Phoenix 2772 (1980) IMDb

Categorization

One of the science fiction variations on Tezuka Osamu’s Phoenix (Hi no tori or “Firebird”, not entirely to be confused with the phoenix), a widely varied series of manga he worked on until his death. This particular film is occasionally close to Disney, featuring some music/dance numbers and several goofy sidekicks.

Subject

A boy raised by computers and by a transforming android is sent to capture the legendary Firebird, whose infinite energy might save the Earth in a distant future, where the only other alternative seems to be agitation of the planet’s molten core to produce more geothermal energy.

Commentary

A rather empty showcase, particularly the first 10 minutes.

References here: Casshan: Robot Hunter (1993).

Japanese production animation fiction moving picture

Spin-off:

“Firebird: Karma Chapter” (1986) IMDb

Categorization

Pseudohistorical variation, directed by the great Rintaro.

Subject

Around 750 AD, a woodcarver at a campfire describes his dream of depicting the Firebird. He speaks to a stranger in the wilderness of Yamato-era Japan: A lawless killer who stabs the woodcarver on impulse, never thinking they’ll meet again, changed by life, while the great Buddha of Toudaiji is born.

Commentary

Much of the appeal of Buddhism—in the same light as The Life of Oharu (1952)—with great animation and very good music. Tezuka’s character designs are suitably softened.

References here: Tales from Earthsea (2006).

Japanese production animation fiction moving picture

Spin-off:

“Firebird: Yamato Chapter” (1987) IMDb

Categorization

Pseudohistorical, set a few hundred years before Firebird: Karma Chapter, probably in the 5th or 6th century. Same style as Rintaro’s treatments, but with a different director.

Subject

A young man journeys alone into a strange land, finding the leader he’s been looking for, and love. Still, he carries out his murderous mission. History will remember him as Yamato Takeru, a prince of his people, a people that would go on to oust all others and become synonymous with the concept of “ethnic Japanese”. However, the young man’s fellow princes have no more need of him. He realizes he has thrown away happiness, and resolves to die. The Firebird has other plans.

Commentary

Neat though shallow anti-ethnocentrism.

Japanese production animation fiction moving picture

Spin-off:

“Firebird: Space Chapter” (1987) IMDb

Creators

Kawajiri Yoshiaki (storyboard artist).

Categorization

Another science fiction variation.

Subject

A 500-LY cargo haul through space is interrupted when an asteroid hits a vital part of the ship in 2557. The only crew member who should have been awake is a desiccated corpse who’s typed into a nearby console, “I’ll be killed”.

Commentary

Comparatively heavy-handed morality play, not bothering to properly underpin Makimura’s rage. The character designs clash much more heavily.

Japanese production animation fiction moving picture