Is it over yet? No. How about now? No. Now!? Still no. … Mediocrity is my keyword for Garaga, or to be more precise, Hyper Psychic Geo Garaga. Might as well give the full title and dress this anime up in it’s Sunday best because at least to me and many others this movie ain’t looking too good. Lop this title in with the others on the ‘bad’, or ‘pointless’ list. Spacey sci-fi titles by 1989 were getting a little stale in the face of more contemporary cyberpunk stories and quality standards for animation had grown leaps and bounds since the decade began. Alas Garaga was retreading old territory and not presenting itself very well.
Many anime titles are a joy to write for, but this time round I have to do my job and get on with it. Garaga began as a manga like many anime and would eventually makes it’s way into the hands of animation studios. May we return to the late 1980s, a time of great abundance in Japan where in particular direct to video OVAs were being made like food at a short order diner. Some OVAs looked very polished in terms of story and presentation, while some looked cheap and on a budget either because it was a small independent production, or perhaps funding got tight. Garaga began on the OVA route on the cheaper end, but would eventually get expanded into a full feature film by 1989. This meant it was placed next to titles like Kiki’s Delivery Service, Patlabor: The Movie and Venus Wars as examples. Not to be mean, but Garaga looked like an eyesore compared to these three examples.
Beyond what was said previously, let’s investigate Garaga’s plot, which jumps around too much between so many dull characters. First we begin as the ship XeBeC leaves station with a crew more competent than it’s captain. By the way they are carrying special cargo, two life capsules. Then they evacuate in an escape shuttle to some mysterious planet, Garaga, and wake up the two ladies who were sleeping in the capsules. Then it turns into Planet of the Apes… where did these apemen come from? Then some psychic lady shows up. And then the crew all reveal that they are military and have a mission on this planet. What!? Oh yeah I forgot to mention some military commander wanting to control Garaga who is actually a pawn for some cyborg who wants to eradicate everyone, be it the Earth humans, the native psychics who look like humans and the apemen. Is it over yet? NO!! We still have half the movie to go… sigh. Please make it stop.
Let’s propose something here? I want to leave something of a point of praise for Hyper Psychic Geo Garaga, though I am finding it quite difficult. The title itself could have been great for a mecha TV show, or OVA. And if it could have been that way then make it a really cheesy super robot show at that. From another perspective when watching Garaga I felt like I was watching a possible Saturday morning cartoon, except the violence is a bit heavier than something shown here in the west. Certain character designs I could see as action figures such as Jay, or Farla and even the apemen. Would you buy these toys? As this was released in 1989, the year Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles debuted here in the west, Garaga would have been a competitor that would have lost out big to Turtle’s popularity. … You know, maybe it’s best to let Garaga just be and move on?
Hyper Psychic Geo Garaga won’t be a title I will be re-watching for a while, maybe if ever again. When cataloguing a vast collection, or even doing menial work, sometimes we have to grit our teeth to get things done. Not every piece of anime is a gem, some are quite a drudge in fact. Yet even these less than interesting titles are also a part of this vast family of anime classics; yet I can’t call Garaga a classic in the traditional sense. At least this one is over and I can move on now. … So in my own personal opinion just how bad was Garaga? Honestly, I would rather watch Odin!