details:
Release dates: 7 October 1988 - 7 July 1989
Director: Hideaki Anno (animation director for the Daicon films and Royal Space Force - The Wings of Honnêamise, after Gunbuster went on to direct Nadia - the Secret of Blue Water, the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise, the good bits of His and Her Circumstances, Here Comes Koume!, Anime Tencho, The Invention of Imaginary Machines of Destruction, Cutie Honey live action film, Re: Cutie Honey and Gunbuster 2: Diebuster); the accompanying Science Lesson shorts were directed by Kazuya Tsurumaki
Studio: Gainax
Creator: Toshio Okada
Screenplay: Toshio Okada and Hiroyuki Yamaga; the Science Lesson shorts were written by Kazuya Tsurumaki and Hideaki Anno
Storyboards: Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi and Kazuya Tsurumaki (Science Lessons)
Music: Kōhei Tanaka
Character design: Haruhiko Mikimoto and Toshiyuki Kubooka
Art Director: Hiroshi Sasaki and Masanori Kikuchi
Chief animation director: Toshiyuki Kubooka
Animation directors: Toshiyuki Kubooka (eps 1 and 4), Yuji Moriyama (eps 2-3) & Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (eps 5-6)
Mecha design: Kazutaka Miyatake, Koichi Ohata & Mahiro Maeda (who went on to become a director of note himself)


Supporting characters. Top left: "Onee-sama" Kazumi Amano.
Top right: feisty rival Jung Freud (!). She's standing on a railway platform inside a space battleship. It's that big.
Middle left: coach and phonically appropriately named Koichi (ie Coachie) Ohta who drives Noriko and Kazumi (also shown) to perform.
Middle right: Jung Freud telling ghost stories while their battleship warps. Legend has it that spirits dwell in hyperspace.
Bottom left: Noriko's best friend Kimiko Akai ages and starts a family while Noriko remains forever a teenager in space.
Bottom right: bearded, severe-looking space battleship admirals are an old anime trope. This one is Tatsumi Tashiro.


Comments: In the wake of the relative success of their Daicon convention opening night animations, the band of otaku behind them formed their own studio - Gainax - and somehow managed to secure significant funding for a feature film that would become Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise. Despite garnering critical approval the film didn't shine at the box office, probably because its earnest, straightforward and outward-looking tone didn't meet the expectations of its likely audience. House producer and self-proclaimed "Otaking" Toshio Okada identified that, despite its deservedly infamous rape scene, the film lacked two necessary ingredients: sex and violence. Clearly what was needed were beautiful fighting girls and giant robots. The studio's first release using this formula was their even more lacklustre adaptation of Masamune Shirow's Appleseed manga. Their next attempt, Gunbuster, would be more successful.

With Hideaki Anno at the helm in his first credited directors role, Gunbuster has a verve and a bounce largely missing from its immediate predecessor. He brings an intelligence, an eye for detail and framing, a sense of constant activity and an ability to get the emotional tone of a scene pretty much right that reminds me of Osamu Dezaki, which suggests that Anno was using him as a template for more than just the Japanese title and the plot of the first episode. (Dezaki directed Aim for the Ace!) And full credit to Anno: he's juggling some quite disparate elements that might have been jarring in less capable hands. From its sophisticated, if fantastical, application of Einstein's theory of relativity to its recurring fanservice, from its moe characterisation of the female fighters to its scenes of high drama, and from the comedy, with its frequent parodies to moments of intense action, Anno and his team manage to create something that works as a complete package and remains compelling throughout.

Tamaki Saito sees Gunbuster as a terminal point in the development of the the beautiful fighting girl. He argues that "the genealogy of beautiful fighting girl anime is almost complete... no entirely new one (ie, subgenre - Errinundra) has emerged since Gunbuster." He associates her - the beautiful fighting girl - closely with the obsessions and the unexpected creativity of the otaku community. How appropriate then that it should be a product of the anime studio that saw itself as born from that community. This survey, however, is taking a broader view of the subject. While I acknowledge the importance of the otaku fan in the development of the female protagonist in anime, I believe she grew from a more diverse fan base and will subsequently branch out into a myriad of new forms. In fairness to Saito, Beautiful Fighting Girl was originally published in 2000 - at a time when Anno's and Gainax's Neon Genesis Evangelion was the be-all and end-all of anime. Key anime appeared in the intervening twelve years (1988-2000), whose significance may not have been apparent until afterwards, for example Kite. He is, nonetheless, inclined to dismiss anime outside his narrow field of view of a psychologist investigating the sexuality of otaku. I prefer to see Gunbuster as not so much a terminal point, but the first time an anime successfully presents its female protagonist as both object and subject. To make my point I want to look more closely at Noriko Takaya - at how she is presented and at what she does.


Noriko piloting a mecha. I suppose the justification for the skimpy uniform - which she wears at all times while on duty - is freedom of movement.

Early in the first episode we see Noriko training to pilot mecha at her high school in Okinawa. She's incompetent, clumsy, without self-confidence, in awe of Kazumi and, dare I say it, cute in what can now be seen as a moe archetype. Two much later characters who channel Noriko are Fubuki from KanColle and Yoshika Miyafuji from Strike Witches, but here the type appears before us for the very first time. It's important to note that these qualities lend the protagonist an endearing frailty that is an essential part of her moe nature. Viewers can patronise her, be gratified by their omnipotent position. The viewer is subject; the anime character is object.

The lovingly crafted fanservice reinforces that relationship. Hideaki Anno needs no excuse to undress the female characters as frequently as the exigencies of the narrative allow. Indeed, it is to Gunbuster that we turn for the origin of the expression Gainax Bounce. And yet, while the amount of fanservice is gratuitous, the depiction itself isn't offensive, if you don't object in principle to female nudity. There are reasons for this. Most importantly, the nudity is depicted naturally. Males are absent from the scenes, so there's none of the shame or the puerile humour that Go Nagai bequeathed to anime. The treatment is affectionate: we don't get the malicious parodies of female breasts that can be found elsewhere in anime. Yes, the breasts are fulsome and the team of animators famously have them bouncing about, but the movements aren't exaggerated. As Helen McCarthy puts it, Noriko "is animated to bounce and jiggle like any normal, well-rounded teenage girl". There's a scene where Noriko, drained physically and emotionally, flops on her bed in only a loose fitting singlet and knickers. Alone and unconcerned about her appearance, her nipples can be seen through the armhole and front of her singlet, her breasts distorted by the angle at which she lies. The image suggests intimacy - not so much of a sexual nature - but the intimacy of living closely with another human body in all its uncompromising reality. So, while the viewer is once more in a privileged position, Noriko comes across as more real than you might expect from the OAV's reputation. That said, Anno can slip up. One scene where Noriko shreds her uniform as she pulls the power source from the heart of Gunbuster is done so awkwardly that it fatally undermines the prevailing tone.

Two crucial scenes (without fanservice, mind you) more than make up for that slip. In the first Noriko finds the derelict spaceship where her father died. The shattered, empty bridge is open to the vacuum of space, mirroring the empty despair in her heart as she is confronted by the awful contrast between her presence and his absence. Even more wrenching is Noriko's first experience of battle. She's so paralysed with confusion and terror that she can do nothing to prevent the death of the boy she's sweet on. The likely violence of his sudden death isn't depicted on screen, which remains focused on Noriko. One moment his reassuring voice can be heard in her ear piece; the next there is silence. Here Gunbuster isn't wallowing in the aesthetics of violence, but getting us inside Noriko's head.


Top left: Gunbuster. If you look closely you can see Noriko in the bottom right corner.
Top right: the aftermath of a black hole bomb detonating in the outer reaches of the solar system, as seen from earth.
Middle: a scientist briefs space force personnel on the aliens. I kept thinking of him as Hideaki Anno.
Bottom: Gunbuster references many otaku favourites. These are a couple of non-anime homages: Thunderbirds and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
(The scene on the right is set in 2015, so the space station has fourteen years of additional construction.)


In the space of a little under six months, anime gave us three OAVs that share a similar scenario - each with their own degree of absurdity - of a hyperactive girl coming to grips with hi-tech weapons systems in a sci-fi world: Patlabor, Dominion Tank Police and Gunbuster. Gainax's version is the pick of the bunch, with the best story, the best visuals and the best protagonist (though Patlabor has the better ensemble). Gunbuster's hyperbole only overreaches occasionally thanks to the compelling narrative and the likeable characters. And I would add that you don't need to be across the many parodies to appreciate Gunbuster. Among the great moments of silliness are the bonus science lessons attached to each episode. They may be ridiculous, and funny, but they also provide useful scientific background, so that the episode in question isn't bogged down by exposition. Even more absurd is the opening to episode 3 that quotes Noriko's high school essay on quantum mechanics, relativity and faster than light travel. It reads as terrifically scientific, but it's actually gibberish. What the anime does do seriously and yet supremely well is how it depicts time dilation resulting from high gravitational forces or from light speed travel. Noriko's interception of her father's battleship may have only taken her thirty minutes at very high speed, but, upon her return, six months have passed. The anime is less concerned with the curiosity inherent in the effect than the emotional disorientation of those experiencing it. The music also serves the anime well, being a combination of 1980s driving rhythms that are clearly paying homage to the original Project A-ko and orchestral pieces deliberately mimicking, in the spirit of everything else in the production, items from the classical repertoire. Listen out for Holst's "Mars, the Bringer of War" from his suite, The Planets, among others.

The sixth and last episode is filmed in grey tones, bar the last 2½ minutes. The sombre monochrome reflects the dire circumstances of the human race, leading to the necessity of exploding a gigantic black hole bomb in the centre of the Milky Way. When the bomb fails to detonate Noriko and Kazumi must take Gunbuster to the edge of the bomb to set it off. Even though they will return home before their oxygen runs out, on earth 12,000 years will have gone by. In a story that has emphasised relationships between characters and the personal over the broad view, the implications of their courage asks some poignant questions. What is home? Who have they been fighting for? The answers are provided as full colour returns in an ecstatic ending quite unexpected from Gainax and Hideaki Anno.

Rating: the first anime in the survey to gain an excellent score. It has instantly become my favourite Gainax and Hideaki Anno work.
+ artwork, animation, direction, parodies, for the most part Noriko, depiction of time dilation and its emotional impact, fanservice is done well if you don't mind that sort of thing; ending
- can go too far over the top, moe aspects of Noriko don't quite convince, occasionally the disparate tones work against each other, secondary characters are one dimensional, fanservice will intrude significantly if you do mind that sort of thing

Resources:
ANN - check out Theron Martin's review and part 2 of "The Indestructible Gainax" series of articles.
The font of all knowledge
Beautiful Fighting Girl, Tamaki Saito, trans J Keith Vincent and Dawn Lawson, University of Minnesota Press
500 Essential Anime Movies: the Ultimate Guide, Helen McCarthy, Collins Design
TV Tropes, Gainaxing
AltJapan blog, Speaker for the Dead on Toshio Okada's book, You Otaku are Already Dead



The Final Word

Tamaki Saito wrote:
...Gunbuster was produced by Gainax in the wake of the box office failure of Wings of Honneamise. In its stoic pursuit of cinematic reality, Wings of Honneamise had excluded both the giant robot and the beautiful girl heroine that is the glory of anime. The despair and defiance that resulted from their understanding of how they had failed led the Gainax team to create a work that quickened and concentrated the anime context to an extreme degree. In so doing they demonstrated the true backbone of otaku creativity. In other words, it was a case of otaku nihilism being converted into creative fervour.

At the planning stage, the focus may have been on the three subjects: a beautiful fighting girl, a giant robot, and a space monster. It may have been a matter of "Then all we have to do is cram it full of the kind of parody and detail that appeal to otaku, and it will sell fairly well." But didn't the development that occurred from that point on surpass the intentions of the planning stage? This is where we get a glimpse of the moment when the beautiful fighting girl icon went beyond being a simple object of desire to become, as it were, a muse that catalyses creativity.


- Beautiful Fighting Girl, p 117.


Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:38 am; edited 6 times in total
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Alan45
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Joined: 25 Aug 2010
Posts: 9914
Location: Virginia
PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:50 am Reply with quote
Quote:
its sophisticated, if fantastical, application of Einstein's theory of relativity


It is quite possible that Anno picked this up from Robert Heinlein's book Time for the Stars I remember reading that US science fiction in general and Heinlein in particular were popular in Anno's circle. At any rate, when I saw Gunbuster this aspect of the show seemed unexceptional.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_for_the_Stars
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Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3921
PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:00 am Reply with quote
Gunbuster is one of the few anime that actually provokes a strong emotional response. Despite seeing it multiple times, every subsequent viewing brings me closer and closer to tears and I'm sure that one of these viewings will have me bawling in my seat! The scenes dealing with the impact of time dilation on Noriko's life are the biggest culprtis.

An interesting note is that Noriko's crush, Smith Toren, is named after the real-life founder of Studio Proteus, Toren Smith. You might recognize the studio name as the one responsible for the English translation of the Appleseed manga.

My biggest and pretty much only disappointment with this OVA is the fact that the defensive battle to protect Buster Machine 3 (aka Black Hole Bomb) from the space monsters in the final episode is only shown as still pictures instead of being fully animated. That just maybe because I'm a sucker for epic space battles!

This is just me being picky, but the first black hole bomb was technically just a makeshift weapon using Noriko and Co's retired battleship's warp engine.

Despite this being a work of pure science-fiction, I'm still in awe that the core of Buster Machine 3 was the entire planet of Jupiter compressed to 1/30,000th of its size!
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Errinundra
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Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2020 1:35 am Reply with quote
@ Alan45, what I was specifically thinking of when I used the term fantastical was the compression of the planet Jupiter to make a black hole bomb, as mentioned by Beltane70.

And, hey, the anime is pilfering ideas from all sorts of places, so why not add Heinlein to the list.

Beautiful Fighting Girls #100: Riko & Rulishia,



Dragon Century

Synopsis: Dragon-riding school girls v demons with tentacles.

Episode 1: In anticipation of the imminent opening of a gate to the demon underworld dragons have been sent to earth (by whom is never explained) to protect humans. Unaware of the the dragons' true purpose defence forces across the world attack and massacre them. After one such action Riko, an anti-social school girl, finds herself bequeathed a baby red dragon by its dying mother. Naming him Carmine she forms a bond that might just save Hokkaido from the boss demon.

Episode 2: 297 years later, Carmine is now a mature dragon living a reclusive life atop a tower. He forms an unlikely bond with Rulishia, a young warrior who reminds him of Riko. She convinces him to join her in gladiatorial "Ryuto" contests against other similar pairings. It turns out that the human half of their most terrifying rivals - who had previously killed Rulishia's father and his dragon - is the re-animated boss demon from episode 1.

Production details:
Release dates: 26 October 1988 and 25 December 1988
Director: Kiyoshi Fukumoto (has had a long career mainly as either a unit director or episode director; he was animation director of the distinctive looking Dragon's Heaven released in February of 1988; and subsequently directed Dinozaurs and Geobreeders: Breakthrough)
Studio: AIC
Source material: the manga Dragon Breeder by Ryusen Sugita, aka Ryukihei - the ANN encyclopaedia describes it as pornographic
Series composition and screenplay: Noboru Aikawa, aka Shou Aikawa (resume includes Yotoden, Urotsukidōji: Legend of the Overfiend franchise, Dangaioh, Vampire Princess Miyu, Angel Cop, Genocyber, Martian Successor Nadesico, The Twelve Kingdoms, Fullmetal Alchemist, Corpse Princess, Un-Go, Eureka Seven AO, Concrete Revolutio and Garo: Crimson Moon among others)
Storyboard: Hiroyuki Kitazume, Hiroyuki Ochi & Kiyoshi Fukumoto
Music: Michiaki Katō
Character Design: Hiroyuki Kitazume (mostly known for his character designs including the Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend franchise, Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ and Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack, and as an animation director; his director credits are Relic Armour Legaciam, the Starlight Angel segment of Robot Carnival and Moldiver)
Art Director: Tetsuo Anzai & Tetsuto Shimono
Animation Director: Hiroyuki Kitazume & Hiroyuki Ochi


Top left: Riko - sporting an early example of zettai ryouiki - starts off wanting to tear down the city, but ends up saving it.
Top right: Rulishia with Booster the mini-dragon and Carmine (she calls him Vermilion).
Middle left: Sagara hunts the dragons before lending his support to Riko and Carmine.
Middle Right: Onchaji, one of Rulishia's ryuto rivals.
Bottom left: Rulishia sticks it to the demon king.
Bottom right: demon mayhem.


Comments: The late eighties popularity of supernatural horror anime is starting to bleed into the survey. Two strands are becoming apparent, both arguably traceable to 1984's Superdimension SF Legend Rall segment of the pornographic Cream Lemon where magical girl Caron fronts up to a proto-tentacled demon. One strand will concentrate heavily on the demonic aspects, mainly feature older, male protagonists and have a more sinister, less comic tone. Among them can be included Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend (1987), Wicked City (1987) and Demon City Shinjuku (1988, released just the day before the first episode of Dragon Century). I actually purchased and watched the Discotek release of Demon City Shinjuku with a view to including it the survey, but concluded that the principal role of the female lead, Sayaka Rama, was to provide motivation for the main character and thus she lacked sufficient autonomy to qualify. (You can read Theron Martin's recent review in its place.) Yotoden (1987) stands out by having just the sort of independent female protagonist lacking in Demon City Shinjuku. The other strand is more comic, more parodic and features female protagonists, frequently with parallels to their magical girl predecessors and contemporaries. It includes such titles as Dream Hunter Rem (1985), Fight! Iczer-One (1985), Dream Dimension Hunter Fandora (1985), Call Me Tonight (1986) and Vampire Princess Miyu (1988).

Dragon Century fits neatly into the second strand. Let me stress from the get go that, despite its manga source and a anime genealogy that goes back to Cream Lemon, it isn't the least bit pornographic. Sure, the second episode has plenty of fanservice, but Rulishia remains clothed throughout. The images at the top of the post are as much as you can expect. Mind you, the skewered woman in the image above blends gender and violence that some may find off-putting. Such an image shouldn't surprise when you consider that both the screenwriter (Noboru Aikawa) and the character designer (Hiroyuki Kitazume) were also working on the contemporaneous Urotsukidoji franchise. What might surprise is how infrequently the crustacean claws, the fanged orifices and the tentacles appear in the two episodes. There's a scene in episode one - where the image comes from - when the demons break out into the unnamed city, but it lasts lest than a minute. Other than that, two perfunctory battles between the protagonists and the big bad at the end of each episode is the extent of them. The OAV spends much more time on the relationship between the two girls and Carmine (or Vermilion, as Rulishia calls him). It's better for it.


First episode protagonist Riko's demeanour suggests unexpressed trauma.

The two episodes (labelled the God Chapter and the Demon Chapter respectively) are deliberate studies in contrast. The first - God Chapter - is almost entirely set at night, with a resulting muted palette and an atmosphere of imminent threat. The main support - Sergeant Sagara - is suitably menacing until he proves himself an ally at the climax. (I liked his subversive - for a soldier - long side bangs of hair.) Carmine is young and unsure of himself. Riko has dark red hair to Rulishia's vibrant blue, but more importantly, she is an anti-social outsider who wants to nuke her home town. (Be careful what you wish for.) Her sullen, unchildlike expression suggests repressed trauma and self-loathing. When the demon king presents a vision of herself (that is, Riko), silent tears fill her eyes. She may engender sympathy - the object of pity who will come good - but she isn't easily likeable. Had the creators explored her background, the episode would have had more depth and her character more impact, but I guess that wasn't a priority given the 25 minute time constraint.

The second episode - Demon Chapter - mostly transpires by day. The artwork is brighter, more colourful and more detailed. Set nearly 300 years into a post-apocalyptic future, the world is both inviting and fantastical. Matching the artwork, there is more activity, reflected in the higher quality of animation. It seems the creators had an improved budget for the episode. In contrast to Riko, Rulishia has blue hair and an extrovert personality. Oddly enough we do learn of a major trauma in her life: witnessing the violent death of her father in the ryuto cage at the hands of the creature who will turn out to be the big bad. Rulishia is a fun, comic character whose gymnastics give the episode a sense of constant activity and provides plenty of opportunity for fanservice. Carmine / Vermilion has also changed: he's older, wise and supremely self-confidant. The relationship between him and the two girls is fun: he's part knight in shiny armour, part forbearing father and part companion in arms. Overall, the episode has more of a fantasy adventure feel to it than supernatural horror. That is, until the last four minutes, when the demon is revealed and all hell breaks loose, along with the expected anime tropes.


Normally comic Rulishia in serious mode.

The predictability of it all is just one of the OAV's many shortcomings. Following in the wake of some terrific OAVs (ie, Dominion Tank Police, Patlabor and Gunbuster) the production limitations of Dragon Century are all too apparent. Not only that, nothing in either episode declares itself special or noteworthy in the way those other three do. Riko is dull, as is the episode she inhabits. Worse, even though the mood is supposed to be oppressive, I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion thanks to the gauche rendering of the episode's disparate elements. Rulishia and her episode are more entertaining, but her story could have been much better in more capable hands. Worst of all, the dragons are ridiculous. Their massive quadriceps and tails make a mockery of their flimsy wings. The latter couldn't possibly generate sufficient lift to raise all that bulk off the ground. To some extent the paradox is averted by Carmine occasionally struggling to become airborne. The dragons' improbable appearance is capped off by their goofy-looking heads, just one of several things that undermine any attempt at seriousness, let alone horror. (He has a great voice, though.) Silly looking dragons are fine in a comedy, but Dragon Century is more pretentious than that. The human faces are much more successful, especially the adult characters - always singular and full of character. Check out Sagara and Onchaji above. Finally, any sense of impending cataclysm is undermined by how quickly and easily the big bad is dispatched in each episode. What I did find alarming was how blasé both Carmine and Rulishia were about maiming and killing their opponents in the ryuto cages.

Rating: not really good.
+ Rulishia; the second episode version of Carmine; their relationship; facial designs of adult support characters
- unintentional humour; horror elements fall flat; production values of the first episode; dragon designs; perfunctory final battles

Resources:
ANN
The font of all knowledge
Forgotten Anime #36: “Dragon Century”, Fred Patten, Cartoon Research

(Since the latest update, Kindle for PC won't open. I guess I won't be using Clements & McCarthy as a resource until the problem is resolved. Sad )


Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:41 am; edited 7 times in total
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Alan45
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Joined: 25 Aug 2010
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Location: Virginia
PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2020 9:01 am Reply with quote
Ryukihei the author of the source material for this is all about dragons apparently. The two manga series of his that made it to the US are dragon stories. The artwork in the pictures you posted looks like the usual simplified version of the original. I guess you can blame him for the dragon faces. Neither series is pornographic but they do have fanservice.

Dragon Wars: The Tale of Lufiak Duell is shown as coming out in Japan in 1989. It was released here by Iron Cat publishing in comic book form in 1998 with a trade paperback in 1999.

Stainless Steel Armadillo: Magical Armored Dragon came out in Japan in 1993 and was released by Antarctic Press in comic book form here in1995.

Concerning last weeks post, I thought you were referring to the time dilatation effect which is the central theme of the Heinlein work I mentioned.

Going back a couple of weeks, your mention of gentle fanservice reminded me of something and I finally tracked it down. The manga version of Mobile Police Patlabor by Masami Yuki starts a bit earlier in the story. In the second chapter we see Noa undergoing a physical exam for admission to Patlabor. She is completely covered in a towel and breaks the fourth wall by looking at the reader sticking out her tongue and saying "I wont let you peek",
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Errinundra
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Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2020 2:44 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl Squad #101: Catty, Amy, Spea and Shildy,
(along with Lufy and Nebulart)



Gall Force 3 - Stardust War

The story so far: Secret factions within the endlessly warring all-female Solnoids and the polymorphous Paranoids have seeded a prehistoric earth with human hybrids of the two interstellar civilisations. Unaware of the significance of the location, opposing space battle fleets rushed to the solar system where the Solnoids had set up a trap to destroy their enemy. The plan entailed sacrificing much of their own fleet as well as destroying the Sun and its retinue of planets, including earth. One team within the Solnoid fleet - privy to the secret plan to create the new life form and having met one of the survivors of the project - manage to avert the battle.

Synopsis: With the earth saved, but with their home worlds destroyed, the Solnoids and Paranoids assemble what remains of their battle fleets, including their immensely powerful star destroyers, in a remote planetary system. As the two forces scramble to deploy the fleets in one last self-destructive battle, the heroines of the previous instalment of the franchise meet Nebulart, the weirdly familiar looking instigator of the original life-seeding project. Together they hatch a plan to convince the combatants to avoid further warfare. If that should fail, they formulate a back-up plan to assemble all the knowledge of their civilisation and send it via capsule to earth, where it may one day lead to a flowering of knowledge and culture.

Production details:
Release date: 02 November 1988 (32 years ago this last week)
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: AIC & Artmic
Script: Hideki Kakinuma
Music: Ichizo Seo
Original story: Hideki Kakinuma
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: Mitsuharu Miyamae
Chief animation director: Nobuyuki Kitajima
Animation director: Atsushi Takeuchi, Masahiro Tanaka, Masaki Kajishima and Morifumi Naka
Mechanical design: Kimitoshi Yamane
Art design: Rei Yumeno

Note: images are from the Japanese DVD release; I relied on a fansub for English subtitles.


Top: Nebulart and her clone Catty - one of many infiltrated throughout the Solnoid military.
Middle left: Lufy - survivor of the group used to seed the human race.
Middle right: Shildy - leader of the rebel group trying to avert wholesale annihilation.
Bottom left: Amy - as often happens in anime, the comic relief character too often spoils the prevailing tone.
Bottom right: Spea - largely surplus to requirements; the Latin root of her name means hope.


Comments: Stardust War repeats the basic narrative structure of the preceding Gall Force - Destruction episode of the franchise: the two, now homeless, fleets of the Solnoids and Paranoids meet for a final battle in a remote planetary system; there is a secret Solnoid installation on a planet within the system that could be the key to the outcome of the battle; our rebel heroines infiltrate the installation in an attempt to avert catastrophe; and upon their actions will depend the fate of a far distant human civilisation. The major difference between the two episodes is in their outcomes: Stardust War brings to an end the current cycle of unending warfare and paves the way for the next arc of the franchise. Revealing the outcome isn't that big of a spoiler. The very premise of Gall Force contains within it the inevitable destruction of civilisations and the planned birth of their replacements.

The underlying narrative structure leads to two related problems: for most of the instalment the viewer will be experiencing a sense of deja vu, whereas the inevitable tragic ending, even if it differs from the first, deprives the episode of any surprise. These issues are compounded by a large amount of verbal exposition from Nebulart and the talking super computer on the planet Embryo. This includes long awaited reveals on the identity and role of Nebulart herself, on the technicalities of Solnoid reproduction, their original creation by a preceding civilisation with two sexes and who gave birth naturally, and hints of their possible genetic link to the Paranoids. The franchise must rely on the viewer being sufficiently invested so that these reveals will make up for the lack of narrative compulsion. On top of all that, the Gall Force heroines are, for the most part, witnesses to events beyond their control and simply going along with Nebulart's plans. Lufy doesn't flaunt her combat skills, Shildy's leadership isn't tested, Catty defers to the original version of herself, and Spea and Amy are little more than background decorations. Indeed, Amy's moments of silliness are jarring rather than cute, though Catty does manage a moment of awesome when she gets the team past a security checkpoint. The OAV tries to counter the lengthy exposition with increasingly frequent cuts between these scenes with our familiar heroines and the far more fraught scenes of Born and Journey, the commanders of the Paranoid and Solnoid fleets respectively, in their frenzied scramble to stave off destruction and gain advantage.

Repetition and the cyclical nature of history are central themes. Civilisations rise, however their insatiable penchant for violence will lead to their inevitable failure, thereby sowing the seeds for their replacements. It's worth remembering that the OAV was released in 1988 as the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States seemed to be coming to an end in the wake of multiple arms reduction agreements. Mikhail Gorbachev had introduced reforms to the USSR that would lead to its dissolution and, hard to believe now, pundits were forecasting that the Japanese economy would overtake the US's. In reality the Japanese bubble would burst shortly afterwards, to be followed by the "lost decade". For very obvious reasons, cycles of cataclysm and rebirth had long been an anime pre-occupation, going back to Osamu Tezuka. In the late 80s there was a palpable sense of history happening before our eyes. On one level you could, if you so wish, see the franchise as a metaphor for the times.

The franchise's use of repeated elements goes beyond simply having episode three follow the trajectory of episode two. There's the multiple versions of Catty and the cloning of the Solnoids more generally. The Paranoids are essentially amoebas, so they presumably reproduce asexually. The two warring civilisations, we learn, were artificially created for precisely the same reason humans had been created. And, getting ahead of myself somewhat, upcoming instalments in the franchise will feature the same conflicts along with new versions of the old characters from this arc. The combatants of Stardust War will end up parroting each other - making identical tactical decisions that leaves each chasing the other's tale. Both are reduced to fighting with drones and cyborgs. The Solnoid flagship has the countenance of a Paranoid and in a clumsy metaphor, the two asexual enemies will meet when the phallic Solnoid flagship penetrates the central orifice of its Paranoid counterpart at the battle's climax.


Top: Solnoids - in their development vats and as cloven-hoofed warriors running to battle stations.
Middle: Paranoid flagship and Solnoid system destroyers.
Bottom: Born and Journey, the respective commanders of the Paranoids and the Solnoids.


Since the release of Gall Force 2: Destruction, the grand survey has covered such anime as Akira, Patlabor, Vampire Princess Miyu and Gunbuster. The comic fighting girl in space will be still be around for years to come (and Gunbuster has just such a protagonist), but the creative edge of anime is heading in new directions. The Gall Force franchise is becoming stale, not helped by the typically pedestrian animation of Artmic and AIC. But here's a thing: although I watched Eternal story some four years ago, when I finally got a hold of Destruction and Stardust War earlier this year I promptly watched the rest of the franchise up to its New Era conclusion. (There's also a 1996 remake and a 1988 omake.) I had become invested in the franchise, not so much in the characters, but in the in-universe history it created - a history that had the breadth to include our own earth as a terminal point. I'm reminded of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series: it isn't all that well written but I sure loved the mechanics of his world building. So, yeah, this exposition heavy instalment had enough going for it to satiate my appetite.

And one final thing. Although the music is satisfactory for a late 80s anime, Stardust War sorely misses the inspired "Cosmic Child" from Destruction.

Rating: decent
+ revelations about the nature of the Solnoids and Paranoids; finally meeting Nebulart; how human history fits into the narrative; cutting between the exposition and battle scenes
- the main characters don't do much; Amy; low budget production; franchise getting stale

Resources:
Gall Force 3 - Stardust War, Sony Music Entertainment Japan
ANN
The font of all knowledge
GEARS - Gall Force 3 - Stardust War
500 Essential Anime Movies: the Ultimate Guide, Helen McCarthy, Collins Design


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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 6:34 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl #102: Irene "Rally" Vincent,



Riding Bean

Synopsis: Rally and Bean Bandit run a courier business in the all-wheel steering, bullet-proof, custom made car, the Roadbuster, aka "Buff". They don't mind who hires them as long as the job pays well, so they help out in all sorts of illegal activities. When a criminal gang - led by the sadistic Semmerling - frames them to appear as the perpetrators of a kidnapping and ransom, they must use all their cunning and driving skills to get even with the villains, return the child victim to her father and, of course, purloin the loot.

Production details:
Release date: 22 February 1989
Director: Yasuo Hasegawa (since 1990 has worked primarily as a producer; his other directing credits include Thunderbirds 2086, Ai no Kiseki - Doctor Norman Monogatari, The Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, Cosmos Pink Shock and Wanna-Be's)
Creator / story / storyboards / character design / mechanical design: Kenichi Sonoda (Bubblegum Crisis franchise; Gall Force franchise; Wanna-Be's; Idol Fighter Su-Chi-Pai; Scramble Wars; Otaku no Video and Gunsmith Cats)
Studios: AIC and Artmic
Additional storyboards:Yasunori Ide and Yasuo Hasegawa
Music: David Garfield
Art director: Hiroaki Sato
Animation director: Atsushi Okuda, Masahiro Tanaka, andOsamu Kamijō
Additional mechanical design: Kinji Yoshimoto, L. Lime, Satoshi Urushihara and Yoshihisa Fujita

Comments: It's now two and half years since I signed up to the Bean Bandit Kickstarter project of a new blu-ray release with additional animation, but I've yet to clap my eyes on the final product. Time presses and this survey waits for no one, even if the most recent updates indicate that delivery isn't far away. A shame really - the Kickstarter blu-ray of the OAV's later sibling, Gunsmith Cats, is sitting proudly on my shelf waiting for the survey to get to 1995. When the updated Bean Bandit finally arrives I'll provide a report, but in its absence I'm relying on other sources for this review of the original release.


Top: images from the Kickstarter updates; left - Kenichi Sonada with bonus art book and manga; right - Rally.
Bottom: images from the original OAV; Sonada worships cars as much as he does guns and petite, violent women.


Along with Masamune Shirow, Kenichi Sonada's name has been popping up frequently of late in the grand survey. Each developed further, in their own particular way, the Dirty Pair template of comic fighting females. Where Shirow loaded his stories with sophisticated cyberpunk philosophising and displayed his drafting skills - in the manga at least - with astonishingly detailed and precise futuristic landscapes, Sonada deploys his similar talents in the service of his three fetishes: cars, guns and girls. Both present their female characters in a highly sexualised manner, but Shirow is more considered in his treatment: he gets inside their heads in a way that engenders sympathy. Sonada stands apart from his female characters: they are more objects for his and our amusement, in much the same way he lovingly presents the cars and the guns. Never as prolific as Shirow, he has in recent years taken over his family's wagashi confectionery business that has been running for over 400 years. Apparently he has introduced the first new product line in 115 years by adding lemon peel to one of the sweets. Makes sense, really. Both Riding Bean and its spiritual successor Gunsmith Cats are solid confection with a tart edge to their flavour.

It's worth noting how Sonoda introduces the two main characters to the viewer. The OAV opens with a black screen and the sound of someone getting in then starting up a car - presumably Bean Bandit and his Roadbuster. When an image appears - an establishing aerial view of night time Chicago (and more on that shortly) - the camera leads the viewer's eye to the car, with the shadowy figure of Bean inside. Straight away we are being told what's important here: the car. Bean hasn't aged well as a character. Certainly not as well as the Shelby Cobra driven by his arch-rival Percy Bacharach. (I wonder if it's the very same Shelby Cobra Rally drives in Gunsmith Cats.) He's very much an 80s / 90s character type: long triangular face, older than today's protagonists, possessor of supernatural strength, confident and cool under pressure yet goofily simple in his habits. He could be described as an anti-hero in that he's a lawbreaker with a soft heart. To whit, appalled at the villain's treatment of children he means to kill her. Chicago Noir, you might say

In a similar vein, Rally is introduced to the viewer as she dresses for work the following day. As gratuitous fanservice goes, this is quite nicely done. Watching a woman dress of a morning is one of life's simple, intimate pleasures. Like the cars and the guns, Rally's body and her clothing are precisely and neatly rendered; her form a sculptured work of art, fit perfectly for her intended role. Happily, there's a bit more to her than that. As a character she's more impenetrable than Bean. Sure she's smart, autonomous and highly competent, but I never got a fix on her moral compass. (Chicago Noir again.) Where Bean has his empathy for children, Rally wants to run a profitable, low-risk business (as much as their line of work allows). She stands out as the only character depicted without exaggeration. You might consider her as the straight person in a cast of weirdos. If you're familiar with her cheery Gunsmith Cats demeanour - with black hair to boot - this serious version may come as a surprise.


Top: Semmerling and Carrie make for an unsettling pair of criminals.
Bottom: Bean Bandit (left) will win over kidnapping target, wealthy George Grimwood (right).


Rally's original persona is in keeping with Riding Bean's edgier tone. The supposed good guys want to kill the villains. There's a police officer who's one aim in life is to run the Roadbuster off the road. Killing Bean would be necessary collateral damage. Bank robbers will shoot bystanders as soon as look at them. Bean happily escorts said bank robbers from the scenes of their crimes. Most alarming are the vicious Semmerling and her volatile child lover and knife nut, Carrie. Using lesbianism as a marker of depravity wouldn't be acceptable in these days of marriage equality, but there's no doubting Semmerling's sadistic nastiness. Watching her beat Carrie then give her a French kiss is uncomfortable stuff, magnified by Carrie's enthusiastic forgiveness in the wake of the kiss. Sure, Colonel Radinov from Gunsmith Cats is every bit her equal in any amorality stakes, but the lighter tone of the later OAV mitigates the discomfort significantly. Sonoda seems to have a penchant for thoroughly nasty female villains.

Riding Bean establishes a new trope in the girls with guns genre in anime: the use of exotic locations (for Japan). Sonoda and co bring the action down to earth from outer space and onto the mood laden streets of Chicago, simultaneously making it both familiar and strange to the Japanese viewer. Iconic series in its wake will visit Paris (Noir), Rome and Naples (Gunslinger Girl), Thailand (Black Lagoon) and Mexico (El Cazador de la Bruja). Even where anime within the genre are set in Japan they tend to inhabit a sci-fi future. Chicago makes a perfect backdrop, with its legendary history of prohibition and gangsters and its mixture of freeways and rail-enclosed city streets. I was disappointed with the American dub. It not only made no attempt to provide colloquial accents or vocabulary (compare with Baccano! to hear how it can be done) but lazily had the voice actors either scream the lines at each other or seemingly randomly stress one word in each sentence for supposed dramatic effect. Much better is the Chicago sound inspired soundtrack from local composer David Garfield. The style of music isn't to my taste, but it matches the anime perfectly and ensures that it stands out among its anime contemporaries.

Rating: decent. Despite its Chicago setting the anime sets out to have fun (albeit with some edginess), rather than give us high noir drama with all its examination of moral ambiguity.
+ character designs; the cars (if that's your thing); constant action; the kidnap and ransom plan is clever; soundtrack; takes the genre in a new direction
- some scenes may be uncomfortable for viewers; American dub; simple characterisations; the setting is crying out for better background artwork; use of lesbianism as a marker of depravity

Resources:
ANN
The font of all wisdom
500 Essential Anime Movies: the Ultimate Guide, Helen McCarthy, Collins Design


Chelsea Grimwood - decoy kidnapping victim.


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Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 10:36 am Reply with quote
I always found it quite interesting on how different Rally Vincent is designed in Gunsmith Cats and in Riding Bean, especially considering that Kenichi Sonoda is the creator of both! Although I must say that it's not as extreme as the difference in the designs for all the characters in Megazone 23 and Megazone 23 Part II.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 4:09 pm Reply with quote
For comparison:



Character designs aside, the artwork in Gunsmith Cats is better. The Chicago settings are more evocative.
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Alan45
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Joined: 25 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 8:37 pm Reply with quote
Basically you have to think of the two Rally Vincents as two different characters. There is no real practical way to fit both into the same continuity.

Back when the original Gunsmith Cats manga was coming out from Dark Horse, I remember reading that Sonoda wanted Rally's name to sound masculine and initially intended to name her Larry.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2020 1:34 am Reply with quote
Given that Japanese don't distinguish "l" and "r" phonemically, then the names are the same. Either way, Rally is more redolent of motor sports.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 4:26 am Reply with quote
The review of Rhea Gall Force that originally appeared in this post has been moved here so that it appears in its correct chronological order.

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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2020 8:14 am Reply with quote
The review of Perrine Monogatari that originally appeared in this post has been moved here so that it now appears in the survey in its proper chronological place. Thanks to Melbourne's comprehensive lockdown from March until earlier this month and a unbroken sequence of 28 movies or OAVs for the survey I've had plenty of spare anime watching time. I've taken the opportunity to alternate between recent releases and older shows from the late 70s and early 80s, including Perrine Monogatari. This anime, from what has come to be known post facto as the "Word Masterpiece Theatre" series, turned out to be such a revelation that I wanted to retrofit it into the survey.

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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2020 2:43 am Reply with quote
I've got things out of order again. Perrine Monogatari aside, I had an incorrect release date for Rhea Gall Force (now corrected to 21/03/1989). That puts it after this film, as well the next entry in the survey, a short film from the Himitsu no Akko-chan franchise. (Bangs head on desk.)

Beautiful Fighting Girl #103: Susan Sommers and Miranda,



Venus Wars

Synopsis: After a comet collision blew away most of the toxic, greenhouse atmosphere of Venus, humans quickly terraformed the planet so that, by 2089, it has become home to two large, rival nations, Aphrodia and Ishtar. Reporter Susan Sommers travels from Earth to Venus to cover the simmering tensions between the two nations. On the very day of her arrival in Io, the capital of Aphrodia, the city is captured in a surprise attack by the Ishtari forces. She links up with a rebel gang - the Killer Commandos - who, until the attack, raced motorised mono-cycles, and begins an affair with one of its members, Will. The gang is led by a commanding and charismatic woman, Miranda, and includes a talented, tearaway rider in Hiro. Their activities quickly find them linking up with guerrilla remnants of the Aphrodian army - their mono-cycles proving adept at attacking and destroying the Ishtari extended supply lines into Io. Events will lead Susan to a confrontation with the commander of the occupying forces, Gerhard Donner.

Production details:
Release date: 11 March 1989
Director / screenplay / character design: Yoshikazu Yasuhiko from his own manga, Vinasu Senki, published in Nora Comics from 1987 to 1989. He is notable for his character designs for the original Mobile Suit Gundam, while his director roles include Crusher Joe: The Movie, Giang Gorg, Arion, Kaze to Ki no Uta SANCTUS -Sei naru kana-, and Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin.
Co-screenwriter: Yuichi Sasamoto
Music: Joe Hisaishi (notable for his long association with Hayao Miyazaki)
Art director: Shichiro Kobayashi
Animation director: Sachiko Kamimura & Toshihiro Kawamoto
Mechanical design: Kow Yokoyama & Makoto Kobayashi


Top left: one of my favourite male seiyuu, Kaneto Shiozawa, provides villainous Gerhard Donner with a deliciously slimy voice.
Top right: Gary, the Killer Commando chief mechanic who provides the gang with a secret stash of weapons.
Middle: Ishtari aircraft and tank.
Bottom left: Susan's new boyfriend, Will; the bevy of girls should tell you that the female characters have a largely ornamental role.
Bottom right: awkward blending of animated characters in a live setting.


Comments: I've been in two minds whether to include this film as central to the survey, relegate it to the marginalia category or leave it out altogether. The problem is that, although Susan Sommers is the point of view character who bookends the film and takes the viewer with her as she infiltrates the Killer Commandos, the real protagonist is Hiro, the mono-cycle riding gang member who is the most willing fighter against the Ishtari and who finishes off what Susan can't quite manage to do. In due course I decided to run with it as Susan is something of a novel character for the survey so far, and the film is instructive in the way it portrays seemingly strong women in an otherwise good action / war movie aimed at a male audience.

Let's start with what's good about the film. First off, it consists of a series of dazzling action scenes: a mono-cycle competition that blends Roller Ball with the pod racers from Star Wars; full blown tank battles, including an epic dual between Hiro in a towering mining crane and multi-turreted battle tank; Hiro being chased through a shopping centre complex and then down into the twisting tunnels and roads of Io; the ongoing battles between the mono-cycles and the Ishtari army units that culminate in a final showdown between Hiro and Gerhard Donner on a steeply curving launch pad. The sequences are elaborately (to borrow a term from Theron Martin's ANN review) conceived, compellingly choreographed, nicely detailed and whose animation clearly benefits from a handy budget. That said, there isn't much complexity or depth beyond the big set piece scenes.

Second, with a couple of glaring exceptions, it's a handsome movie. The character designs - an area where Yoshikazu Yasuhiko shines - stand out, even coming off a sequence of Kenichi Sonada OAVs. The quality of the animation brings the characters to life, giving them easily grasped personalities. Likewise the mechanical designs - the mono-cycles, tanks and aircraft - are a treat, though owing much to Moebius via Hayao Miyazaki and Makoto Kobayashi. The background artwork also dazzles, ranging from the epic to the domestic, from labyrinthine to elegant, from comic to menacing. Unfortunately, sometimes the multi-planing awkwardly draws attention to itself, where the painted cels, obviously stacked on top of one another, take the viewer out of the imagined world. Even worse are scenes where monochrome live action backgrounds sit clumsily with animated foregrounds.

And, lastly, there's the Joe Hisaishi soundtrack. Most of the time it's standard 80s synth-pop with a heavy beat, but his personality does shine through a couple of times - in a sombre piano piece that harks back to Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind or Robot Carnival, and an urgent orchestral section for the climactic battle. The music suits the anime, but there aren't any individual pieces that I'd want to listen to outside the film, which isn't normally the case with this composer. The insert songs are also typical, and forgettable, 80s fare


Susan, Miranda and Hiro's love interest, Maggie.

Effervescent Susan Sommers is our eyes into the cauldron of Venusian society. As an accredited journalist I'd imagine she'd be in her twenties, yet she behaves like a teenager. Despite the key role she plays, the movies establishes her true value from the moment she arrives on Venus, when customs officers, purely for their own gratification (and, naturally, the audience's as well), force her to completely undress. She's something of a clown, blithely and guilelessly stepping into danger to get her all important scoop. Of all the characters, she will suffer the most traumatic loss in a film that, for the most part, breezily treats war more as an adventure than tragedy or horror. The tonal about face doesn't quite convince, though it does provide the impetus for her dramatic face off with Gerhard Donner in one of the better non-action scenes of the film. Nevertheless, the trauma of sexual humiliation or personal loss doesn't sit long and, by the end, she's off to do it all over again.

The other two significant female characters don't live up to their initial promise. Leader of the Killer Commandos, Miranda, is quickly established as having moral authority over the young men in her charge. A sharp glance or word will put them in their place. But, like Susan, she will have her obligatory undressing scene. This time the viewer is a secret voyeur as she showers. What you make of these scenes will be determined by your attitude to fanservice, but they do indicate who Yoshikazu Yasuhiko is aiming to entertain. For sure, Masamune Shirow undresses his female characters every bit as readily, but they are, otherwise, rather more substantial. The most disappointing thing about Miranda is that, for all her magnetism, she doesn't do much, becoming less and less relevant as the film progresses.

I read the three main female characters as child (Susan), mother (Miranda) and wife (Maggie). The latter is the least interesting of the three. She's the nice girl who supports and nurtures the hero when he's injured, his refuge and reward, neither highly sexualised nor subject to a ritual undressing. The message is conservative: the good girl gets the hero, the liberated girls are left to please themselves and move on. In the end, the three women are decorative attachments in a regular story about a young man establishing his identity through heroic action. This survey has much higher expectations of anime.


Hiro.

Rating: good
+ action scenes; mechanical designs; character designs; animation & artwork (for the most part)
- not much depth to the story or characters; occasional lapses in the background artwork

Resources:
ANN, including Theron Martin's review
The font of all knowledge
The Classic Anime Museum: Venus Wars
500 Essential Anime Movies: the Ultimate Guide, Helen McCarthy, Collins Design


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Beltane70



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2020 6:13 pm Reply with quote
The original manga of Venus Wars was actually quite different from the anime film. Unlike the film, the manga covers two entirely separate storylines with two entirely different sets of characters.

The movie only covers the first story arc of the manga with a number of changes, the biggest being the fact that Susan Sommers doesn't appear at all in the manga, The mono-cycles are also exclusive to the movie, replacing the normal motorcycles that are used in the manga. Miranda also takes on a much more active role in the manga and is actually killed in battle while fighting Ishtari forces.

The second arc of the manga that's not covered by the film focuses on an internal conflict between opposing factions in the Ishtarian government. The most interesting part of the second arc is that the main character and hero of the story is assassinated at the end of the last chapter after thwarting an attempted coup.
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