Tangent - 1980's Anime I'd Recommend

Bubblegum Crisis

There's about the first five minutes of the first episode of this eight episode cyberpunk OVA classic for you to take a look at. Four female mercenaries in curvaceous high-tech battle armor face off against the runamock androids of the evil Genom corporation. Owes a heck of a debt to Blade Runner -- the female lead you see singing there is named Priss, for crying out loud -- but the series gives its own twists to that dark and grimy future in a way that only late 1980's anime OVAs can. I still think the Boomer androids from this series are some of the best mechanical designs ever. Oh, and remember, you want the eight episode OVA from AnimEigo and not the inferior late 1990's remake from ADV Films, which features rather blah character designs, a very cool blue color palette, and lousy as all heck Boomer android designs. The series is currently available in a four-disc box set that contains all eight episodes plus a collection of music videos. Just watch out for that English dub; it's a stinker.

Aura Battler Dunbine

Here's the opening theme to a fantasy mecha series that ADV Films has tried to sell unsuccessfully for a few years now, Yoshiyuki "God of Gundam" Tomino's 1983 tragic fantasy epic Aura Battler Dunbine, in which a teenage boy from our world is pulled into the fantasy land of Byston Well, where he is enlisted to help in an ambitious plan of conquest. Despite being over two decades old now, Dunbine still has a very realistic feel, dealing as it does with political alliances, leaders with feet of clay, arms races, and the wary snap judgements of the common people. Plus it has sword-wielding bug-robots. Gotta love the sword-wielding bug robots. ADV Films released the fifty-two episode series on twelve discs, and interestingly the dub is directed by Carl Macek, so it has a very classic feel to it.

Metal Armor Dragonar

And here's the opening to the 1987 Gundam-a-like mecha saga Metal Armor Dragonar, a highly polished series that Sunrise tried to set up as the "next big thing" that year with Gundam's storyline wrapped up with a bow in the wake of Char's Counterattack. It's got extremely solid mechanical designs, likable and kind of infectously goofy heroes, and some pretty good drama. It's not available here in the States (it was never very popular in Japan), but you can download fansubs of the first five episodes (of 48) here and, well, there is a complete Region 0 HK DVD set floating around out there, but A) it's unlicensed and illegal, and B) it's actually kind of hard to come by at this point, too. I especially love that opening sequence, directed by Masami Obari before he became obsessed with boobs. Excellent work.


  • I liked Bubblegum Crisis 2090. Let people decide for themselves what is good or not. It is not quite as good as the original, but on its own is better then some other anime out there.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 08 March, 2006 19:36  

  • I got to say, I did like Bubblegum Crisis 2040 more than the original.

    By Anonymous Delum, at 08 March, 2006 21:47  

  • When someone makes a recommendation, that's an opinion, and it is my opinion that 2032 kicks 2040's ass in all the ways that matter -- at least, all the ways that matter to me, which include animation quality, general atmosphere and setting, mechanical design, character design, direction, and in most cases the character dynamics. I prefer the team of friendly professional Knight Sabers from the original series to the distant, angsting Knight Sabers of 2040, even if I do have to admit that Linna and Nene are much better characters in 2040. (Aside from being "the one whose friendly acquaintance dies," Linna in 2032 is practically a non-entity.)

    Mind you, there something to be said for the way that 2040 managed to complete its storyline in a tidy and at least sort of coherent fashion; classic Crisis lets it dangle in favor of a strange, kind of goofy eighth and final episode before a major switch in production staff resulted in the rushed and inferior three episode wrap-up OVA Bubblegum Crash. But I'm not recommending original Crisis for the overall storyline. I'm recommending it for the music, the action, and the overall feel of the work, which I would have to say blow the super-streamlined and too tidy look and feel of 2040 -- which borrowed a little too liberally from Evangelion, if you ask me -- clear out of the water.

    Plus, Kenichi Sonoda's girls are just a hell of a lot hotter than those wan, waiflike AIC house style Knight Sabers -- practically interchangable with the girls from Tenchi Muyo, El Hazard, and the like -- that 2040 gives us. God I wish he'd get more work, but apparently his style is out of fashion. Apparently the kids these days dig anime characters that look like Hisashi Hirai's malformed fish people, which I'll honestly never understand ... *sigh*

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 09 March, 2006 01:44  

  • I still sometimes wonder what would have happened if Carl Macek's (arguably frightening) idea of bringing Gundam, L-Gaim, and Ideon (or was Gundam the only one considered?) over to the US as a part of Robotech or as an independent combined series had come to fruition?

    I know it would hurt the Gundam that I like so much, but it still would have been interesting to see.

    By Anonymous Clollin, at 09 March, 2006 17:51  

  • The only mecha shows I ever heard rumors of Macek wanting are Aura Battler Dunbine and Heavy Metal L-Gaim under the banner title "Aura Battlers." While Tom Bateman told me back in '04 that Harmony Gold never got into talks with Sunrise back in the day (meaning there were no concrete plans to bring over Gundam, Ideon, etc.) given that Macek directed ADV's English dub of Dunbine, I don't think it's farfetched to imagine that Macek wanted Harmony Gold to license some more of the "Golden Age" mecha anime, even if not as part of Robotech. (Megazone 23 was being added out of necessity; otherwise, I think Macek was much more interested in expanding Robotech as its own thing rather than as a banner title for showcasing more mecha anime.)

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 10 March, 2006 12:29  

Post a Comment

<< Home