Gunbuster: Aim for the Top! (1988 IMDb)

Categorization

OVA series. Uneasy yet deeply fascinating (space-)operatic mixture of pre-Mobile Suit Gundam (1979) mecha anime, shoujo epic, partial parody of a tennis spokon classic Aim for the Ace! which got a sequel in the same year, psychological tragedy (meet Jung Freud, Soviet pilot), titillation, and good storytelling by Anno.

Subject

War orphan with hidden affinity for mecha must fight vast alien menace in space! Some say the aliens are merely the antibodies of the Milky Way, fighting a human infection. Faster-than-light time dilation messes up the lives of those who fight, and it's dangerous work. Only the central heroine remains young.

Commentary

The creators apparently could not agree where to go with this, so they went everywhere and ran out of money. Some parts are evocative, grounded tragic SF and WW2 sublimation, but lots of other stuff is very corny and exaggerated, or ripped straight out of 1988 trends and everyday environments with glaring disregard for the sort of credible evolution so brilliantly executed in Wings of Honneamise: Royal Space Force (1987).

The contrasts can be sharp. The mecha themselves are ugly without realism and so anthropomorphized that they seem to benefit from callisthenics, whilst their designers have simultaneously attempted to illustrate precisely how the pilots operate them, using the laughable cop-out of a couple of sliding levers. These scenes have the appearance of parody, but the writers are just poking a little fun while trying to tell an original story, more and more seriously, in the cracked old mold. Astoundingly, it works! It pulls through on sheer passion.

A character played by Wakamoto Norio has his eyes hidden by glasses, which suddenly produce a glossy reflection when he presumably emotes behind them. Several characters have gag names, the protagonist loves heavy metal and anime, and so on. Eccentric, if not to say erratic, but I'm becoming dangerously sentimental towards it as the years go by.

References here: β€œDon't mention the war!”, Blazing Transfer Student (1991), Love & Pop (1998), Tengen toppa gurren lagann (2007), Cassette Girl (2015).

Anno Hideaki Gainax Japanese production animation mecha movie

Bonus material:

Science Lectures (1988)

Categorization

Super-deformed explanation of premisses. One brief episode per episode of the original series. I believe the first four lectures were created alongside their parent episodes for the original release, whereas the last two are a later addition for some other release (original laserdisc?).

Subject

Noriko and her oneesama, periodically interrupted by the sudden appearance of koochi Kouichiro, explain the fictional science behind the series.

Commentary

No budget, but a very admirable effort. Explicit geeky references amuse.

Gainax Japanese production animation

Bonus material:

Gunbuster Renewal EX (2004)

Viewing

Seen on Youtube.

Categorization

Three very brief films released with the 2004 remaster. They may be older.

Subject

Episode 3: Jung learns more about the Sizzler mecha, from an engineer who points out that there is nothing strange about the mass production model being less powerful than the prototype: it's anime tradition.

Commentary

Not as charming.

Gainax Japanese production animation

Sequel:

Diebuster (2004 IMDb)

Categorization

Another dizzy mix of epic SF, mecha, kaijuu, porn, psychic powers, reluctantly shoujo social structures and most of all, the genre of β€œkonjou”, meaning passionate effort.

Subject

Humanity has had a long history, slowly producing another 83 Buster Machines to battle space monsters who now enclose the entire solar system. Nobody seems to want to venture outside in any event. Humankind is stuck in a rut. One girl sneaks away from home to be a space pilot, but she'll have to work her way up from waitress.

Commentary

Konjou may never have been done better: the audiovisual beauty and intense effort of the early combat scenes inspire tears. As in the original series, some details hint at sincerity, others at parody, and fan service intrudes.

References here: Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone (2007).

Gainax Japanese production Tsurumaki Kazuya animation movie