Reviews of “Daicon III Opening Animation” (1981) and related work

“Daicon III Opening Animation” (1981Moving picture, 5 minutes)

Anno Hideaki (animation director), Yamaga Hiroyuki (director).

An elementary-school girl is contacted by two weirdos who land in a space shuttle of some kind. They want her to deliver a beaker of water to Daicon. She sets off to do this, but runs into a hostile lizard, who wants the water and brings a starship trooper. The battle is on! Various SF monsters and vehicles—including some non-Japanese—try to stop her. Will superhuman strength and a well-stocked backpack be enough?

Theatrical short animation. A short film featuring constant music—apparently taken from various other anime—and one mute line of dialogue, functioning as an emblem of a major convention: the 20th Annual Japan National SF Convention, a.k.a. Daicon III because it was the third one set in Osaka. The first character in both words is 大, meaning “big”, in its two most common pronunciations. Daicon (“con” added for convention) is homonymous with daikon, which means giant white radish, the vegetable the main character encounters.

Produced by several of the co-founders, which is basically how they got together. Campy music, poor animation.

References here: Blue Blazes (2014).

moving picture animation Japanese production fiction

“Daicon IV Opening Animation” (1983Moving picture, 6 minutes)

Anno Hideaki (animation director), Yamaga Hiroyuki (director).

The original story is briefly recapped using new animation and slow synth music. “Prologue” follows as the Daicon ship moves through hyperspace. “Twilight” begins and the girl ages. Rapid fights with her in a bunny suit segue into air surfing and cameos, whereupon the surfing sword splits, dives down and levels cities. Cherry blossom petals take the place of dust on the shock waves. The now barren earth heaves and breaks, showing new water, and life bursts forth again.

Theatrical short animation. Produced more industrially for the same emblematic purpose two conventions later, this time using coherent music (primarily “Twilight” by ELO, and the preceding “Prologue” track from the 1981 album Time, illegally). There is less plot but a stronger effort to really represent SF, particularly to illustrate its escapist mindset and sense of wonder. The film is legendary as an icon of Japanese geek subculture.

Less than six minutes of video brilliantly encapsulate the raw exhilaration of fantastic fiction, whilst providing visual references to a ton of classics, all of them probably older than I am: see Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture (2005) for a longish list. Doraemon cosplaying as Char, a tiny prototype of the “Gainax bounce”, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and hexagonal terrain gaming, it’s all in here.

This short made possible the foundation of Studio Gainax (1984) and the birth of Wings of Honneamise: Royal Space Force (1987). Anno Hideaki directed the “nuclear” blast.

The lead-in music is sometimes attributed to synth legend Kitarō (Takahashi Masanori), referencing “Noah’s Ark”, but the version of that track on the eponymous 1999 album is clearly very different, as is the version on the 1981 album Spring of Youth.

References here: “Don’t mention the war!”, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), Gunbuster: Aim for the Top! (1988), Re: Cutie Honey (2004), “Cassette Girl” (2015).

moving picture sequel animation Japanese production fiction