Saturday, September 8, 2012

Anime talk: Space Runaway Ideon.

I am an Otaku, an anime fan. I was anime fan before it became cool to be one. Not that much of big confession, or even that surprising if you've been reading this blog for awhile and know how nerdy I can be. Now why am I bring this up? Well I'm about to talk about an anime series that is both really, really good and is one that I'm pretty sure that not many of you have ever heard of:  Space Runaway Ideon.

Yeah, yeah, dumb title is dumb title, but this series is anything but. Here's the gist of the plot, and this will probably contain some spoilers, but I will be as vague as I can. Ideon takes place far in the future where mankind has finally left Earth and colonized other planets. On the planet Solo in the Andromeda Galaxy, archaeologists uncover an alien spaceship (later dubbed the "Solo Ship") and three massive armored trucks. Just as the colonist go about the task of restoring the ship and the trucks, a humanoid alien civilization called the Buff Clan (yeah, I laughed at first too), arrive at Solo while investigating the legend of the 'Id', an energy  source that is said to be infinite. When they discover that Solo is suddenly inhabited Karala, the daughter of the Buff Clan's supreme military commander, goes down the planet to get a closer look at the humans. The man in charge of the investigation sends a squad of planes to get her back and...well long story short: the planes can't find her, they think she and her servant were captured and they opened fire on the humans. Our central characters, Cosmo Yuki the white teenage boy with a silly looking red Afro, the blond hair bitchy girl Kasha and  the not quite comedy relief kid Deck and the head of planet Solo's military forces Jordan Bes, get on board the armored trucks and discover that these trucks combine into a giant mecha called, the "Ideon" (see picture on the left). The colony is destroyed and the survivors (including Karala and her servant) take refuge on board the restored Solo Ship, which they then take off in and escape with the Buff Clan in hot pursuit. By now some of you are asking "hey, Mr. Summer Sleeper, is this 'Id' energy source the Buff Clan are looking for connected to the Ideon and the Solo Ship?" 

To which I would respond: "Uh....duh." As the series progresses we do learn what the "Id" actually is. And here are the spoilers I mentioned earlier. As it turns out, the Id is actually the power source of both the Ideon and the Solo Ship: not only that, its also alive. Yes, alive. It has a living consciousness and is comprised of millions upon millions of other consciousness that get added to it as the sentient life around it dies. Its pretty much the same thing as 'The Overmind" from Arthur C. Clarke's novel 'Childhood's End'  and the idea of "Human Instrumentality" from Neon Genesis Evangelion.  Anyway, put simply, the Id is kind of a bastard. Its manipulating both the Buff Clan and the Humans to fight each other because it wants to see if intelligent life is worthy of surviving. And if its not, it intends to do something about it. What exactly? Come on people, you should be able to guess that by now.         

Story wise, Ideon deals with themes such as the futility and stupidity of war, racism, xenophobia and the dangers thereof, death and rebirth, and of course the dangers of technology. Its was also one of the first examples of a "Hybrid giant mecha anime," a genre that combines elements of both "Real Robot anime"  (in where giant mecha is portrayed in a realistic way, such as Gundam)  and Super Robot anime  (anime in where the giant robots are basically super heroes such as Mazinger Z) in 1980 this was still pretty much a new thing and neat idea. Here is an example of what I am getting at here: The Ideon and the Ideon and the Solo Ship are basically alive (thanks to the Id) and the Ideon basically  has super powers (which I'm getting too). But its not a super hero, its a weapon of mass destruction, it can't work without people (or living things in general) inside of it. And while the Buff Clan are aliens, all they are really trying  to do is protect themselves from said weapon. This is what I like, there is a lot of grey area here and neither the Buff Clan nor the humans are portrayed as evil, they're just ordinary people thrusted into  circumstances beyond their control. And the poor residence of the Solo Ship are caught in the middle, turned away from their own kind because of the war they unintentionally brought on humanity and hated by the Buff Clan for their primary source of defense, they become essentially runaways (hence the title). And despite all of  that, Karala and Bes manage to fall in love with each other and make child together. But that doesn't really help at all. 

Now let me talk about the Ideon itself for a second. I don't even need to comment. Just look at this thing:

Isn't that not dumbest looking giant robot you've ever seen? It looks like an oversized Gundam with rabbit ears. Now would you believe that this is the deadliest giant mech ever devised by humans? How is that possible? Well remember those Super Powers I mentioned earlier? Now we're gonna talk about them. However, "powers" is a bad choice of words, because I'm really talking about weapons. Ya see, as the story progresses and the Ideon becomes more powerful and uncontrollable, 3 weapons are discovered that are considered by fans and critics alike to be some of the powerful ever in any anime. Up until this point, the Ideon's weapons are basic, just punches and kicks and a ridiculous amount of missiles located on the top of its shoulders, arms, legs and thighs. When it wanted, it could fire all these missiles at once and decimate a wide area. But that's not one of the weapons I'm talking about. 
The first is the Black hole cannon, which is basically a mini-black hole in the Ideon's stomach (I don't know how that's supposed to work either).  The Ideon sword, twin beams of energy that are basicly oversized light sabers (the video on the left shows them slicing a planet in half). And finally, the most destructive of all: The Ideon Gun, which is so impossibly powerful that anything that even comes close to its line of fire (ships, mechs, people, planets, comets, whatever), is instantly turned into star dust. Even if the target is in hyper space.

Anyway, Ideon first premiered on Japanese TV in 1980, and was the brain child of Mobile Suit Gundam creator, Yoshiyuki Tomino. Tomino and his team originally planed to have Ideon to run for a total of 43 episodes but  the show was canceled in 1981 after just 39 episodes becuase of low ratings. The fan's were, understandably, not happy about this, and neither was Tomino. So in 1982 he got his team back together and got the green light from Sunrise Studios to make two movies based on Ideon, titled "A Contact" and "Be Invoked." both titles were released on the same day as a double feature.  A Contact was a compilation film that retells the story of the first 32 episodes of the show with some new seances, retouched animation and re-imaging of was kind of a mess. Be Invoked on the other hand, retold the events of the last episode and also warped up the series proper, and is arguably one of the best things that Tomino ever made. Sadly, Ideon was never considered for release in North America back in the 80's and I have no idea wh---oh wait:

That's why. And Yes, all the clips in that montage are real, I did not alter them to mess with you. Yes, that little girl's head was blow clean off by gun fire, yes that guy was disembodied by cannon fire, yes you just saw a four month pregnant Karala get shot 3 times in the face, yes you just saw the Ideon blow up and destroy the universe (literally). This is seriously one of the most violent anime's I've ever seen, far more violent than what North American censors at the time would allow. While its not gory, and the first half of the show isn't anymore violent than the average comic book. When the second half begins though, it just keeps gets darker and darker that, by the time you finally get to Be Invoked, this show has becomes a full on blood bath. I must say, Ideon had some serious balls.

Anyway, like I said, Ideon has never been officially released outside of Japan, and nor is it ever likely to be. Because, lets be honest here, despite the timelessness of its message, Ideon has NOT aged gracefully. Most of the character names are unintentionally hilarious (I mean, "Cosmo Yuki"...really), the animation looks its age and the mech design, as I've implied before, is kinda cheesy. But if you can look past all that, should you watch it? Hell yes. Even though its never had an official release, it has been unofficially subtitled by fans and released online for download and the TV series and both the movies has been uploaded to Youtube. If you want to import it legally on DVD, well that's a problem, to degree you....kinda can't anymore. Ideon has never been that popular in Japan, and its home video releases go out of print very quickly. I do know that both the movies at least have been released to Blu-ray though, so maybe the show has too.

In anycase, if you have a chance to watch it. Then I say do it.
and I'm out.                                        


No comments:

Post a Comment