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Buried Garbage - Garzey's Wing

by Justin Sevakis,

I'll admit, I love bad movies. Every time I'm at a dollar store, I scour through the piles of $1 double features hoping to find some ridiculous gem like "Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave"... or my most recent discovery, "Black Cobra", a blaxspoloitation movie featuring none other than Fred Williamson (already old and fat) and a horde of dubbed-over Italians. I'm on the fence as to whether this is a hobby or something pathological: when my mother asks me for a list of stocking stuffers for Christmas, I tell her to buy me whatever cheap DVD's that make her embarrassed I'm her son.

Anime, of course, has its share of these, the so-bad-they're-good crap-fests. To be incorporated into Justin's crap pile, an anime must meet several criteria: it must be poorly made, it must be CRAZY, and above all, it must NOT be boring.

Garzey's Wing is all of these, and more. It's the Battlefield Earth of anime.

Garzey's Wing

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A few weeks ago, in my column on Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, I mentioned my lack of respect for Yoshiyuki Tomino. More specifically, I pointed out his seeming inability to tie together potentially-interesting story elements into anything resembling a cohesive narrative. Instead, he relies on the crutch of expository dialogue to tell his story, and completely forgets to make his characters the least bit interesting.

If Tomino storytelling is the syndrome, Garzey's Wing is the emaciated, pus-oozing poster child. It's wild. It's chaotic. It's filled with ridiculous, never-ending dialogue. AND IT MAKES NO FREAKING SENSE.

You know you're in for a treat from the minute you pop Garzey's Wing into the DVD player. After MD Geist pivots his way across your screen like some satanic Chuck E. Cheese robot, we are greeted to one of the worst menu designs in anime DVD history:

Yeah. Hit enter, and we meet Chris, a slacker ronin (pre-college, not samurai) who's apparently half Caucasian for no important reason. He seems easy going. His friend Rumiko, frustrated because Chris is so easygoing, remarks disgustedly, "you are so easygoing!"

While driving home on his motorcycle, Chris' necklace starts rattling on its own. Like most people, Chris immediately assumes it must be because of The Shrine he's passing by. Just then, a GIGANTIC DUCK comes down from the sky and takes Chris away! Except now he's naked! And yet, he looks down and can see that he's still clothed and driving his motorcycle!

That's right, folks. A giant duck. We will never know why this happens, or if this duck is friendly or merely large and adorable. Chris falls through the dimensions and ends up in Byston Well, which is the land in which Aura Battler Dunbine takes place, only quite some time before the events of that show. Chris lands in the middle of a battle, and must fight to stay alive, despite being completely naked. There are dinosaurs here. They use bows and arrows. The people he meets explain to him that Chris is a Holy Warrior (hence, his occasionally winged feet), and will help free their people from enslavement at the hands of a despot ruler.

Chris, being a spoiled brat from an industrialized country, is none too happy about this. Luckily, though some magic bells, he can communicate with the Chris that is still on Earth. Earth Chris is looking forward to going to a pool party. He has some bruises on his body (from Byston Well Chris fighting naked, as they apparently share one body), and, horrified at what Byston Well Chris tells him is happening, declares that he must "do Chi: spiritual unification." What does that mean, exactly? I have no idea. I think it has something to do with martial arts.

The next hour attempts to construct something of a political backdrop with the king and the enslaved people trying to escape. Chris, meanwhile, continues fighting in their wars while Earth Chris goes to his pool party and passes out, causing his friends to worry slightly. It all leads up to one gigantic battle.

And then it just ends. That's it. After that battle, the old wise man makes the shattering observation that "humans are just humans," and we get credits. Chris' two halves never reunite, and one half is apparently stuck in Byston Well forever. I guess Earth Chris didn't do enough Chi and Spiritual Unification.

If you couldn't tell, Garzey's Wing is a mess, in a way only a failed epic can be. It desperately tries to tell a story, but is so incompetent that it never seems to even have a story to tell in the first place. It's like getting a ten-year-old to try to summarize Atlas Shrugged for you -- you're gonna get a lot of words, and one or two of them might almost make sense here and there, but any point in telling the story at all is completely defeated.

So, what happened? Why is this OAV such a disaster from the get-go? The budget is decent, and the animation, while not stellar, is passable for its mid-90's vintage. When Yoshiyuki Tomino was invited to Big Apple Anime Fest back in 2002, I got the impression that something must have gone wrong somewhere in the production process. Since Central Park Media (who I worked for at the time) was incubating the convention, our production team ran the interview room, and we attempted to get sound bites and interviews for the various DVDs we were planning to release. [EDIT: Since people have dug this up and are taking offense at this story years later, I should mention I was NOT in the room for this, only heard about it from co-workers after the fact.] Garzey's Wing was already released, but it was the only thing in the CPM catalog Tomino had any part in, so we hammered him with question after question about nothing but Garzey's Wing. Despite both sides' attempt to be polite, it was pretty clear what was being asked, and what the answer was:

Q: Uh... what happened? A: I don't want to talk about it.

Four years later, Tomino would make almost the exact same mistakes in Wings of Rean, albeit with a much bigger budget. Apparently, he didn't learn his lesson. But as bad as Wings of Rean is, it can't even touch Garzey's Wing... because what makes Garzey's Wing truly unforgettable and pushes it from merely a disaster to outright comedy gold is its English dub.

The now-classic dub was the last produced for CPM by Skypilot Entertainment, a small outfit based on Staten Island, the sprawling New York City borough best known for its landfills. Utilizing a bunch of unknown actors, director Peter Bavaro crafted what must be the least-directed, most hastily-produced dub in history. Reading the already-incomprehensible subtitle script verbatim, actors can be heard tripping over their lines and slogging their way through eleven-syllable Japanese names that clearly mean absolutely nothing to them. It's like Ed Wood directed an anime dub.

It's easy to blame Bavaro for the show being so incomprehensible, but really, nobody could ever make anything good out of the dialogue in Garzey's Wing. Characters step on each others' lines, repeat themselves like parrots ("Is that the Holy Warrior?") and say things that, in context, make absolutely no sense. It's like some Dadaist poetry, where each line is a complete nonsequitor.

I must admit, I've never been able to sit through the entire DVD. I've scanned through it enough times to pick out the best scenes, which I often play at parties and quote among friends. And now I do the same for you. No need to thank me.

A Abundant. Available anywhere that carries anime.
C Common. In print, and always available online.
R1 US release out of print, still in stock most places.
R2 US release out of print, not easy to find.
R3 Import only, but it has English on it.
R4 Import only. Fansubs commonly available.
R5 Import only, and out of print. Fansubs might be out there.
R6 Import long out of print. No fansubs are known to exist.
R7 Very rare. Limited import release or aired on TV with no video release. No fansubs known to exist.
R8 Never been on the market. Almost impossible to obtain.
Adapted from Soviet-Awards.com.

How To Get It: Central Park Media's DVD (now with a vastly improved cover) is still in print and can be had online for less than $10. It's probably not worth much more than that. The video quality isn't great by today's standards, but hey, I bought it for the audio.

Footnote: As Brent Long in the forums pointed out to me, Kip Kaplan and his Audioworks Producers Group are actually credited on the DVD with this dub. I could have sworn that this was a Skypilot dub (I was new at CPM when this was produced), but my memory could be failing. If that's the case, my most sincere apologies to Skypilot and Mr. Bavaro for blaming this trainwreck on him. Audioworks produced many absolutely terrible dubs for CPM over the years (along with a handful of decent ones), but my main evidence that this is not one of theirs is that Kip himself does not appear in the dub. (Kip usually voiced at least a few bit parts in his productions.) Until someone who was in the know can enlighten me, we'll leave this question open.

Screenshots ©1996 Tomino Yoshiyuki • Garzey's Wing Production Committee. All rights reserved.

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