#213 : Ladius

A great treasure awaits you! Imagine this, a power source from an ancient civilization that can also act like an elixir which can grant life, the Rido. A young nomadic trio will be our guides and along the way they end up meeting new friends and familiar foes. Sounds exciting right, but there is a catch… this presentation is technically a mecha anime as well… only the last 10–15 minutes though. Oh you like giant robots, well then I have an OVA for you… meet Makyou Gaiden Le Deus, often translated as just Ladius. Or should it just be Le Deus? … to good friends Ladius can be called The Deuce and yes, I made that up!

Ladius_1Finding opening credit music from my favorite anime is one music category I sometimes like to listen to. Now and then I come across a track that sounds really rockin’ yet it does not ring a bell of familiarity. This was my introduction to Ladius and as I really, really loved the song I had to track down the original video. After watching I would scratch my head, HEY!, how come we never saw a release for this here in the West? I believe the UK had a subtitled VHS release way back when but nothing of the such ever happened over in my neck of the woods. This would have been a great seller, I mean I would have bought it, as it had many of the tropes that we all like in adventure and mecha titles. Reminds me of “How many licks does it take to get to the the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? … The world may never know”. If I was in charge it would have been different, but I was not and I still am not in that position. Thank you fansubbers for all you do!

Ladius_2This red disc, a beautiful lens, one of the Eyes of Zalem is much like a key that opens one of the fabled lost treasure troves of the Rido that is located in the ruins of the Quall civilization at Zalem. Viewing the night sky through this lens also is a treat as well and it is this very act where we meet Riot and his two lady cohorts, Spica and Seneca. This trio on the go are on a mission to discover this refuge of the Rido, but first they must make a quick stop at a little town known as Zigoa to find another Eye of Zalem and in the process meet another key component to our quest. Yuta, a young lady who runs a shop in Zigoa is quite bored from the mundane is soon visited by Riot and crew. Yuta holds this other Eye of Zalem which is also wanted by a gang of theives. Damage ensues and guess who gets the bill, a coy grinning Riot.

Ladius_3Mixing genres makes Ladius a fun OVA. Much like a treasure hunting adventure in the style of a Lupin III caper, we get instead a fantasy environment found in the more quest like and imaginative Birth and Dragon Ball with the Ladius plot for discovering the Rido. Yet finding lost artifacts is only part of the equation. We do have mecha elements as well, which reminds me a little of Dangaioh in terms of fun and action packed robot sparring. Plus our main man Riot has some rockin’ awesome hair and a jumpsuit which is so de rigueur for 1980s heroic fashion. Yet why do I feel this is like a 90s anime when this was made in 1987? Maybe because Ladius can get comedic at times and comedy with questing makes me think of Slayers? All in all, Ladius may not be the most unique combination of elements, but in terms of mecha presentations it stands out as a little different… and in a good way.

Ladius_4Broken record time… time to add yet another oddball OVA release to the shelf of awesome 80s anime. I swear I keep finding these one off releases and they never disappoint in any fashion. I do question as to why only one solitary release? Ladius only reveals one chapter in the longer quest of Riot and the girls, yet there is so much more to discover and to tell. Again I am thankful for what we do have because what we do have is a great example of 80s OVA excellence. My only warning is beware the offering of a jigu nut, it may not agree with you!

#208 : Super Dimension Century Orguss

The opening theme says it all, “Where are you going, when are you coming home?” … Atomic, biological and chemical weapons are all heavy duty in terms of destructive power… but this pales in comparison to dimensional weaponry. For a young and carefree pilot who ends up completing the arming sequence for a space time oscillation bomb, the consequences of dimensional weaponry would alter not only his life, but affect the entire structure of the Earth itself. Anything was up for grabs for this stranger in a strange land, yet how much of a sacrifice must he yield himself towards in order to return the world to equilibrium. It all began in the future of 2062, but we remember this tale from a mecha anime from 1983… Super Dimension Century Orguss.

Orguss_1Following up the success of 1982’s Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Big West advertising and Studio Nue would strike out again the following year with Orguss. Retaining much of the staff from the previous year including director Noburo Ishiguro, character designer Haruhiko Mikimoto and music composer Kentaro Haneda to name a few, Orguss would despite similarities adapt to change. Shoji Kawamori did not stay and the services of Tatsunoko, who did the heavy lifting of animating Macross, would be supplanted by Tokyo Movie Shinsha. Thus we have a slightly different product. As a Macross fan I am often jealous of Orguss as TMS in general always has a certain patina that cries quality in terms of line work and color palette. Orguss is for that time (and even now!) an attractive looking show, but what about the bigger issue? What of the story and the characters?

Orguss_2Speaking of characters, let’s start with our protagonist Kei Katsuragi. Fighter pilot, happy go lucky and the biggest ladies man I have ever seen, Kei is a complete 180 from Macross’ Hikaru Ichijo. He eyes all those who are cute to his ocular perceptions, but in the end he is ever faithful to the ones he is truly in love with. The series begins with him in an intimate moment with his girlfriend at the time, quite bold, which is interrupted by her father barging in with a shotgun. Not many times I have seen that to open a piloted robot show. And like Lupin III, he escaped unscathed to be picked up by his best friend and fellow pilot Olson (or is it Orson?). Together they are part of a mission to use the previously mentioned space time oscillation bomb in order to get rid of a space elevator. The mission goes awry, but Kei feels it is only right that the mission

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 100Arriving in a parallel alternative Earth, which at the time he does not know, Kei is thrust 20 years into the future into a world born of his consequences. Here he meets friendly nomadic traders known as the Emaan, who oddly have tentacle like antennae coming out of the back of their heads, the aggressive Chiram, a militaristic society and Jabbi (I’ll let you figure out who he is!). All parties involved have interest in capturing, or obtaining Kei… why? Because he is the chosen one, or in more precise language the singularity (or, differentiated idioblast… what did you call me?) This makes him quite valuable on the market. So what are the issues that the Earth is facing in Orguss? First it is suffering from excessive heating, global warming to the extreme. And second, the mixing of races and landscapes on Earth are appearing from different dimensions due to the explosion of the previously mentioned space time oscillation bomb. Space and time are unstable and guess who is the one who can right these events? A little hint, he’s a womanizer fighter jock who happens to be named Kei! Now I know that name from somewhere? (sarcasm)

Orguss_4Oh Kei, look what you have done! Orguss is an interesting show in that we have a character that has to come to terms with fixing past issues that resonate with the present. Call it karma, fate, or what have you, Orguss is a show that strikes a chord as a mech show for a more mature audience looking for an alternative to the usual space opera of the time. Like Macross, we again have transforming mechs and a heavy romantic subplot which makes Orguss ever more enjoyable. Just be ready for the final climactic moment, as the scene appears to be very open ended, but from my eye brought in an element of the tragic, which really left me surprised… and a little teary eyed.

#206 : The Transformers: Super-God Masterforce

More classic tales of the original 1980s G1 The Transformers from the vaults of Japan!; hip hip hooray! I first want to give the utmost thanks to Japan for not giving up on The Transformers in the late 1980s. In America the tastes were changing, how fickle, and I am sure many marketing adults wanted to pump different toylines into the market, but hey… don’t mess with The Transformers, or fans of the original storyline. Japan began a second original G1 series in 1988 after the previous year’s The Headmasters and while it has The Transformers name, in terms of plot, it really jumped the shark at times. Yet The Transformers: Super-God Masterforce proved to be a strong successor.

TF_SGM_1Often when we think of The Transformers, we expect a mecha show about sentient robots. For Super-God Masterforce we insert a major twist. Humans have played a major role in The Transformers from the beginning. Spike and Sparkplug and then Carly and Daniel were key side characters from the original American version. The concept of combining the human with the machine was also explored in episodes like Autobot Spike and Almost Human. For the American fourth season, The Rebirth trilogy, the Headmasters and Targetmasters were humans and humanoids in robotic suits that allowed them to become the heads, or weapons for their corresponding Autobot and Deception machines. Japan meanwhile went with a differing mythology for The Headmasters as human sized Cybertrons (Autobots) and Destrons (Decepticons) would use larger bodies (transtectors) in an attempt to survive in their particular surrounding.

TF_SGM_2Now we move onto Super-God Masterforce where the human element of being part of the machine would take full fruit in Japan. We begin with the Pretenders who were life sized real honest to goodness Transformers, that have an alternate form of either a human (Cybertron), or demon (Destron). Maybe they used the same shrinking technology that Soundwave and Blaster had, or maybe they are cousins of Ultraman? Talk about ‘Robots in Disguise’… literally. Then we have the Headmaster Juniors which take two sets of three kids and give them fancy suits which become the heads of transactors via magic bracelets. Sounds a little like henshin meets the American Rebirth version of the Headmasters characters. And then you have Godmasters, or Powermasters in the west, who via magic bracelets gain fancy suits to turn into the engine’s of transtectors. Humans piloting robots… you know if this show was not licensed as The Transformers, this could have been like many other run of the mill mecha shows?

TF_SGM_3While Super-God Masterforce is a direct followup to the previous shows, there are some odd plot holes. First, there hardly is a mention of the back history of The Transformers including: the exodus from the planet Cybertron, or the wars from the American G1 shows. The Headmasters is occasionally referenced with the concept of Cybertrons fighting in space and a short communication from Chromodome. Then we get introduced to the new leader of the Cybertrons, Ginrai, who looks an awful lot like Optimus Prime. Didn’t he die again in The Headmasters? So… how did a red semi truck that transforms into the most iconic robot of the entire franchise end up again on Earth to be found by a young truck driver? I have no idea, but we have to roll with it I suppose. While Super-God Masterforce may make you wonder what happened to all the back story I may conclude that maybe this is an alternative universe? One truth to Super-God Masterforce is that it never takes itself seriously, so maybe I shouldn’t with my expectations for this show.

TF_SGM_4Feeling my inner child/longtime fan resonate with this show could not be denied. I too could finally become one of The Transformers, even though I am like you, a human being. While Super-God Masterforce really goes out on a limb in certain categories to what we consider the usual framework of The Transformers universe it certainly worked. And in the end all of the Transformers would revert to sentient robots. My only wish is that I would like to have a pair of those magical bracelets for myself. Then I could yell out, “MASTA-FORCE!” and become like many of my heroes. But as a substitute I and you have this show, which will suffice for now… until I move onto the third series… The Transformers: Victory.