10 Ladies Who Defined Mecha Excellence… 80s Edition (Part 2)

Hey you pilot that giant robot like a girl! Once considered a “man’s job”, like several other jobs, the occupation of being a mecha pilot has over the years shown that skill and finesse are not confined to one’s gender. “Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you, No you can’t… oh hell yes I CAN!”

Let us now pay tribute to a selection of ladies who are some of the best giant robot pilots EVER! And yeah, it’s an all 80s cast… as usual… you know me, no matter what year it is, to me it can still be 1987, or 1982, or 85, 89, 86… etc. etc. A small note, this will be a listing of pilots I know from shows I have seen. This means in the future I can create additional entries once I become aware of even more talented pilots. For this second round I pick…


Sara Yuki
Dancougar

ME_Sara

The Cyber Beast team’s only female member and pilot of the Land Cougar. Haunted by the love for her ex who defected early on to the enemy, Sara is perhaps the most complex character in all of Dancougar. Also has some of the best 80s hair in my opinion!


Haruka Kaga/Lisa
Armored Fleet Diarugger XV/Voltron

ME_Haruka

Piloting one of the submarine like mechs, the Aquatic Space Explorations Prober, that is Dairugger’s/Voltron’s right thigh, Haruka/Lisa is a valuable member of the Keats/Sea Team.


Kazumi Amano
Aim For the Top! Gunbuster

ME_Kazumi

The idol of the academy and the most talented senior admired by everyone who looks to be the obvious shoo-in for the Gunbuster project. The coach thinks so as well and decides to pair her up with a novice freshman, which at first seems a little ironic.


Iczer-1 & Nagisa
Fight! Iczer-One

ME_Izcer1_Nagisa

Meet the renegade Cthulhu who has more interest in saving the Earth and it’s people instead of invasion and conquering and her partner, a fairly typical high school girl. Much like a call to action, it is Iczer-1 who brings the hero out of the timid Nagisa.


Houquet et Rose/Rook Bartley
Genesis Climber Mospeada/Robotech

ME_Houquet

A streetwise girl on a motorcycle who is part of a rag tag group of rebels trying to get to Reflex Point, the home base of the invading alien race the Inbit/Invid. Just be careful during the journey when you bump into your own hometown and see an old boyfriend and your mom.


Ikuuru
Dragon’s Heaven

ME_Iruuku

The things you find in a desert on a random day… A wandering nomadic girl happens to find a fossil of a warrior mech, Shaian, and quickly becomes great friends with the sentient wonder. Soon they fight Shaian’s old rival together and live happily ever after. How cute!


Mia Alice
Dangaioh

ME_Mia

Mia was the first Dangaioh pilot to wake up and be put to the test of demonstrating her skills. She is the most quiet and gentile member of the Dangaioh team, but also the most capable of demonstrating leadership. Her superpower is that of moving energy which can act as a shield.


Galaria (Garalia) Nyamhee
Aura Battler Dunbine

ME_Galaria

A talented and promising native Byston Well pilot who seems to always have a grudge on her shoulder. She is a strong feminist who believes that because of her gender she is always being overlooked for promotion… or perhaps part of it is her personal frustration?


Mary Angel/Marie Crystal
Super Dimension Calvary Southern Cross/Robotech

ME_Mary

The tough as nails ace pilot for the Tactical Armored Space Corps whose no nonsense attitude and approach gives her a reputation of being an ice queen. Yet beneath the exterior she is very vulnerable and never lets that get in the way of her duty… except for that one time.


Athena Henderson
Super Dimension Century Orguss

ME_Athena

The emerging young ace pilot for Chiram Army who finds a rival in the supposed Singularity, or as the English dub called him, the Differentiated Idioblast? The only catch is the fact that this man that she hates so much is her long lost father… wait, what! NO!! This can’t be true, NO!!!

MyFather

to be continued…

#176 : Fight! Iczer-One

One could argue that Fight! Iczer-One could possibly pass as a modern anime besides the fact that it was all analog cel drawn animation. Fight! Iczer-One fits strongly into an action fan service styled affair that was a little unique for 1985. Perhaps this is one of the predecessors to this kind of genre that is popular to certain fans? When it comes to very early action OVAs Fight! Iczer-One is one of the better known titles and it’s fun to watch, but  I will be the first to admit that it is not on my go to list. Needless to say I salute those of you who are diehard fans, because after all it’s these little eccentric titles that we attached ourselves to that round out our fandom beyond the obvious big name titles.

FI1_1Fight! Iczer-One has it’s followers and fanbase and is part of what is the yuri (girl’s love) sub genre, inserted with a lot of high octane action. As an action OVA it does a great job and is equal parts ecchi fantasy of pretty girls either kicking the crap out of each other, or having crushes and romantic fascinations, Lovecraftian horror elements and super robot mecha plot lines standards. Truly, a creative and different mix of ideas. I wonder if Fight! Iczer-One possibly had an early incarnation of going towards hentai/porn before before settling into it’s current guise? Project A-Ko, though not exactly similar, but kind of similiar to Fight! Iczer-One followed this, but in a more playful way. And according to research, yes, Fight! Iczer-One does have ties with the Cream Lemon hentai series. Fight! Iczer-One on the other hand is dark, really dark (and I usually like dark stuff?), and borrows the previously mentioned H.P. Lovecraft down to the naming of the invading aliens, the Cthulhu. From another angle, this has early LGBT themes expressed in anime and that is a positive!

FI1_2The call of the hero to join the fight is strong with Fight! Iczer-One. The previously mentioned Cthulhu are searching for a new home world. They are also in the process of stopping the renegade Iczer-One from gaining contact with her perfect partner on Earth, Nagisa. Iczer-One is Earth’s only hope and her tracking down of her partner is vital to the proper workings of the Iczer-Robo. Nagisa of course is just your typical school girl where all life is perfect until one dark day when she begins to be harassed by the Cthulhu’s invading monsters. Add to this her chance meetings with Iczer-One seem awkward. “Who is this girl in the funny outfit following me all the time”, I can imagine Nagisa saying? Things change when the Cthulhu invade Nagisa’s parents and it takes her a while to get over the crybaby phase of, “Why do I have to fight? Why did this happen to me?”

FI1_3My favorite part of Fight! Iczer-One is director and character designer Toshihiro Hirano. I love his work as a whole with titles like Megazone 23 (pt. 1) (character designs only), Dangaioh, Vampire Princess Miyu and Magic Knight Rayearth (CLAMP!) standing out as personal favorites. His designs for women in particular are very appealing in a doll like way… maybe it’s in the eyes? Hirano ranks up their to Haruhiko Mikimoto and Yoshikazu Yasuhiko (and others that are not coming to mind at the moment) in my book for character designs in anime. The budget had to have been good for Fight! Iczer-One because the production looks very good in terms of detail and drawing. Many of the early OVAs and even movies from the 1980s that had the budget and care given to them were what made us go, “DAMN! Where have these cartoons been all our lives?”

FI1_4Fun, unique and a whole lot of ‘kick-ass’, Fight! Iczer-One is a standard for the early OVA market of the mid 1980s. Maybe not my favorite by a long shot, I do give Fight! Iczer-One all the respect it deserves. Also being a quick trilogy makes Fight! Iczer-One easy to digest. That and who is to say it is not one of my guilty pleasures that I don’t want to admit to? Also, how many anime have guest appearances from from Zeta Gundam that’s not another Gundam series? Can you spot Kamille and Fa? I wonder if they needed the extra money and picked up Fight! Iczer-One as a side job?

1985… Homeward Bound

Anime and Simon & Garfunkel… now here’s a nice combination to consider…

I’m sitting in the railway station
Got a ticket to my destination
On a tour of one-night stands my suitcase and guitar in hand
And every stop is neatly planned for a poet and a one-man band
Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home where my thought’s escaping
Home where my music’s playing
Home where my love lies waiting
Silently for me

Slightly melancholy, a yearning to go back somewhere to feel safe, warm, or protected. A return to the familiar for a short time before continuing again on your journey; sanctuary. Some of us have a series or movie that we return to that symbolizes home, for me it’s the original Macross. Yet there is one particular year that also represents a place of peace for me as well and that is 1985. Not that I want to go back to the year 1985, it’s just that there are many productions from the year that I personally love and if I had to do a top 10 listing from the 1980s, I could fill a majority of it with titles from the ole ‘85.

Before diving into titles from 1985, I have to back track with two key experiences I have had for the year. The first being the airing of Robotech, which as a child became the keystone that solidified my love for Japanese animation. Criticize, or praise the show if you wish, but for what it was for my life at that time… it was just, perfect. Also my first panel presentation I gave was about the year 1985. What a coincidence to give a presentation in 2015 and needing a topic when 30 years prior was a storehouse of awesome anime from 1985. Again… perfect. Some titles I knew well, some I got acquainted with for the first time and some I never knew existed became familiar. It was scary, but highly rewarding, as that panel gave me confidence and allowed me to share something I loved and know I was in good company.

1985 was a classic year for the direct to video OVA market. Having only existed for a year and change, 1985 would breed many classics and stand as a testament for quality productions. Titles such as Area 88, Bobby’s Girl, Cosmo Police JustyDream Dimension Hunter Fandora, Dream Hunter RemFight! Iczer-OneFire Tripper, Leda: Fantastic Adventure of Yohko and Megazone 23 all had a place to shine outside the normal confines of cinema and television. One could create original work that may not fit into the two previous categories and be both of high quality and in some cases commercially successful. Yet the format also allowed previously created properties a chance to expand beyond their own previously created spaces. OVAs would feature titles that gave more depth, or alternate stories to Armored Trooper Votoms, Dirty Pair, Fairy Princess Minky Momo, Genesis Climber MospeadaGoShogun, Magical Angel Creamy Mami and Galactic Drifter Vifam. Of course all of these titles were released on analog formats like VHS and LaserDisc. DVD, Blu-Ray and even streaming were still far off sci-fi concepts in the mid 1980s.

And what of the big screen? Anime cinema of 1985 has quite a few options from the entertaining to the challenging to the… ee… shameful, perhaps. Action and adventure abound in the Dagger of Kamui, Vampire Hunter D and Lupin III: Legend of the Gold of Babylon (Pink jacket!). Sanrio released Fairy Florence/A Journey Through Fairyland and Mamoru Oshii challenged us with the haunting Angel’s Egg. Even more challenging was a rare film called The Death Lullaby, or Lullaby to the Big Sleep; a very intense psychological portrait. My favorite film from 1985 is the gentle and melancholy Night on the Galactic Railroad. Outer space, trains, cats and deep philosophy… perfect. And then there was Odin: Photon Space Sailer Starlight… ODIN! Some folks love it, but I often times end up falling asleep though it.

That leaves us with television for our final category. It is a good thing it is 2019 and not 1985 because I would be watching way more TV than I do now. …wait? Besides anime I don’t watch hardly any TV anymore, well except for an occasional weather report. If it were 1985 I would be wearing out a few couches watching the great mecha titles like Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam and Blue Comet SPT Layzner and more average titles like Dancougar and Tobikage. But then there are the shojo titles like Alpen Rose, Little Princess Sara and Pierrot’s Magical Star Magical Emi which will require another couch. And then there was the Dirty Pair, High School Kimengumi (a Shonen Jump title), Musashi no Ken and a variation of GeGeGe no Kitaro. More couches! And finally Touch. All 101 episodes of baseball, drama and romance. That may require two couches to sit in and is the title I recommend the highest for all the TV series. Touch is so, so good! Don’t take my word for it though.

Also of note for 1985 was the founding of Studio Ghibli after the runaway success of 1984’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. The first fruit to bear from the likes of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata came in 1986 with Castle in the Sky. And the rest they say, became history!

So welcome home, to my adopted home of 1985. Hope you stay long and enjoy the variety that made the year special. Of course this is but a mere sampling of the total output from 1985, but it is plenty to get one started. Now it looks like I am going to need some more couches for all these guests, especially if we watch the TV shows! What beverage suits your fancy?

Silently for me
Silently for me…
tacet