And we’re back! As if to make up for thinner pickings in our last post, the past fortnight has produced rather more attention to older anime. Truly our cup runneth over.
As usual, remarks from Feez are in blue and those from Thaliarchus are in red.
Washi has an extensive new post about the creation and legacy of Hakujaden (1958), the feature film which was Toei’s first major production and an important point of origin for the anime industry. Hakujaden‘s a title which usefully demonstrates the difference between a predecessor and a progenitor: interesting and substantial animation had been created in Japan much earlier, and animators had been doing marginal TV work (for adverts, for instance) in the years before, but there’s an organic link to pretty much all commercial anime today which goes back to this film and no further. Washi’s post explains the film’s genesis and the competing philosophies of animation which can be found in its scenes (check out the fantastic background art!).
Zimmerit is making a bit of a habit of bringing rare production materials to light. This time it’s the first pitch document for the TV show concept which would eventually become the OVA Megazone 23 (1985–89). Megazone 23 was made quite early in the history of videotape as a viable first release format for anime, and the decision to produce it as an OVA wasn’t as obvious at the time as it might’ve been just one or two years later, so this is a fascinating document. I’m amused to see that some of the rhetorical positioning designed to separate it from similar works—’Here’s what’s different about this one’ statements—isn’t far off from academic grant writing. The shamelessly overt commercial motivation (‘Endlessly Expanding Toy Opportunities’!) is fun, too. I love learning about the production process and conceptualization of classic anime. The OVA boom of the 1980s is also a peculiar thing to think about. What if the format hadn’t taken off? It’s really interesting to explore the risk-taking directors and studios took back then.
The latest piece from Let’s Anime is a survey of the remarkable bench strength of anime in 1978. As Dave cheerfully admits, declaring ’78 the Best Ever is mostly a framing device, but he also has a point: there really were a lot of great titles, and in a time when there were far fewer anime in any single year than there are today, too. The 70s had so many great and influential titles, many of which I’ve yet to watch. 1978 did bring us Daimos, an anime I’m still going through but have greatly enjoyed. And of course there’s Tomino’s Daitarn 3, which paved the way to Mobile Suit Gundam a year later.
The indefatigable subbers at Orphan have more releases out, and as usual Collectr’s written helpful primers. Nine: Original-ban (1983) is a partial adaptation of the first original manga by that master of gentle sports romances, Mitsuru Adachi, originally made as a television special and then given a cinema run. Akuma Tou no Prince: Mitsume ga Tooru (1985) is another TV special, this time using Tezuka’s character Sharaka.
Over at Land of Obscusion, George has a thorough write-up on (take a deep breath now) The King of Braves GaoGaiGar Final: Grand Glorious Gathering, a 2005 attempt to combine the 2000–03 OVA GaoGaiGar Final with elements from Betterman (1999) (yes, keeping track of this does give me a headache). Grand Glorious Gathering was not an entirely successful project, but it is nice to have a detailed discussion of it as a curiosity. On a related note, I’m stoked that GaoGaiGar is making a return to Super Robot Wars in its upcoming installment, T. George’s also written a similarly chunky appreciation of 2007’s GR: Giant Robo, the red-headed stepchild among Mitsuteru Yokoyama tribute anime.
Molly Brenan writes comparatively about sexual assault in the films Belladonna of Sadness (1973) and Perfect Blue (1997).
At Atelier Emily, Emily reflects on Sailor Moon, describing how the heroine’s normality and reluctance to fight seem to her as she returns to the show as an adult.
And another of our mainstays, the Great OAV Watch, has produced new coverage of Ninja Ryuukenden / Ninja Gaiden (1991), Cat Soup (2001), Eiyuu Gaiden Mozaika (1991), the notorious Violence Jack (1986–90), Eternal Filena (1992–3) and Legend of the Phantom Heroes / Phantom Yuusha Densetsu (1991).
Cat Soup has also been getting some attention on VRV’s company block, where Blake writes on its presentation of consumption.
Finally, Feez pulls together what little we know about ‘Turn A Space’, a series concept in some way related to Turn A Gundam which never saw the light of day in any single, unified form. Here’s a fun piece of trivia to muse over: according to Romi Park (Loran’s voice actress), Tomino once told her he’d like to remake Turn A Gundam twenty years later. Turn A celebrates its twentieth broadcast-start anniversary in April of 2019.
Dynamite in the Brain convenes to discuss In the Aftermath (1988), the live-action project which used interspersed footage from Angel’s Egg; and then again to cover Tokyo Movie Shinsha’s output from 1987–95.
Anime Feminist’s podcast has kicked-off a series on Escaflowne (1996) with a discussion of the first six episodes.
- Gutsy Frog 14 (Gutsy)
- Bonobono (1995) 28 (GANGO)
- Chibi Maruko-chan 63 (Maru-chan Subs)
- Attack No. 1 77 (OldCastle; thank you to TrustTheFungus for reminding us about this)
- Glass Mask 20 (OldCastle; HD rerelease)
- Laughing Salesman 56–60 (Live-Evil and Saizen)
- Nine: Original-ban (Orphan)
- Akuma Tou no Prince: Mitsume ga Tooru (Orphan)
What we’ve been up to
Feez — I’ve mostly been playing video games. Recently finished up Ys: Memories of Celceta, which I personally found more enjoyable than the reputation its attained within fandom. I liked the idea of exploring an uncharted forest and learning its mysteries and recovering Adol’s memories. Onwards to Ys VIII next! I’ve also started a replay of Ocarina of Time to celebrate its 20th anniversary. It’s been eighteen years since I’ve last played that game, so I’m enjoying it greatly. Finally, Smash Ultimate drops in a few days and I’m excited!
Thaliarchus — I’ve been watching Gun x Sword in preparation for Super Robot Wars T. I’m about a third of the way through the show now, and enjoying it, although I think I’d hesitate to recommend it to a general audience! Its mid-2000s digital colouring and effects haven’t aged terribly well but it has a very good episode about a retired super robot crew.