Complete UK Anime Reviews 1992-1994 (UK-PAL video format)

By Geoff Cowie
Comprehensive A-Z listing and reviews of Japanese animation commercially released in
Britain. An impartial guide for the more discerning viewer.
Over 120 videos
The essential guide - don't buy any anime without it!
Edition 1.1
Author's Note:
This publication includes all anime released in the UK between the landmark release of
AKIRA and the end of 1994. Most of the reviews appeared in a different form in the
Anime = Japanese animation
Manga = (1) Japanese comic, (2) part of a trademark used by Manga Entertainment Ltd. for
their "Manga Video" animated videos.

Length of review is at the whim of the writer; some listings commence with general remarks
on a series. Regrettably this edition is not illustrated; I wrote all the text but images
belong to the Japanese copyright holders and their licensees.
Most UK releases are dubbed into English. A minority are subtitled, and even fewer are
available in both formats. Controversy continues on whether anime should be treated as
popular commercial material and dubbed for ease of viewing; or as a cultural artefact whose
nuances should be preserved by subtitling. The titles actually released are biased towards the popular.
Please note that this document is in no sense a listing of the best of Japanese animation;
although it includes some fine material, it is no more than a list of the videos that some
British companies thought they could license and sell at a profit.
PRICE: Prices vary between retailers. British videotapes are among the cheapest in the
world. Few full- length anime tapes cost more than 12.99 (R.R.P). Some distributors price
according to length, with many tapes under 50 mins costing less than 10, and half hour tapes costing from 5.99.
Earlier releases may be available at reduced cost from distributors' promotional clubs etc.
Copyright G. Cowie 1995.
Edition 1.1, Nov. 1995
No part of this publication may be stored or copied without the permission of the author.
The author may be contacted at
Enquiries from commercial and other publishers are welcomed.
Alphabetical Index of Contents:
GREY-Digital Target
Doji 3)
RUMIC WORLD-see sep. entries.
3x3 EYES-Part One
3x3 EYES-Part Two
UROTSUKI DOJI-Legend of the Overfiend
UROTSUKI DOJI II - Legend of the Demon Womb
URUSEI YATSURA- Movie 1 - Remember My Love

ADVENTURE DUO #1,(Kiseki), 52 mins, cert 18, 9.99
Also known as Adventure Kid, this has been compared
with the Urotsuki Doji series. At any rate, several
minutes were cut out by the British censors, and having
read a synopsis of the cut material I can report that the
deletions seemed very unpleasant and I'm not sorry I
didn't have to view them. It has to do with a Second
World War computer and some nastiness stored on it.
Limited animation and designs, dullish story; for anime
sex & violence fans only.
AMBASSADOR MAGMA 1,2,3 12.99 (Kiseki), 90
mins, cert 15
AMBASSADOR MAGMA 4,5 (Kiseki), 55 mins, cert
15, 10.99
AMBASSADOR MAGMA 6,7 (Kiseki), 55 mins, cert
15, 10.99
AMBASSADOR MAGMA 8,9 (Kiseki), 55 mins, cert
15, 10.99
55 mins, cert 15, 10.99
The self-consciously 'retro' series styled after manga and
anime pioneer Osamu Tezuka's original strip. It's a Good
vs Evil superhero/supervillain setup and should appeal to
the young, or those who hanker for the days when
animation meant cardboard stuff for kids. Personally I
prefer the subtlety and complexities of more recent
Japanese animation.
APPLESEED (Manga Video), 68 mins, cert 15, 11.99
UK video release of well-known anime, adapted from
equally well-known manga series available in English and
set, in the aftermath of a destructive world war, in the
idealised city of Olympus. There are tensions between
survivors and the new artificial humans (Bioroids), and
between factions of the city government. The two main
characters, Deunan and her cyborg partner Briareos,
track down the perpetrators of a terrorist outrage. Fairly
sophisticated stuff with some interesting characters,
though there are some unconvincing plot elements. One
of my favourite pieces of anime, though the American-
style dubbing doesn't improve it and there are some
pointless changes to character and other names.

AKIRA, dir. Katsuhiro OTOMO,(Manga Video),
124min, cert 15, 12.99
Video),49min, cert 15, 7.99
AKIRA DOUBLE PACK (Manga Video) 124+49m, cert
15, subtitled
AKIRA is available in dubbed or subtitled form. A
"production report" is included with the subtitled
"Collector's Edition" and can also be bought separately.
AKIRA, originally a graphic series (Manga), by Otomo,
is now one of the best known pieces of modern Japanese
animated film (Anime). The story is set in 2019, in a
Tokyo rebuilt after destruction in World War III. The
city is in a state of social crisis, with unemployment,
terrorism and neo-religions widespread. Young Kaneda
and his friends find an outlet by racing hi- tech
motorcycles and fighting with a rival biker gang, the
Clowns. One of Kaneda's friends, Tetsuo, falls from his
bike and is taken to a secret Army laboratory where he
develops psychic powers. Tetsuo's growing powers lead
to ever more bizarre and destructive events.
The film contains a number of exciting action
sequences, notably the motorcycle chases, striking
nocturnal scenes, and astonishing science-fantasy
sequences. A largish cast of characters, with personalities
we can care about, are developed in some depth. The
flashbacks to childhood are particularly fine. Despite the
presence of some female characters, this remains a male-
oriented film, cool,hi-tech and violent.
The script is adapted from a much longer manga series,
and, with its loosely tied incidents and cryptic ending,
remains the main weakness in the film. Visually, though,
AKIRA is an animation showpiece: all the technical
devices of conventional cinema as well as animation are
employed in the film; pans, zooms, travelling shots, even
a 180deg. rapid pan shot, giving an effect like an ani-
mated version of live action cinema. Like much anime,
this is a film that repays repeated viewing. The
'Production Report' gives an insight into the huge effort
that went into making AKIRA. For instance, the
Japanese dialogue was recorded first and the animation
made to fit it; in the dubbed version all this is thrown
The 35mm cinema version shows the animation to best
advantage. The two video versions are not identical, as
the widescreen version displays more of the original
image. Japan buffs will of course prefer the authentic
Japanese dialogue. It's also evident that the two video
versions do not use the same English script.
Unfortunately the subtitles are done in plain white and
rather stupidly placed on the picture instead of in the
handy black strip underneath. Consequently the subtitling
is very hard to read in places. Even fan subtitlers could
have done better. Also, some of the first dubbed copies
were blurred or otherwise defective.
The dramatic action sequences, lavish animation and
fine music soundtrack make AKIRA an anime classic,
and also, since it has characters whom Western young
males will readily identify with, it forms a relatively
accessible introduction to Japanese animation.
BATTLE ANGEL ATILA (Manga Video), 55 mins, cert
15, 10.99
English versions of GUNNM - Rusty Angel & GUNNM
- Tears Sign. Superbly realised cyberpunk SF, set in a
bleak future where cyborgs and bounty hunters battle in a
trash-heap and industrial wasteland, under the shadow of
the floating nirvana- city of Zalem. Atila, brought back to
life by Ido, a brilliant cyber-doctor, has no memories of
her past, but soon reveals that she is programmed with
extraordinary combat powers. She also has a human
heart. The vividly realised settings and designs, the black
humour of the cyborg scenes, the excitement of the
battles, the deep rumbling under the looming aerial city,
and the perceptive depiction of human emotions combine
to make this a great video. Between the NTSC episodes
[see BATTLE ANGEL (A.D.Vision),$34.95, NTSC,
subtitled, 60 mins.] is the sombre song "An Insignificant
Girl" which is missing in the PAL version, and which
perfectly sets the mood for the human tragedy that is to
follow. A masterpiece.
The PAL mass-market version unfortunately is seriously
flawed by dubbing with voices that introduce a levity
unsuited to the dark theme of the video. It also uses a
different and freer translation compared to the NTSC,
which also retains the heroine's original name, Gally. The
PAL version's sound effects are nevertheless impressive
on a multispeaker stereo system.
BLACK MAGIC MARIO M-66 (Kiseki), 45m, cert 15,
(subtitled 12.99)
Dubbed and subtitled versions of this underground fan
classic are available from Kiseki. A tautly plotted SF
thriller about a runaway military robot, made all the more
effective by the innocuous mannequin-like appearance of
the human-sized robot. Recommended.
BUBBLEGUM CRISIS parts 1 to 8, (Anime
Projects/AnimEigo), cert PG, lengths 30/50 mins, 12.99
BUBBLEGUM CRISIS Music Video 1 cert 15, 30m,
BUBBLEGUM CRISIS Music Video 2 cert 15, 30m,
(Anime Projects/AnimEigo), all subtitled.
The popular science fantasy/cyberpunk series, reissued in
attractive dark red sleeves and with a new lower price.
For those new to anime; this is set in a future Tokyo and
features the battles of the high-tech battlesuited all-
female KNIGHT SABRE vigilantes against the robots of
the equally high tech GENOM corporation. Some quite
good rock music features prominently in the series. Very
popular with teenage and adult fans alike; this was one of
the tapes rated low enough (PG in this case) to be lent to
my 14 year old nephew, Sam, who says: I think this video
was extremely good and my friends who saw it agreed
with me."
BUBBLEGUM CRISIS is, judging by the number of
column feet devoted to it in fan publications, one of the
most popular anime series. It is set in a violent future
Japan, where Tokyo is dominated by a powerful
industrial corporation, GENOM, which builds 'Boomers',
industrial androids and robots. Genom's not always legal
activities are opposed by the police, and by a group of
all- female vigilantes, the KNIGHT SABERS, well
equipped with powered hard suits and other hi-tech
devices. This prominence given to powerful female
characters is quite usual in anime. One strength of this
series is the pains taken to depict the Knight Sabers as
real women with real daytime jobs; one, Priss, is a singer,
another, Nene, a policewoman, another an aerobics
teacher. The spectacular backgrounds (particularly in
ep.1) are another. I'm less keen on the battle scenes,
where credibility is strained by motorcycles transforming
into robots, and androids transforming into indestructible
blue battle robots twice the size. The climax of Ep.1
redeems itself somewhat by excesses of quite Dali-esque
proportions. There's a lot of belting rock music in this
series, some performed by Oomori Kinuko, the voice
artist for 'Priss'. Ep.1 has a live action rock video
appended, repeating the featured track 'Hurricane' and
allowing us to see what Oomori Kinuko looks like.
Ep.1 is probably the best value for money ; Ep.2 being
much shorter and rather anticlimactic by comparison.
These tapes should be identical to the previous AnimEigo
NTSC releases and are clearly aimed at the British (or
possibly European) market. If you're hooked on this
stuff, there are 8 'Crisis' episodes, 3 'Crash' episodes, and
three episodes of the associated 'A.D. Police', plus
various music videos, trailers, CD's and other merch-
CAT GIRL NUKU-NUKU (Crusader Video), 90min,
cert PG, 12.99
Crusader are no longer in business so supplies are limit-
Very funny 3 part SF comedy in which an inventor
estranged from his wife makes a cute girl android with a
cat's brain to look after his small son. The wife wants her
boy back and mayhem ensues. Recommended.
CLASH OF THE BIONOIDS (Kiseki), 116m, cert PG,
the movie spin-off from the original MACROSS Japanese
TV series. There are several versions of the movie and
this is the shorter one adapted for the American market.
Visually it seems to differ little from the shorter (117m)
Japanese edition, except for the titles and the fact that in
the Japanese edition the aliens' dialogue is subtitled - in
Japanese. An extended, 2 1/4hr version also exists and
Kiseki may use this as the basis of a subtitled release of
Feb.1995. So if you don't like dubbing you should wait
for that.
This is rather different from most anime that has been
released in the UK so far! Two hours of SF adventure
intertwined with a triangle love story, played straight (i.e.
no comedy) and with a sex & violence rating low enough
to earn it a cert. PG, and lavishly animated. And all the
characters are at least young adults.
The story starts at the point where the giant battleship
MACROSS is fighting near Saturn and has been out of
touch with Earth for some time.
During an attack, impetuous space pilot Hikaru
disobeys the orders of his superior, Lieutenant Misa
Hayase and consequently is able to rescue singer Lynn
During the subsequent action, Hikaru becomes
emotionally involved with two quite different women, the
fun-loving singer and the severe officer Misa Hayase.
And the bionoids? The aliens comprise not one but two
forces, the Zentradi and the Meltrandi, both bio-
engineered and at war with each other as well as with
Earth. The plot has much to do with alien culture; there
are scenes in which the Zentradi puzzle over Terran
artefacts or are bewildered by song broadcasts, but it
would be unfair to give too much away. There are a
number of points which would presumably have been
familiar to Japanese viewers (or readers of the fan script
translation) but are unclear in BIONOIDS: One of the
female Meltrandi attackers, Miria 639, on the Zentradi
ship reappears in later scenes with the Macross fighter
pilot Max. In the final battle a split develops between
compromise and perpetual war factions in the Zentradi; a
key sequence is an attack on the flagship Boldoza which
happens to be an intelligent organic warship.
The dubbing, which probably is that done by the
Japanese using American voice actors, is acceptable, with
all the major persona sounding in character. It preserves
the Japanese versions of the character names, and the
prominently featured Japanese songs (not subtitled). It's a
fairly exciting, if not over-plotted story and has, in pilot
Hikaru, Misa Hayase and singer Lynn Minmay, three
interesting and quite believable principal characters. The
animation, intended to be seen on a big screen, looks a
bit cramped and lacking in crispness on video but there is
some excellent art in the 'city' sequence 1hr 3mins
onwards. Indeed, this section, once seen on a big screen,
is alone enough to sell the video.
This is distinctly better and more serious than
MACROSS II and goes a long way to explaining why the
original MACROSS was so popular in Japan. Verdict:
worth a look, but if you want a more literal, possibly
expanded and less dumbed-down version, wait for the
subtitled edition (and write to Kiseki encouraging them
to issue it).
CRYING FREEMAN Chapter 1 (Manga Video), 50
mins, cert 18, 8.99
Adapted from the manga about a man who is forced into
becoming an assassin for a tong gang. The hero,
Freeman, sheds tears every time he is compelled to kill.
In this sombre opener, he becomes involved with a lonely
woman, the artist Emu Hino, whom he is instructed to
execute because she was witness to a gangland murder.
The video is typically Japanese in its juxtaposition of
beauty, tenderness and extreme violence. I found this a
rather uneven work; some scenes, particularly those with
Emu Hino, are remarkably sophisticated, while others
lapse into comic-book crudeness. And it is extremely
bloody, with a body-count in double figures.
FREEMAN may surprise those who have only seen the
early Manga Video releases. It has much to commend it;
it's exciting, attractively animated and the British-dubbed
dialogue is well cast and well acted. In the absence of any
subtitled editions this well-produced and modestly priced
edition seems the one to collect.
CRYING FREEMAN Chapter 2 (Manga Video) 51
mins, cert 18, 8.99
The second volume of the 'manly fantasy adventure' is
disappointing; the hero's promotion seems a bit implausi-
ble and the fat Bayasan, who was apparently a more
sympathetic character in the graphic book version, comes
over as a childish nutter. There is a silly James Bond-ish
plot and little else to interest the more discerning viewer,
except that the American villainess is rather good

CRYING FREEMAN Chapter 3 (Manga Video), 50
mins, Cert 18, 8.99
Again, fairly brainless stuff, but quite a lot of fun, with
attractive visuals, violent action, tasteful artistic
nudity and more violent action. In this one Freeman takes
on an African guerrilla organisation while Emu's loyalty
and love are tested.
CRYING FREEMAN Chapter 4 (Manga Video), 50
mins, cert 18, 8.99 Better than the two previous
chapters; this is a well-paced kidnap thriller with plenty
of incident and some new characters. The protagonists
have a tendency to remove all their clothes revealing
large animal tattoos. Violent, only a little silly and quite
fun. Caution - explicit sex.
CYBER CITY OEDO 808 #1 (Manga Video), 42mins,
cert 15, 9.99
Part 1 of a three-part "cyberpunk" series, set in a high-
tech future, about three convicts, Sen Goku, Benten and
Gogul, who have special skills and are pressed into
service as expendable cyber-cops with the promise of
sentence reduction. The action is violent and the air blue
with four-letter words, but the technology which
pervades the series is unconvincing. Verdict: in danger of
being a hit with Manga Video's target audience.
CYBER CITY OEDO 808 #2 (Manga Video), mins, cert
15, 9.99
A slight improvement on part 1.
DANGAIOH (Manga Video), 71 mins, cert 15, 12.99
Episodes 2 & 3 (trust me) of a typical
space/team/transforming robot saga. Three girls and one
youth are brought together by the mysterious Doctor
Tarsan to operate the powerful robot DANGAIOH and
combat evil. Silly but fun and well-meant, obviously for
youngsters so it's a pity about the swearing and the 15
DEVILMAN I (Manga Video), 55 mins, cert 18, 10.99
After a spectacular opening sequence, the story opens in
modern Japan. Young hero Akira soon gets involved
with his best friend Asuka's terrifying secret: horrible
demons from the geologic past are about to re-appear.
Stylish and well- scripted horror, despite some indifferent
dubbing. Recommended.
DEVILMAN 2 (Manga Video), 57 mins, cert 18, 11.99
Inferior to Devilman 1 (see above). Best bit is the scene
where a water demon attacks a bathroom where the
hero's girlfriend bathes, but the big battle scene between
hero and bird-demon goes on far too long.
DOCHIMPARA (=The Gigolo) (Kiseki), 45 mins, cert
18, 8.99
Gigolo Jin makes his moves on a glamorous woman
who turns out to be involved with violent crime. I
confess I found this unwatchable.
DOMINION Part1 (Acts I and II), (Masamune Shirow),
(Manga Video) 67 mins, cert 15, 12.99
Shirow wrote the DOMINION manga, featuring the
manic Tank Police, in 1986, as some light relief from his
APPLESEED manga and anime. The four DOMINION
original video animations (OVA's) followed in 1988 and
1989, and proved very popular with anime fans in Japan
and the USA. The premise: in the future the world's
pollution problems have escalated and toxic micro-
organisms force people to wear filter masks out of doors.
Crime rates are very high, and to counter it the Tank
Police, a special SWAT unit, have been formed. Their
main task is to catch the criminal BUAKU gang. The
residents of Newport, a vast bio- constructed city, are
more enraged by the destructive activities of the Tank
Police than those of the criminals.
As ACT 1 opens, Leona, gung- ho red-haired female
recruit to the Tank Police, reports for duty as Lt. Britten
and his men are interrogating a prisoner with the hand-
grenade torture. Meanwhile the cyborg Buaku and his
female sidekicks the Puma twins are planning to hold up
a hospital. This is rock'n'roll sci-fi, loud, flashy, exciting,
rather violent, with glimpses of sexuality and often very
funny. The music soundtrack is excellent and the whole
thing is carried out with the unashamed panache typical
of popular Japanese animation work.
Manga Video's release is taken from a US Manga Corps
version, hence the dubbing, which is fairly well done,
uses American voices. The visual quality of the copy I
viewed was excellent. Curiously, there is almost nothing
on the box to indicate that this video is either an
animation or Japanese.
Collectors should note that the OVA's are originally 38
mins long including the lengthy title, reprise and credit
sequences, some of which Manga Video have omitted.
The four OVA's are also available subtitled from the
USA at 35 dollars each. Recommended.
DOMINION Part2 (Acts III and IV), (Masamune
Shirow), (Manga Video) 67 mins, cert 15, 12.99
In the concluding episodes of this Japanese animated
video series the ecological background continues. In Act
III Buaku steals an overpriced painting of himself with
the assistance of the sexy Puma Twins. There is a
wonderful brief cameo here of the girls as society
sophisticates. Meanwhile at Tank Police headquarters it's
"Showtime." Girl recruit Leona, in Bunny costume, helps
lob knives at a drug dealer strapped to a spinning board
with a live hand grenade in his mouth. The audience
place bets on how many seconds it will take him to spit
out the grenade. The Tank Police attend the burglary but
Leona is captured by Buaku. In the final episode the
'green' theme recurs and we find (as is typical of Anime)
that some of the bad guys were less bad than we thought.
Not quite politically correct but great fun. The artwork in
the DOMINION title sequences is a treat, and the use of
dubbing is quite acceptable this time.
DOOMED MEGALOPOLIS Chapter 1, (dir. Kazuhiko
Katayama), (Manga Video), 50 mins, cert 15, 8.99
This isn't a well-known anime, so I was pleasantly
surprised to find that it's well worth a look. Part 1 is set
in Tokyo in 1908. A rapid building program is underway
as the city expands. A hero of the Heian era (794-1185)
is buried in what is now Tokyo and is its guardian spirit.
However an evil Satanist plans to disturb the sleeping
Guardian with highly destructive results.
The cast includes a rival sorcerer, an innocent young
girl, her male friend, and her brother. Part 1 is very
attractively animated, with interesting characters, and is
exciting, with some spectacular magical happenings. It's
also interesting because it's set in a real historical Japan.
The villain wears a military uniform which may well be
symbolic of the rising militarism of the time. And if you
remember anything about the early 20th century history
of Tokyo, this adds an extra tension..
The British-dubbed dialogue, as with FREEMAN and
ARISLAN, is well cast and well acted, but this time it
does sound rather incongruous in a 100% Japanese
setting. This is Cert. 15, but the preview didn't look to be
particularly suitable for juveniles, as the horrific contents
are on a par with 3x3 EYES. Parental discretion is
Manga Entertainment Ltd should be commended for
bringing this video to our notice, and at the modest price
asked it's well worth buying.

DOOMED MEGALOPOLIS Chapter 2 (dir. Kazuhiko
Katayama),(Manga Video) 46 mins, cert 15, 8.99
A continuation of the interesting and stylish anime
incorporating 20th century history, horror and psychic
powers. Just as good as Chapter 1, and the childrens'
song sticks in your brain a while.
DOOMED MEGALOPOLIS Chapter 3 (dir Kazushige
Kume), (Manga Video), 41 mins, cert 15, 8.99
Yet another psychic defies Kato's latest attempt to ruin
the megalopolis. In this chapter the pioneering
underground railway system of Tokyo is threatened with
attack from supernatural forces; seams of 'dragon ore' are
suspected. Meanwhile the diabolic Kato once again tries
to exploit the situation. The opening of the video is rather
dry and may leave viewers wondering who these
characters are: in fact Keiko Tatsumi is aunt to the young
psychic Yukiko who was born to Yukari Tatsumi after
the latter was impregnated by Kato. As the situation
develops there is some very dramatic and suspenseful
action. This volume is by a different director and doesn't
quite match the high standard set by the preceding
chapters; it's also shorter. However if you've got
Chapters 1 & 2 you'll probably want to get this too.
DOOMED MEGALOPOLIS Chapter 4, (Manga Video),
39 mins, cert 18, 8.99
The concluding chapter, in which the evil sorcerer Kato
uses an incantation to bring down the moon. The
dialogue is splendidly full of pseudo- scientific jargon and
the descent of the Moon is very visual and quite thrilling.
Priestess Keiko Tatsumi is again in the forefront of the
struggle to defeat Kato, and the climactic sequences are a
visual treat.
FIRETRIPPER (Manga Video),49 mins, cert 15, 8.99
This is the first of the "Rumic World" series: uncon-
nected videos based on stories by famous artist storyteller
Rumiko Takahashi. It's an intricate time-travel story
which starts with forebodings of danger; after the
dramatic credit sequences, the seventeen year old
schoolgirl heroine, Suzuko, is seen looking after a little
boy, Shu, who has just had an operation. With little
warning, a massive gas explosion occurs and throws her
back in time to a battlefield in medieval Japan. She is
rescued from lecherous bandits by a young warrior, and
brought back to his village where he lives with his
adoptive father and young sister, Suzu.
Suzuko, no fainting cherry blossom she, soon has
Shukumaru searching the battlefield for the missing boy,
while the villagers prepare to repel a bandit raid. After
more dramatic events the circle of time becomes
Try not to be put of by the embarrassing "rubbish for
the kids" cassette cover (you can easily reverse it).
Manga Video clearly didn't know what to do with the
stylish Japanese original, and have produced a clumsily
dubbed version aimed at their usual mass market.
However it is just about fit for adults and retains plenty
of drama and human interest - and it's cheap. But if
money is no object fans should seek out the superior
American subtitled edition. This has much better
character voicing and should give you a shiver down the
spine as the cart descends towards the medieval village.
I may not be the best person to give an impartial review
of Manga Video's FIRETRIPPER, as unlike the rest of
you I have seen an American subtitled version and also
own a Japanese original tape of it. I was pleased by the
news that Manga Video were releasing FIRETRIPPER,
until I got a copy and played it. The visuals are, apart
from retitling, the same 48 mins, but the English sound-
track is, frankly, awful. And this time I really feel like
Japanese soundtracks are produced to very high
standards and the original FIRETRIPPER is quite typical
in having voices by skilled voice actors that sound just
right, the right amount of sound effects and specially
composed music to build up an atmosphere. The voice
actresses are often stars in their own right and the
soundtracks are the result of considerable skill and artist-
In the English version, Shukamaro sounds like a middle-
class English schoolboy, Suzuko sounds like a convent
schoolgirl and the little boy sounds much too old.
Somebody seems to have thought that the voices ought
to sound funny.
FIRETRIPPER, not being especially violent or
suspenseful depends on other qualities for its appeal. It
casts a delicate spell, a spell that is totally disrupted by
comic English voices. In the original, while Shukamaru
holds his bloody sword aloft after killing the bandits there
is no sound at all. And in the English? Naff sound effects
continue. The original Suzuko, a typical Takahashi
heroine, sounds less wimpish than the English one. That
smirk after she has hurled a rock at Shukamaro is entirely
in character. Now some people may like this release, but
I suspect that they won't like it enough to make it a big
sales success. What a pity that they will never get the
chance to hear it as it was meant to be heard. They might
have liked it a lot better.
In case it occurs to you to wonder, the English cassette
packaging is totally unlike the Japanese, which has a
large picture of a pensive Suzuko on the front.
50 mins, NTSC, $35.
This is the subtitled version. FIRETRIPPER is a very
satisfying and atmospheric time travel/paradox story, a
little reminiscent of SF such as Heinlein's 'BY HIS
BOOTSTRAPS'. The heroine, a typical 17 yr. old
schoolgirl, is looking after a little boy when she is hurled
back to mediaeval Japan as a huge gas holder explodes.
She finds herself in the midst of the bandit vs. villager
struggles of the period. As well as dramatic action it
espouses such values as love, loyalty, family, courage,
And in case anyone thinks it's implausible to have three
huge gas holders right in the middle of a built-up area, I
saw them when I was in Tokyo!
KEN) (dir.Toyoo Ashida), ( Manga Video) 112 mins,
cert 18, 12.99
This is the second Anime (Japanese animation) release
from Manga Video. The Toei Animation HOKUTO NO
KEN was based on graphic novels (manga) by Buronson
& Tetsuo Hara. It's set in the future where nuclear war
and pollution have left the Earth a barren desert devoid
of vegetation. Ruthless outlaw bikers, super-powerful
mutants and warlords prey on the few ragged human
survivors huddled in the wrecks of cities. Ken, the Fist of
the North Star, has been chosen as a saviour, but his
efforts are thwarted by his mutant rivals Jagi, Raoh, and
Shin. Ken soon loses his fiancee Julia and fights to rescue
This is a very violent piece of Anime - blood spurts,
limbs are lopped off and large numbers of combatants
slaughtered. There isn't much of a plot but there is some
rock music on the soundtrack, and there is an ecological
theme of sorts. Despite the 18 certificate the script is
very childish;it's not clear why Manga Video released this
naff item rather than the many much better examples of
Anime they could have chosen instead. The best part of
the tape is the AKIRA trailer. True, some of FIST's
visuals are quite appealing and so is the violent action if
you like that sort of thing; it's too unreal to be really
Verdict - best rented after a night of lager and curry.
GALACTIC PIRATES I,II,III, (Western Connection),
50mins, cert 18, 10.99 ea.
This series, also known as THE ENEMY ARE
PIRATES, is based on an award-winning SF novel by
Kambayaski Chohei. At first viewing it seems highly
disconcerting; a fast-paced mixture of cop show, space
opera and reality warp, with two detectives, Latell, and
Apollo from the Cat Planet, sweet young cop Marsha,
and a talking computer, Dolar. They reluctantly take an
assignment to rid the universe of the Galactic Pirates -
yes, "the enemy are pirates".
I'm not sure if the plot makes any sense but it might.
There is a contemporary music soundtrack and once one
has got over the shock of hearing Apollo talking
American street jive, the dubbing seems quite good. And
the character designs are attractive.
Bizarre and excellent acid head SF comedy/space
opera/cop show, seemingly aimed at a sophisticated
audience, and the police girl is very cute too. Only the
first volume was given an 18 cert, for reasons best known
to the BBFC, and the other two could have been 15 but
were labelled as 18 by the distributor. The complete
antidote to Star-Trek. Try it.
subtitled). (3 tapes: Stage 1,2,3) 45 mins ea., cert PG,
12.99 ea.
This attractively designed animated video is set in a
future where the remnants of humanity are both sheltered
and threatened by the war-robots created by their
ancestors and which have near-magical powers.
In the first of three action- adventures, Ital, a young
man raised by an ageing War-roid, meets Sahari,
delicious red- haired leader of a band of junk-hunters,
and Zaxon, an amnesiac War-roid with a fabled past, in
combat against an old evil.
The action is well-paced but I found the mixture of SF
and swords-and-sorcery wasn't very believable. On the
other hand the Japanese animation work and character
designs look good and the music is lively. Should appeal
to younger viewers, and animation buffs too.
93 mins, cert 18, 12.99
A rather good hired-assassin thriller in which the
eponymous antihero appears quite a sympathetic
character, as repeated counter-attacks on himself and his
helpers follow a successful killing. There are a few SF &
fantasy elements but the computer animated helicopter
sequence may be of particular interest to tekkies. Very
violent and brutal and contains scenes of sexual violence;
not for the squeamish.
GREY-Digital Target
GREY-Digital Target (Western Connection, subtitled),
80 mins, cert 15, 12.99
Dystopic SF adventure about the struggles of hero
Grey, fighting to gain citizen status in a world of
perpetual conflict controlled by a computer. Grey's
character and relationships are well drawn and the
story is exciting but the action is frequently juvenile.
GUNBUSTER (Kiseki,) 60 min ea., cert PG, subtitled,
10.99 ea.
Should appeal to SF fans of all ages. Cute schoolgirl
Noriko enters the Space High School for Girls and has a
lot of trouble with giant robot- suits. She's following in
the footsteps of her hero father, which causes some
resentment among her schoolmates. This has fine
characterisation, comedy with subtle parody of certain
anime themes, action, and even a weirdly deformed
'science' lesson. Recommended.
GUNBUSTER Vol 1 (Kiseki) 52 mins, subtitled, cert 15,
Episodes 1 and 2 of the fan favourite in which cute
schoolgirl Noriko, attending the Space High School for
Girls in the shadow of her famous father, is pushed
through a catch-em-young space jocks training course.
Fine characterisations, and plenty of mecha interest,
comedy, cuteness, action, and even a super-deformed
'science' lesson. Recommended.
GUNBUSTER 3+4; 5+6. (Kiseki), 60 mins ea. cert PG,
subtitled, 10.99 ea.
Continuation of the 6 part series, in which cute school-
girl Noriko follows in the footsteps of her space hero
father. Vol.2 has the super-deformed 'classroom' inserts
between episodes, just like the original Japanese release.
The series incorporates unusually many of the most
popular ingredients of Japanese animation and as it
progresses, the mixture of adventure, romance and SF
becomes increasingly serious, with Part 5 almost
unbearably emotional and action-packed, and the
concluding part 6, for artistic reasons, letterboxed and in
black & white.
A rare opportunity to see the best of anime in subtitled
form. Highly recommended.

GUY (Amimania), 70 min, cert 18
This distributor may no longer be trading so supplies
may be limited.
Disappointing first release from a new British label,
which promises to provide 18-rated 'anime with attitude'.
GUY is a space/tentacle/monster adventure distinguished
mainly by liberal displays of lesbian soft porn. Fairly
harmless but likely to be appreciated mainly by fans of
Urotsuki Doji 2 and its ilk.
Most anime is 'cute' and, by Japanese standards at least,
suitable for family viewing, so it's no surprise that the
raunchier stuff dredged up for UK '18 cert' video is often
rather uninspiring. Perhaps we should send Chris Smith
the sales figures for Disney's million-selling family-orien-
tated animated videos.
THE GUYVER - DATA 1 to DATA 12 (12 vols.)
THE GUYVER (Manga Video) 28 min, cert. 15, Vol. 1
of 12.
5.99 ea.
The GUYVER is a mysterious alien bio-engineered
armour. A school student finds it, and gets mixed up with
some bad guys who transform into bio- engineered
bipedal monsters.
Scenes from the "Hellcat" original comic strip, which
seems to have been penned by 18 yr. old horror fetishists,
appear inside the box sleeve.
Adults may find GUYVER well- animated but
avoidable. It's juvenile stuff, but exciting and quite well
produced. My young nephew likes it.
The series has been in the video charts, mainly because
of the low price.
Video), 60 mins, cert PG, 10.99
Epic fantasy adventure. I saw a subtitled version of this
at the A.D. 3 Con. It has decent animation, well
developed characters, and an interesting plot. The
kingdom of Palse is invaded and the army betrayed by
one of its own officers. The King is captured and the only
hope seems to lie with young prince Arislan, who is led
away by Daryoon, a demoted division commander. To
find help he seeks out an old friend and former Imperial
Secretary, Nalsus, now an artist recluse. The invading
army lays siege to Palse's capital. Later joining the
struggle are Pharangese, a female warrior sent by a tem-
ple, and Gieve, a wandering minstrel rogue who courts
the Queen's favour before the capital is overrun.
Recommended for epic fantasy fans. Women should like
the hero, Prince Arislan.
Video), 58 mins, cert PG, 10.99
Part II continues in the same likeable manner as part I.
However, about 15 minutes into the second video one
begins to suspect that there isn't going to be a resolution.
A different team of scriptwriters introduce more
characters instead of developing those from Part I, and
Prince Arislan has doubts about his legitimacy. There
follows a section in which the heroes are involved in a
civil war with an untrustworthy Indian prince and his
brother. The 'politically correct' will probably be upset by
this characterisation! A slightly disappointing "middle
episode"; two more are in production.
JUDGE (dir. Hiroshi Negishi) (Manga Video), 50 mins,
cert 15, 8.99
JUDGE isn't well known in anime fandom. The story
begins in the offices of a large Japanese trading company,
some of whose executives have been dipping their fingers
in the till and dealing dirtily with those who might expose
In the world of JUDGE, justice is ultimately dealt out,
when the ordinary legal system fails, by the Law of
Darkness. The dead seek retribution from the spirit world
for the crimes committed against them, and their pleas
are communicated through the Statute Book, a living
collection of judicial precedents recorded on human skin
and controlled by the merciless Judge of Darkness.
In the real world, the hero is Mr Nice Guy, clumsy,
passed over for promotion and treated with some
contempt by his colleagues, except for one girl who is
clearly fond of him. His secret identity is known to
nobody. He is an attractive character, but the name of
Clark Kent comes rather too quickly to mind. When he
stumbles on some clues rather by accident, the real action
JUDGE is a very black comedy. The animation is
nothing special, but the British dubbing is good and the
storyline holds one's attention sufficiently for the fifty
minutes to pass pleasantly enough.
KAMASUTRA (dir.Masayuki Ozeki), (Western
Connection), subtitled, 43 mins, cert 18, 12.99
No prizes for guessing what this video is about, so if
you are over 18 and like sex, read on. It's from an
original story by Go Nagai, who is well known in anime
circles as the creator of such videos as 'Devilman'. On the
sleeve Helen Mc Carthy (editor of Anime UK magazine)
is quoted as saying 'He knows what he likes. He likes
sex. He likes violence and this has both.' Actually, as
applied to KAMASUTRA, which isn't particularly
violent, this is a little misleading, though it sums up the
rest of Go Nagai's work well enough. The hero is ar-
chaeologist Ryu Aikawa, a 19 year old Japanese,
handsome but sexually inexperienced, with at least two
women eager to complete his education. The story is set
in modern India, and concerns the unfreezing of the
beautiful Princess Syria who has been encased in ice for
over 1500 years. A cup filled with sexual fluids helps
bring her back to life. However evil forces are plotting to
seize the princess and the love cup. The action is fairly
amusing and attractively animated, and while the English
in the subtitles is sometimes a little odd (apparently it was
titled by one of the Western Connection directors, a
former Yugoslav) this does not detract from one's
The sex in KAMASUTRA is, well, explicit, but there is
nothing nasty and there is no sexual violence. In fact the
18 certificate seems entirely due to British prudery. Not
an anime classic, but if you're broadminded why not give
it a try?
90 mins, cert PG, 12.99
A 90 minute video produced by Helen Mc Carthy's
ANIME UK group but released through Paradox Films,
the parent company of anime label Kiseki. In some ways
this is more typical of Japanese animation than anything
released here so far: it is intended for Japanese junior
high school children (most of the characters are about
14), the animation is notably jerky and in a style less
realistic than that to which we have become accustomed.
It's a comedy with a cast of odd- looking characters, a
plot we don't need to take too seriously, and one or two
nice songs. The style reminds me of LAMUNE & 40,
which you doubtless have never heard of but which ran
to a large number of episodes. I thought the first ep of
LAMUNE &40 was funnier than KO CENTURY
As for the merits of this release, it's quite fun and has
some good jokes. Just how much you like it will depend
how you tolerate the youthful voices used for the
dubbing. Remember that it was intended for children!
LAUGHING TARGET (Manga Video), 49 min, cert 15,
Based on a manga by famous manga artist Rumiko
Takahashi, and inspired by Japanese tales of demonic
possession, this human story becomes darker as it
progresses. The lives of young archer Yasuru and his
girlfriend Sutomi are disrupted when his beautiful but dis-
turbed cousin/childhood sweeheart Asizar comes to live
with him. Gripping.
LENSMAN (dir.Yoshiaki Kawajiri) (Manga Video), 107
mins, cert PG, 12.99
This movie is based on 'Galactic Patrol' the third novel
in EE 'Doc' Smith's space adventure series. Note that it
isn't the same as the Japanese movies 'Power of the Lens'
and 'Secret of the Lens'
As the story opens, young Kimball Kinnison is
preparing to leave for Earth on an old space cruiser with
his friend Buskirk. An out of control spaceship appears
and Kim boards it and lands it. The craft contains a dying
Lensman, and a mysterious device, the Lens, which
contains vital data on the location of the Boskone bases.
The Lensman tells Kim to get the Lens to Admiral
Haynes of the Galactic Alliance at all costs, and the Lens
attaches itself to Kim's hand. The Boskone turn up and
start wrecking the planet. Kim's father sacrifices himself
and Buskirk's clunker to distract the Boskone while Kim
and Buskirk escape in the Alliance ship, Brittania. The
Galactic patrol contact them and Kim meets his love
interest, Chris McDougall, for the first time. (Actually
she seems a bit old for our impetuous boy). Various fast-
paced escapades ensue, as our hero and his companions
are pursued by the evil Boskone. They encounter an
assortment of oddlooking alien creatures and a crazy old
DJ who specialises in inciting riot.
It's all rather adolescent stuff but moves along briskly,
it's often funny, and the designs of the alien creatures are
rather good. My favourite baddie was Gigeek, a little
scarlet bell-shaped alien that flits and floats around spying
on things. Not so much SF but, with its Good vs Evil and
super gadget scenario, more of a space fantasy with SF
The book is reputed to have been a major influence on
STAR WARS, and on watching LENSMAN it's easy to
see some Star wars influences. The much vaunted Cray
computer animation sequences are a bit of a let down;
though quite pretty they look like... computer animation
and don't advance the plot much. I was more impressed
by the hand drawn creatures. The music soundtrack also
seems uninspired and rather inappropiate for an action
The movie might appeal more to younger viewers;
fortunately it has a PG certificate.
MACROSS II Episodes 1 to 6 (KISEKI FILMS) 50 mins
cert 15, 10.99
Briefly, this is a 6-part sequel to the MACROSS series,
perhaps better known through the American adaption,
ROBOTECH. It's a SF adventure, with space battles and
robot action as the youthful characters
strive to repel or pacify the latest wave of alien invaders.
It's best described as a juvenile, but has some engaging
features; for instance the aliens talk gibberish (subtitled)
and the songs (also subtitled) are nice. And it looks great
on screen. Verdict: better than most TV SF.
At time of writing it was available exclusively from
Virgin and Our Price Video outlets but this may change.
MACROSS II Episodes 1 and 2 (dir Kenichi Yatagi)
(KISEKI FILMS), 50 mins, cert 15.
MACROSS II Episodes 3 and 4 (dir Kenichi Yatagi)
(KISEKI FILMS), 50 mins, cert 15.
The complete title of the six-episode series is "Superdi-
mensional Fortress Macross II - Lovers Again."
Some explanation about MACROSS will doubtless be in
order, as while both MACROSS II and the original
MACROSS have been very popular in the USA (and
Japan), neither is well known in the UK. There were
three Japanese animated space SF series,
SOUTHERN CROSS and MOSPEADA, whose footage
was re- edited and dubbed with fresh English dialogue by
American animation producer Carl Macek to form a
single American TV serial, ROBOTECH, with 85
episodes aimed at American youngsters. There were piles
of spinoff merchandise including toys and various video
compilations, such as the attractive MACROSS - DO
SENTINELS (75mins, now out on PAL).
The original series were a landmark in their day, as they
virtually invented the giant transforming robot - now an
anime staple. Macek's mid - Pacific creation was
execrated by purist fans, but it did give the popularity of
Japanese animation a big boost. Recently the Japanese
source episodes have been released in the USA along
with the new MACROSS II.
The original story? Basically, it's about successive
waves of spaceborne alien invasion by giant-sized aliens.
Earth is defended by the reconstructed alien
Superdimensional Fortress Macross. Some of the
invaders bring normal-sized humanoids with them, and
some of the latter settle on earth and mingle their cultures
with ours. Japanese-style 'idol singers' feature in the story
line, and the original soundtracks.
MACROSS II opens about 80 years after the end of
MACROSS I. The descendants of the Zentradi/Metradi
conflict have established a new society with the people of
Earth. The UN Spacy force has integrated Zentradi
warships into its fleet, and Zentradi and humanity
peacefully co-exist. Ten years previously, a wave of alien
invaders has been repelled by the so-called 'Minmay
Defence', which consists of projecting audible inages of
idol singer Lynn Minmay into space, and thus giving the
aliens culture shock and causing them to flee. This idea is
put forward quite seriously in the videos. At least, it
makes a charming change from large guns.
In MACROSS II the main characters are: annoying 17
year old brat TVreporter Hibiki Kanzaki, 17 year old
space pilot ace Silvie Gena, and the alien 'micron' Ishtar,
who looks like a young human female.
The latest wave of invaders, the Marduk, have enslaved
the Zentradi, using them as soldiers. The slave soldiers
are controlled through song by an 'emulator', Ishtar.
MACROSS II is rather different in 'feel' from most of
the animation offered by rival label MANGA VIDEO;
though produced in 1992 it's very typical of a Japanese
1980's SF space series and the relative lack of sex and
violence makes it suitable for 'family' viewing. It has the
usual ingredients of space anime: spaceships, giant
transforming robots, futuristic settings, fast action, space
battles - and pretty girls.
The appeal of the series, again like many of the older
shows, seems focused on younger and less picky viewers
of an age with the implausibly young principal characters.
Apart from that, there is a very stylish opening animation
sequence and the backgrounds generally look quite good.
While hardly an anime classic, MACROSS II is an
engaging series that delivers good family entertainment.
At time of writing it was available exclusively from
Virgin outlets but this may change.
MACROSS II Vol.3 (Parts 5&6), Kiseki Films, #10.99,
50 mins, cert 15, 10.99
Concluding volume of the likeable SF space battle ser-
ies. The invading Marduk spacefleets have the upper
hand, Ishtar is back with the Marduk fleet, and Hibiki and
Sylvie are in hot water with UN Spacy. Hibiki is
imprisoned for making an unauthorized broadcast in
which he reveals the truth about the aliens and the war to
the public. Meanwhile, an epic space battle is in progress
and the UN Spacy forces are losing. As the mad Marduk
emperor Ingues moves in on Earth for the final
confrontation, he orders the "song of death" to be sung
by the 'emulators', the normal-sized females who control
the Zentradi slave-warriors. Some dissent is felt by Lord
Feff, and Ishtar returns to Earth.
In the concluding episode 6, Sylvie Jena persuades
Commander Exxegran to let her use the old alien
battleship MACROSS in a desperate assault against the
Marduk flagship. It takes off with Sylvie, Hibiki and
Ishtar aboard, and they fire the main energy weapon, but
the Marduk flagship remains in one piece. Observing the
strange effect the MACROSS has had on Sylvie and
Hibiki, Ishtar resolves to sing a peaceful song of Earth.
As in all the best cliffhangers, will it work?
The designs in MACROSS generally look good, and
bits of it are very pretty indeed. There is more action in
the concluding episodes than in much of the earlier four
and the storyline is fairly well plotted. Also noteworthy
are the repeated reference to 'culture' and the idea that
learning from other races, interbreeding and making
peace with them is generally a good thing. The use of the
songs in the plot is certainly rather odd but it makes a
pleasant change from large guns and excessive violence.
Indeed although we see various spacecraft destroyed we
don't see anybody killed on screen.
The hifi stereo soundtrack sounds good, and the songs,
mostly in Japanese and subtitled, are quite pleasant.
Though the script is a little juvenile, MACROSS seems
no more silly than a certain very well- known and long-
running TV SF series now in its 2nd generation. I have
found that a liking for MACROSS has grown on me as I
have watched the preview tapes in succession. Verdict: a
charming series and recommended for family viewing.
MARIS THE WONDERGIRL (Manga Video), 48 min,
cert PG, 8.99
In this space comedy, also known as "Supergal" or "Maris the Chojo", and adapted from a manga story by Rumiko Takahashi, Maris is a Thanatosan and six times stronger than the average Earthling. She is employed by the Inter-Galactic Space patrol but is always broke because, without her restraints on, she accidentally smashes everything she touches. She is accompanied by a shape- changing fox with nine tails (a traditional creature from Japanese folklore). And look out for the characters
from Takahashi's URUSEI YATSURA appearing
fleetingly in the beach scene.
This is a very funny video with much visual humour, but
then it was just as funny in Japanese, and Manga Video
have ruined the 'out-take' end credit sequence (which
some fans thought was the best part) by compressing it to
half the original width. This is one of several recent
releases where Manga Video (possibly inspired by
favourable comments about Crusader's 'regional British
accent' NUKUNUKU), have given the characters a
strange mix of international accents. (Anime voice actors
ususlly speak ikantoi, the Japanese equivalent of Home
Counties English). Here, Maris has a rather displeasing
American accent. The standard of Manga Video dubs
generally lags behind that of the newer UK anime labels;
on present evidence MV are unresponsive to criticism
from more knowledgeable fans.
MERMAID FOREST, (Manga Video), 56 mins, cert 18,
MERMAID FOREST, (US Manga Corps), 55 mins,
subtitled, $35, unrated.
Rumiko Takahashi's manga story was based on
Japanese legends, in which eating the flesh of a mermaid
can confer eternal life - at the price of making eternal life
a lonely hell. A gory tale of sudden death, gruesome
medical experiments, and long meditated revenge; this
isn't explicit by our splatter standards but rather, on a
first viewing it works on the imagination to produce a
strong frisson of horror in the way that the best horror
movies do.
Manga Video's low-priced mass-market version uses a
rather freer translation than the American subtitles, and
though the dubbing sounds a litle flat, it's quite accept-
able. Definitely one of Manga Video's better offerings.
MOLDIVER (Pioneer) vols 1 to 3, 60m each, cert PG,
12.99 ea.
In MOLDIVER two young people, Hiroshi, a
technologist, and his sister Mirai, are able, courtesy of a
special research project, to transform into American-style
superheroes. Unfortunately the powersuits only work for
a max of 666 seconds and then deliver them back in an
unclothed condition. Also featuring a handsome hunk,
Masaki, a mad scientist, Dr Machinegal and his female
androids, this is definitely a fun series with much silliness
and apparently sends up superheroes, as well as deriving
much amusement from the passions of the average
Japanese girl for fashion, men and idol singers. Made
with the usual high Pioneer production values. If this
sounds like what you enjoy, then buy it.

MONSTER CITY: (Manga Video), 84 min, cert 18,
This movie is also known as "Hell City - Shinjuku" and
best known in the fan underground for the visuals which
include dream-like sequences and some beautiful
character designs. Hero armed with a wooden practice
sword takes on a swarm of demons; you got it, the plot is
rubbish. And Manga Video have given the Japanese
characters a strange mix of international accents.
Interesting but flawed.


ODIN (Manga Video), 93 mins, cert PG, 12.99
In this movie a newly commissioned spaceship with space
cadets aboard sets out on its first mission and hears a
SOS messags from the spaceship Jupiter. This early MV
release was widely derided by fans for the space cadets
rushing around to 70's rock music and other silliness. The
solar wind powered spacecraft are ludicrously
unscientific and the story is dumb. Still, there are a few
pretty bits in it.
OTAKU NO VIDEO, (AnimEigo/Anime Projects), 100
mins, subtitled, cert PG, 12.99
I saw the UK released PAL version of this in Cybertek
after I had bought the American NTSC. This is a mock
'documentary', mostly animated but with several live-
action 'interviews'. Committed Japanese fans of anime,
manga, SF and the like are known as OTAKU and this is
their story. In particular it's the story of a group of fans
who set out to form their own company selling kits and
videos. The makers clearly knew their subject only too
well and this is a very entertaining video, highly recom-
mended to all fans of anime and manga. You'll laugh, till
you start to see yourself in it...
PROJECT A-KO, (Manga Video), 86 min, cert 15,
This anime movie was reputedly made by its creators
'just for fun' and proved very popular. Several sequels
have been made. The story is set in the near future. A-ko,
B-ko and C- ko are three 17 year old Japanese
schoolgirls. However, A-Ko is the strongest girl in the
world, B-ko the brainiest, and C-ko the cutest. An alien
invasion is imminent, and Spy D lurks in the shrubbery.
Meanwhile the girls go to school, and A-Ko and B-Ko
fight over who is going to be C-Ko's best chum.
Later the fighting becomes wilder and wilder, involving
giant robots, spaceships etc. As you will have deduced,
this is not serious SF, but the characterisation is excellent
(it turns out that almost everybody in the movie is
female), the girls are all cute, the mecha are great and it's
exciting and very, very funny.
The video is presented in the original widescreen format
(with black bands at the top and bottom of the TV
picture). The songs, as in the Japanese and U.S subtitled
versions, are in English. This was a Japanese film about
Japanese schoolgirls, and the dialogue, though
competently dubbed, robs the movie of much of its
inimitably Japanese character. American voices don't
sound right. The translation used is necessarily equivalent
rather than exact: in Japanese, names are given a suffix
denoting the status and relationship of the speakers, so
that when C-ko addresses A- ko as A-ko-chan, we know
that they are close friends from kindergarten. Likewise,
Miss Ayumi is really Ayumi-Sensei, or 'honoured teacher
Ayumi'. The booze that the space-captain drinks is, of
course, sake. And so on. Of course, you won't have seen
the original and you may wonder why I quibble. A
worthwhile buy in
any version.

Doji 3)
RETURN OF THE OVERFIEND Eps 1 and 2 (Kiseki)
47 & 42 mins, Cert 18, 9.99 ea.
A superb hi-fi stereo soundtrack, good dubbing and
some fine visuals do not compensate for an incoherent
script and poor, derivative characterisation. Occasionally
looks great, but mostly a great load of rubbish, not that
anyone attracted by the title and the 18 rating is likely to
care overmuch. Less kinky sex than I and II. Subtitled
versions are available for sad persons who take this kind
of stuff seriously.
Episode 3 has more coherent action in it but is less
interesting visually and aurally.
RIDING BEAN (AnimEigo/Anime Projects), 50 mins,
Subtitled & dubbed versions.
Sub 19.99? Dub 12.99
This is set in Chicago and features Bean, a contract
driver who hires himself and his special car, the 'Road
Buster' out to robbers. The all-action plot involves the
kidnapping of a rich man's daughter. The action
sequences are well constructed and feature an armed
robery and getaway, shootouts, high speed car chases
with high-powered cars, and the efforts of an equally car-
obsessed Police Inspector Percy to trap Bean. Apart
from Bean, the main characters are his female partner,
Rally, the kidnapped girl Chelsea and her father George
Grimwood, kidnapper Semmerling and her young
accomplice Carrie. The featuring of active female
characters is typically Japanese. There's not much to the
film apart from the action, touches of comedy and a
couple of adult sex scenes, but of its kind it's well done
and enjoyable. Only the sex scene with the childish Carrie
provides a cold and uncomfortable dash of reality. A
good example of all-action adult anime, with the inevita-
ble cert 18.
RG VEDA (Manga Video), 78 mins, cert PG, 12.99
An epic fantasy, in the Dungeons and Dragons vein.
Caught in the midst of a war between the armies of
demigods Taishakuten and Tentei are four companions,
Yasha, who wields the devastating Yama Sword, Ashura,
a little girl with mystical powers, Karuma, a lady who can
magically summon Garuda the war bird, and Ryu, a war-
like young boy who wields an oversize sword which
creates serpents whenever near water. There is a fair
amount of plot and fantastic combats.
This little-known anime is another discovery by Manga
Video. RG VEDA is a high-fantasy swords & sorcery
adventure where most of the characters possess magical
powers. The title refers to the Indian Rig- Veda, but
which mythological characters (if any) the ianimei
characters represent is unclear. Five heroes are set
against the victorious general Taishakuten, who has
conquered the Earth. They can only defeat Taishakuten if
they find a sixth warrior and unite to form a shimmering
star. Yasha, the tall male warrior, and Ashura, the
devastatingly cute small princess, get most of the action.
The storyline starts with an ambush in a pre-credit se-
quence, and goes on with danger, magical battles and
narrow escapes. It drags in a fair number of rather
emotional plot tokens: true friendship, an abandoned girl,
a child hated by her mother, and some wonderful
conceits, such as the flock of malign but beautiful butter-
files. The magic is quite spectacular, the backgrounds are
pretty, the character designs are good and there are some
quite lovely looking scenes. The background music is
good too.
This video was made by an all-woman collective,
CLAMP, and a female outlook can be discerned in it:
more style and feeling, less blood. On a first viewing, the
video has quite an emotional impact. True the plot is a bit
corny, the dialogue is sometimes a bit dumb, and
delivered in a rather wooden manner, but it doesn't really
matter. Those scenes work, and it just looks so
I should warn prospective buyers that the end of the
video is NOT the end of the story: it ends abruptly with
nothing resolved. Altogether one has the impression that
this is part of a longer work, and that some prior
knowledge was expected. There was a Japanese original
comic, which Japanese viewers would have read.
If you have any liking for magical fantasy, go forth and
buy RG VEDA. At least, you'll have trouble finding
anything else as pretty for 12.99
ROBOTECH vol 1 to 2
ROBOTECH vols.1+2, (Kiseki), 90 mins, cert U, 12.99
First and second three-episode tapes of a projected
seven tape series. ROBOTECH was an 87-episode
English-language US TV series cobbled together by Carl
Macek from three unrelated Japanese anime series. It
infuriated purists but did much to kickstart interest in
Japanese animation.
The second volume covers some of the same events as
though with an inconsistent continuity, different character
names and a sharply contrasting style. The main interest
in ROBOTECH other than spotting influences was in
following the characters through the 87 episodes. The
second volume, featuring Lynn Minmay and her pilot
boyfriend, seems more enjoyable than the first. The
American production was clearly aimed at juveniles,
though it had an equally large adult following. The early
episodes were previously released in the UK on the
"Little Gems" juvenile label. Not many people noticed.

ROUJIN Z (Manga Video), 80 min, cert 15, 12.99
The theme of Roujin Z is a real one that is worrying
Japan's rulers as I write this - the care of Japan's large
elderly population. Japan has the world's longest life ex-
pectancy. The story opens as consciencious student nurse
Haruko is calling on Mr Takazawa, a bedridden old man
she looks after in her spare time. Mr. Takazawa is taken
away to become the guinea pig for a project in
computerised health care. So far, this sounds like the
scenario for a rather sombre or low-key film like
YESTERDAY, but this is a film by the creator of Akira,
and the action gets more and more amazing as the story
Though this is a shorter and more modest film than
Akira was, it still stands out from the flood of anime
RUMIK WORLD-Fire Tripper
RUMIK WORLD-Laughing Target
RUMIK WORLD-Maris the Wondergirl
RUMIK WORLD-Mermaid Forest
See under individual titles.
SAMURAI GOLD (Western Connection), subtitled, 60
min, cert 15, 10.99
A futuristic SF/comedy adventure that has somewhat to
do with the control of mankind by an all-powerful
computer. It veers uneasily between comedy and drama
without ever catching alight and the characters aren't
particularly interesting. Allegedly the hero is based on a
real historical samurai.
3x3 EYES-Part One
3x3 EYES-Part Two
In popular Japanese ghost stories, mitsume kozou (liter-
ally, three-eyed brat) was the name of a ghost with
superhuman powers. This myth was the basis for Yuzo
Takada's SAZAN EYES, a very popular manga series
which originally appeared in Japan's YOUNG magazine,
and is now available there as a reprint series. The first
two volumes are also available as a rather more
expensive American- translated series in approx. 10 slim
parts. The videos are a fairly faithful, if rather condensed
adaptation of the first 18 chapters of the 3x3 EYES (aka
SAZAN EYES) manga.
3x3 EYES part I (Manga Video), 58 mins, cert 18,
Yakumo's father has been absent in Tibet for several
years, looking for the fabled "3 eyes" race. Yakumo
knocks over with his scooter a strange girl who, when he
takes her to the transvestite bar where he works, turns
out to have been looking for him with a letter from his
father. Yakumo is almost killed by Pai's pet monster bird
Takuhi, and to save his life she makes him into a 'Wu', an
indestructible being. Yakumo and Pai's lives are now
inextricably bound together. The first episode (first 5
chapters) continues with a trip to Hong Kong in search of
a three- faced statue which hopefully will turn Pai into a
human. The likeable characters and exciting storyline
make this one of the better pieces of recent anime,
though the animation isn't anything special. The Japanese
version is in 4x 30 minute episodes.
Having seen the Japanese
original, I was astonished to see "cert. PG" in advance
publicity material. Apparently somebody besides myself
realised this was a mistake, for a note later arrived saying
that "3x3 EYES has now been confirmed by the BBFC as
certificate 18, not certificate PG as previously stated."
Mutterings of controversy continue, but it was obvious
to me that this could never be a British PG! While 3x3
EYES is no UROTSUKI DOJI, it does have some rather
bloody and disturbing scenes of a kind not found in the
cert. 15 rated PROJECT A-KO and DOMINION. On the
other hand, the main characters in 3x3 EYES are of high
school age (Yakumo, the principal male character is 16,
and Pai looks about the same age) so in Japan it was
obviously expected that high school students would buy
the OVAs. Indeed, the script gives some interesting
insights into the lives of Japanese school students.
Pai has met Yakumo's father in Tibet, and after a four-
year search finds Yakumo in Tokyo. At moments of crisis
Pai's 300 year old San-ji-yan (3 eyes) personality takes
over and a mysterious third eye opens on her forehead
and she acquires various powers.
As for the Manga Video version, it is dubbed into
American in much the same style as the PROJECT A-KO
dub, and (invisibly to British buyers) the credits between
the OVAs have been deleted, along with a short
scene/credit sequence at the airport. Two different voices
have been used for Pai as herself and as San-ji-yan, the
former being very little- girlish. This makes Pai's dual
personality much more evident than in the original. The
voice of the frog-demon is so guttral as to be almost
unintelligible. The plot of the first half-hour is as
confusing as ever; and as that bit alone runs to ten
chapters (five books) in the Studio Proteus translated
manga, I can't explain it all here; you'd do better to track
down the manga and read that.
This is one of MV's better releases. A complex and
interesting series and well worth a look.
3x3 EYES Part Two, (Manga Video), 58 mins, cert 18,
The Japanese OVA series appeared as four half-hour
videos, though if you haven't seen them you won't be able
to spot the join in Part Two. At the end of Part 1,
Yakumo and Pai go off to Hong Kong in search of the
Ningen, a mysterious statue of Humanity which should
restore Yakumo to normal and turn Pai into an ordinary
human. As Part Two opens they are still trying, and
sinister and baffling events soon ensue.
Those who have seen Part 1 will already feel involved
with the principal characters. A new major character, Mai
Shin, appears in Part Two, and without giving too much
away, there are more nasty thrills and a few sentimental
moments, leading to a poignant climax. The animation is
quite attractive, with a few striking images, and the music
is good. Despite the annoying American dub and what
seems to be a rather free translation, this is easily the best
of September 1993's releases.
This is an animated version of the novel 'Koshoko
Ichidai Otoko' (The Life of an Amorous Man) by the
17th century Edo period novelist Saikaku Ihara. The
stylised design of the colour animation art draws heavily
on the woodblock prints of the period. The film is both
erotic and visually striking.
THE SENSUALIST (dir. Yuko Abe), (Western
Connection), 55 mins, cert 18, 14.99
This Japanese animated film opens a window on the life
and culture of the Edo period, and in particular the
Yoshiwara pleasure quarter. The libertine Yonosuke has
spent his life in quest of sexual pleasure. Disowned by his
father, he inherits great wealth at the age of 34.
When Yunosuke is 57, one of his tailors named Juzo
comes to see him before setting out for Edo. Juzo has
unwisely made a bet with a rich merchant that he will
sleep with Komurasaki, the most remowned courtesan in
Edo, at the first meeting. If he succeeds he will win a
villa, but if he loses he will lose his manhood. Yunosuke
is astounded as he knows how hard the high rank
courtesans are to get. The best courtesans, tayu, as well
as being beautiful, were highly cultured, being educated
in poetry, calligraphy, painting, tea ceremony and other
arts. They would sleep with a client only on the third
night, the other two nights being taken up with greetings
and other social niceties.
Humble men, to whom they were 'untouchable' looked
up to them with adoration and respect.
Indignant, Yunosuke takes Juzo to Edo and enables him
to meet Komurasaki. Juzo is a laughing-stock at the tea-
house because of his nervousness, and soon becomes
drunk. He clumsily spills wine over the Courtesan's
kimono. Unperturbed, she goes out and returns wearing a
fresh, identical garment.
The film is based on incidents in a novel 'Koshoku
Ichidai Otoko' (The Life of an Amorous Man) by Saikaku
Ihara (1642-1693).
The visual style of the film is quite startling, based as it
is on the ukiyoe prints of the Edo period; in fact those
who know something of the art can play 'spot the print'.
According to the distributors, much more effort was put
into making the cells than is customary in commercial
anime. Cels were retouched, or paper or cloth was put on
the wet cels and pulled off again to create textures. Not
much of this detail shows up on video, so it would be as
well to see the film in a cinema if the opportunity arises.
What does appear on video is quite beautiful, if rather
stylised, with rich blocks of colour. The design of the film
lends itself very well to realization in animated form.
Interspersed with the story of Juzo are other erotic inci-
dents with courtesans, culminating in a long scene
between Yunosuke and Komurasaki in which they
discuss Juzo, and which indicates that they meet as
equals, sexually skilled and masters of social graces.
The film contains coy sexual images; flowers with large
stamens, toes curling in ecstasy. In voiceover, Yunosuke
regrets his own aging and the aging of the women he has
loved. A female voice narrates details of his life.
To properly appreciate the film one needs to know a
little about the segregated 'yukatu' pleasure quarters of
the Edo period, and about Japanese attitudes to sexuality.
The 'yukatu' maintained many of the traditional Japanese
arts, and the quarters and their denizens probably filled a
place in the lives of humble men that TV, films and
theatre fill today. Certainly, woodblock prints of the
famous courtesans were made and sold. Though this is
certainly an erotic film, its main appeal would be to
adults with an interest in history, art and the Japanese
customs of the period. It also makes an interesting
contrast with commercial anime which, with the probable
exception of samurai anime (rarely seen in the West), is
modern or futuristic in tone.
If you love Japanese art you'll probably like this.
STARBLAZERS vols 1 to 7
STARBLAZERS (Kiseki), 104 mins, cert U, 12.99
American adaption of first SPACE CRUISER
YAMATO series. (YAMATO was a monster Japanese
WW2 battleship). There were 26 TV episodes and it
seems Kiseki intend to issue the lot in 104 min. segments.
Best viewed as a juvenile (it has a U cert), and very
popular in Japan in its day, it now looks rather dated and
the technical details are wildly unscientific.
TENCHIMUYO, roughly translated, means "No Need
for Tenchi" or "good for nothing Tenchi". Tenchi is a
typical Japanese high school student who find himself in a
whole heap of trouble when, on summer vacation with
his grandfather, he unleashes a demon which his
forefather had imprisoned in a shrine 700 years earlier.
The series follows Tenchi's adventures while he battles
with the beautiful and mischievous demon Ryoko and
meets the other strange characters who also want to see
Ryoko back in her eternal prison.
In episode 1, Tenchi disobeys orders to enter an old
shrine, finds an ancient sword hilt and unwittingly
releases the demon. When he returns to school the
demon follows him there. She battles with Tenchi in the
deserted halls of the school. Just as he faces defeat, the
sword he removed from the shrine reveals its magical
powers and Ryoko disappears, only to reappear later in
Tenchi's bed!
In episode 2, Tenchi discovers that Ryoko is from outer
space and wants his magic sword. Meanwhile, Aeka,
crown princess of the planet Jurai travels to earth in
search of her fiancee Yosho who had disappeared years
before following a battle with Ryoko. From space, Aeka
spies Ryoko who is desperately trying to raise her own
spaceship Ryo- Oki. Aeka takes both Ryoko and Tenchi
prisoner on her ship and there they meet SASAMI,
Aeka's cute little sister who innocently releases them. On
being told that Yosho is long dead, an enraged Aeka
battles with Ryoko until both ships fall to Earth and are
destroyed. Now Tenchi has even more house guests!
In episode 3, Ryoko is still trying to find the magic
sword. Aeka despairs of ever returning to her home
planet. One day Ryoko comes home with a big black egg
which hatches a cute kitten-like animal. To annoy Aeka
she claims that she and Tenchi are its parents. Actually,
the egg was produced by Ryoko's ship and will grow up
to be just like it. Later, they travel to the mountains
where Tenchi's grandfather lives. An opportunity for
Tenchi and Aeka's love to blossom presents itself. Later,
they come across a tree which Aeka realises is Yosho's
spaceship transformed. She realises that Yosho impri-
soned Ryoko in the first place and returns the sword to
Tenchi- Yosho's descendant.
In episode 4, two new characters are introduced. The
much wanted space bandit Kagato is heading towards
earth and the utterly incompetent MIHOSHI,
granddaughter of the Galaxy Police commissioner, is sent
to capture him. Back on earth, Tenchi and the girls are
visiting a hot spring resort. Mihoshi's ship falls to earth
and she is saved by Tenchi.
This is a series that everyone interested in science
fantasy or anime ought to watch! If it doesn't make you
an anime addict, nothing will... The soundtracks also are
excellent and viewing with hi-fi stereo is recommended.
TENCHIMUYO is also a hit in Japan and is one of the
very few video releases to be commissioned for TV - the
series should start autumn 1994.
It is also a big hit with English-speaking fans and the
bilingual closed caption laserdisk sold well enough in the
USA to prompt the release of dubbed & subtitled tapes.
TENCHIMUYO (Pioneer) vol 3 (eps.5,6), 60 mins, cert
PG, 12.99
In episodes 5 and 6 the showdown battle with space
criminal Kagato takes place and there are a few surprises.
The English (or rather, Canadian) dubbing is quite good;
clearly a lot of work went into it. I'm not sure about the
voice of Aeka, who doesn't sound dignified enough, but I
really liked the voice of Wasyuu. The dialogue sounds
colloquially American, but in fact it sticks very closely to
a fan script I have for these episodes.

THUNDERBIRDS 2086 vol III, (ITC Home Video),
100 mins, cert U, 8.99
Not bearing much resemblance to the original Anderson
series, this has American type juvenile stories and
dialogue, with Japanese animation. Should keep your
kids quiet and the opening computer generated (?)
animation looks interesting.
My nephews didn't think much of it, though.
Both videos are based on a shojo manga (girls' comic)
series penned by the all-woman collective, CLAMP. The
videos do not seem to follow the manga closely. Shojo
anime is not 'girly'; rather it has a balance between action
and human interest which "boys' anime" often lacks.
TOKYO BABYLON 1 (Manga Video), 55 mins, cert 15,
Ignore the lurid and misleading sleeve; it's about a medi-
um, his cute twin sister and her boyfriend, and a cute
mysterious girl, who try to investigate and stop a series
of 'accidental' deaths connected with a Tokyo building
project. It seems that something malign and supernatural
is involved, as well as human greed. An interesting piece
of shojo, with a balance of characterisation and action.
Includes two catchy love songs.
TOKYO BABYLON 2 (Manga Video), 52 mins, cert 15,
Mediums and psychics help in the search for a psychotic
serial killer. Superior to #1; it's very stylish with plenty of
human interest and some thought-provoking ideas as well
as plenty of action. Ignore the lurid sleeve blurb.
ULTIMATE TEACHER (dir Toyoo Ashida) (Manga
Video), 50 mins, cert 15, 8.99
The video opens with a rather nice depiction of a
rundown and under-serviced suburb of Tokyo. From a
secret genetic engineering lab escapes Ganbachi, a
towering ugly hunk who is looking for a research centre
with the idea of causing some trouble. He meets a polite
schoolgirl who directs him to her high school. Once
there, Ganbachi volunteers for a job as teacher, with the
idea of knocking the out-of-control students into line. He
is opposed in this worthy aim by Hinako, beautiful gang
leader and wearer of the 'Velvet Pussy' panties. There is a
lot of underwear flaunting in this video as the opponents
attempt to embarrass each other into submission! Much
thuggery, innuendo and farce ensues.
I found myself rather out of sympathy with this video,
which was obviously made for Japanese schoolkids, and
hoping that the side of Order as represented by Ganbachi
would be victorious. ULTIMATE TEACHER isn't well
known in anime fandom, but the director, Toyoo Ashida,
also directed "Fist of the North Star" and "Vampire
Hunter D". The jokes all go on rather too long, as though
made for the slow-witted, and the animation is
unexceptional though again the British dubbing is good.
Verdict: most likely to be enjoyed by naughty
UROTSUKI DOJI-Legend of the Overfiend
UROTSUKI DOJI II - Legend of the Demon Womb
UROTSUKI DOJI (a.k.a. Legend of the Overfiend a.k.a
Wandering Kid),(Manga Video), 106 mins, cert 18,
"Legend has it that every three thousand years the
Superfiend CHOJIN attempts to unite the three worlds of
Humans, Man-Beasts and Monster Demons into the Land
of Eternity. But this legendary land turns out to be a
sickening place of horrendous violence, uncontrollable
lusts and supernatural forces beyond the imagination."
So says the publicity blurb. This is not the easiest film to
review. UROTSUKI DOJI was notorious in anime
fandom as ultra-porn, and before release here the film
was investigated by the Obscene Publications squad,
trimmed by its UK licencees, and censored by the BBFC.
Yet UROTSUKI DOJI is a valid work of art; when it's
as safe for young girls to walk alone at night in Britain as
it is in Japan, we'll be entitled to castigate its Japanese
creators. And not before.

In fact, in its UK censored form, the film is not more explicit than other Cert. 18 horror movies of the type much favoured by the British under-class. Nevertheless, for fans of explicit horror, the movie offers plenty of grue and sexual tittilation. The monsters are astonishing, and look decidedly more convincing than those usually seen in live action horror. The action is fast-paced and brutal, and the dubbed dialogue has been peppered with four letter words.
The human characters are sufficiently interesting to
attract our sympathy. The heroine, a university student,
suffers much humiliation at the hands of the more
demonic characters. Interest flags in the latter part of the
movie where the human characters feature less, and the
'ending' of the story is very weak.
If this was just another nasty film, it would not have
attracted so much attention. Perhaps surprisingly,
UROTSUKI DOJI is good enough to merit some serious
attention. This is an gripping and well-made piece of
animation. Though unpleasant, the film is astonishing,
disturbing and well enough scripted to engender a certain
suspension of disbelief and an unnerving descent into
nightmare and darkly beautiful visions. For the more
thoughtful viewer, viewing this is not necessarily a
particularly enjoyable experience, but, like a visit to a war
zone, it's not necessarily an experience one would wish to
forego. The experience of shock can be profound. Made
with disregard for any restriction on what may be shown
in a piece of art, the film exploits its theme of largely
sexual violence to the full and will challenge many
viewers in terms of what he or she feels comfortable
watching. The line artwork is particularly fine, with
figures and faces drawn with greater realism than is
customary in anime, and the visual effects amaze.
UROTSUKI DOJI has evoked mixed responses, even
among anime fans. Some people found it unwatchable,
but it did quite well in the shops at the beginning of 1993
and, evidently favoured by fans of horror and gross-out,
it sold 10,000 in the first two weeks and got into the
video Top 10.
Some, like TIME OUT, think it's "the kind of Japanese
import we can do without". The release, though very
successful for IWC is in one sense regrettable as
UROTSUKI DOJI is not typical of most anime. That said, Japanese
culture is NOT the same as ours, and this movie lifts the
lid on a Japanese sub-culture of violent and sexual
material that very few Westerners are equipped to
understand. Hence we unavoidably judge this alien art
through Western eyes. An unsettling film then, which
balances art with extremes we can hardly dare imagine.
In this case the cert. 18 really means what it says. This
movie is entirely unsuitable for juveniles. If you are not
sure of your response to UROTSUKI DOJI, you may be
well advised not to watch it. On the other hand, if you
are a fan of such material, you're probably on your way
to the video shop already.
WOMB (dir. Hideki Takayama), (Manga Video), 84
mins approx, cert 18, 12.99
Like the first movie, #2 has been somewhat cut by the
BBFC, so you'd better believe that it goes about as far as
it's possible to go under British video censorship
regulations. The storyline is not a continuation of the first
movie but an alternative view of much the same events
introducing some new characters. Much of WOMB is
concurrent with the previous movie.
It begins with some action in Nazi Germany as Hitler's
evil scientist Myunhi Hausen prepares to open the door
into Hell. The machine fails to work, Hausen is killed and
the whole area bombed. 50 years later, Hausen Jr. flies
over Tokyo using his magic orb to summon the demon
Kohoki of the Makai. The demon reluctantly agrees to
aid him in his quest to destroy the Cho-jin. Further action
draws in characters we have met in the previous movie.
The plot is fairly complicated but comes over on screen
as stretches of confusing tedium interspersed with bouts
of nastiness. It comes as quite a relief when there's a bit
of normal erotica, as when young Nagumo engages in
foreplay with his girlfriend, or when Nagumo takes
cousin Takeaki to a strip club. The movie ends with a
battle between two of the characters in their demonic
incarnations. Seen one demonic battle, seen'em all and I
didn't particularly care which one won. And if there was
anything about a demon womb in it anywhere I must
have missed it.
Altogether, this movie is a distinct disappointment after
UROTSUKI DOJI, which, though unpleasant, was
astonishing, disturbing and well enough scripted to
engender a certain suspension of disbelief and an
unnerving descent into nightmare and darkly beautiful
visions. Not so with #2. where the visuals are less
striking, and the convoluted but trivial plot doesn't
suspend one's disbelief for a moment. Worse, none of the
demonic/sex scenes are excused by the plot.
DOJI II does make efforts to develop our interest in
the characters, and there are the erotic sequences... this
isn't enough to make it worth buying. I don't imagine that
these sentiments will deter many of those who liked the
first UROTSUKI DOJI from rushing to the video shops:
DOJI II reached the top 10 of the video charts.
URUSEI YATSURA Movie 1 - Only You
URUSEI YATSURA Movie 3 - Remember My Love
URUSEI YATSURA Movie 4 - Lum the Forever
URUSEI YATSURA Movie 5 - Final Chapter
URUSEI YATSURA (="Those Annoying Aliens")
originated as a long-running comicbook series by
Japanese manga artist Rumiko Takahashi. A TV series
and several movies followed. Romantic SF comedy in
which an alien princess with awesome powers falls in
love with skirt-chasing teenager, and trouble on a large
scale ensues.
URUSEI YATSURA TV Episodes Vols 1,2 (Anime
Projects) 100 mins ea., subtitled, cert 15. (Eps.#1-#8 and
#9 to #16)
Essential subtitled Takahashi. The origins of the
scenario for this SF romantic comedy is explained in the
first TV volumes; those who have only seen the movies
may well find these illuminating! The alien devil-girl Lum
falls for Ataru Moroboshi, an unlucky youth who also
happens to be a compulsive girl-chaser. Ataru's nice
schoolgirl girlfriend Shinobu is unamused. In vol.2 some
more of creator Rumiko Takahashi's large cast of
characters, including Sakura, a Shinto sorceress, and
Oyuki, an ice- princess from Neptune, are introduced.
Confused video collectors should note that the short
episodes are arranged in 25 min. pairs. These early TV
episodes, shot in 16mm with mono sound, have modest
production values but the level of comic invention and
amusing characterisation remains exceptionally high.
ONLY YOU (AnimEigo/Anime Projects), 93 mins,
subtitled, Cert PG, 12.99
First of the stylish and utterly hilarious Lum/Urusei
Yatsura movies about 'annoying aliens'. Ataru is
kidnapped by emissaries of the planet Em with marriage
in mind. Glorious send up of the worst SF cliches,
complete with romantic entanglements and cute girls.
Loved by all the fans who have seen it already. Support
the small Bristol-based independent distributor (64
Stanley Mead, Bradley Stoke, Bristol BS12 0EG, P&P
#1) and buy this video - I promise you won't regret it!
REMEMBER MY LOVE (Anime Projects), subtitled, 93
mins, cert PG, 12.99
The third 'Lum/ Urusei Yatsura' movie - in which a very
strange amusement park opens in Tomobiki town, and at
a magic show, Ataru is turned into a pink hippopotamus,
and Lum chases an elusive magician. If you only buy one
anime video this year, get one of these!
LUM THE FOREVER (Anime Projects/AnimEigo),
subtitled, 90 mins, cert PG, 12.99
A Urusei Yatsura movie, the fourth in the series of six
seen in Japanese cinemas. Guaranteed to bewilder anyone
who still thinks anime is for kids, this is as bizarre as
anything directed by David Lynch. Featuring characters
from the UY TV series, this is one of the strangest of all
the UY movies and OVAs. Despite the PG certificate,
this movie is, with its references to giving up childish
things and various other coded references, clearly aimed
at a fairly sophisticated audience. The opening sequence
is striking, and then the plot, involving a home movie, a
giant cherry tree, and some traditional legends, gets
surreal as Lum disappears and a strange local war breaks
out. There are many dreamlike sequences as well as the
expected romantic science-fantasy comedy elements. A
must for UY fans; and fans of quality animation. But to
avoid total bafflement, watch the first TV volune or read
the first manga volume beforehand.
FINAL CHAPTER (Anime Projects/AnimEigo),
subtitled, 90 mins, cert PG, 12.99
A Urusei Yatsura movie, the fifth in the series of six seen
in Japanese cinemas. This is romantic science-fantasy
comedy in typical UY vein, featuring characters from the
TV series. Sexy alien girl LUM is kidnapped by a
childhood suitor with a chariot pulled by flying pigs.
Skirt-chasing boyfriend ATARU and her friends follow
her by U.F.O. -type spaceship to a world of darkness.
Various other complications, including an infuriated
princess wielding a very large gun, and a plague of giant
mushrooms, ensue, before relative order is restored. A
triumph of characterisation and comic writing.
VAMPIRE HUNTER D (dir Toyoo Ashida) (Manga
Video), 80 mins, cert 15, 12.99
The movie opens with the heroine, Doris Lang, a
pretty, tough and feisty young woman, walking through
the savannah carrying a big gun. She shoots a creature
resembling a dinosaur; however it gets up again even
after she has decapitated it, and maims her horse. She
kills it with a force whip. The disturbance attracts a were-
wolf, which rips a cross from around Doris's neck. The
werewolf flees when Count Magnus Lee, the vampire,
comes on the scene. He demands payment for Doris'
tresspass into his lands and then bites her on the neck.
Next on the scene comes a thin figure in a dark cloak
and broad-brimmed hat, and a mask that hides most of
his face, and riding a cyborg horse. This is D, the vampire
hunter. Doris first taunts him and then asks for his help,
showing him the puncture wounds on her neck. She
offers him sexual favours in payment (one of the more
adult parts of the script!). They join Doris' small brother
at her house, and next day the three go into town. Doris
is approached by Grekko, the mayor's foppish son, who
asks if the Count has attacked her and then, when she
resists his advances, tells everybody that she has been
The townsfolk then demand that Doris be confined, but
the local dosctor objects. D reminds the townsfolk that
killing the vampire will lift his curse. They return to the
farm to await the attack of the Count's creatures.
On paper this seems quite a strong script, with a half-
vampire hero, monsters, an evil and mysterious Count,
lots of action and plot twists and a couple of strong
female characters. The dubbed version deviates only
trivially from the original script.
Unfortunately when one sees and hears the movie, one's
principal impression is that it looks and sounds decidedly
juvenile, and more risible than frightening.
The fact that Toyoo Ashida also directed FIST OF THE
NORTH STAR should have been a bad omen for anyone
expecting anything sophisticated. Asides from a few
'adult' scenes and the level of gore, it does little to
overturn Western perceptions of 'cartoons'. The character
designs are undistinguished and the action has long
pauses while the characters threaten one another. The
movie has little of the conviction and subtlety we have
come to expect of the better anime and the tone of the
dubbed dialogue, from Streamline Pictures, completes the
impression of something intended for juveniles. There are
other anime horror videos far better than this.
VENUS WARS (Manga Video), 104 mins, cert PG,
This is set on a future terraformed Venus and follows
the adventures of an investigative female reporter and a
young soldier, and of a motorcycle race team which gets
involved in a civil war. There are battle scenes and chase
scenes but the highlight of the movie is a race between
two armed military motorised unicycles down a ravine.
This isn't a particularly well-known Anime film but I
found it very watchable. In style the animation is quite
similar to live-action, and animation buffs will note the
sections where 'live' backgrounds have been used.
Worth a look.
NAUSICAA is an anime classic directed by famous
animation director Hayao Miyazaki.
WARRIORS OF THE WIND (First Independent), 94
mins, cert U, 5.99
Re-release of cut and dubbed version of Miyuzaki's
famous NAUSICAA. 1000 years in the future the Earth
has been devastated by war and pollution. Only in the
Valley of the Wind is there peace and clean land. An
enemy ship crash-lands and brings with it a whole train of
evils including invasion. Princess Zandra/Nausicaa
escapes to the toxic jungle, infested by giant insects, and
begins the struggle to remove the invaders. The
animation is superb, and it's cheap, so if you can't get the
original uncut Japanese version (not sold in UK), get this.
WICKED CITY (Manga Video), 83 mins, cert 18,
Also known as 'Supernatural Beast City' this is a
demonic thriller concerning the imminent renewal of a
non-aggression treaty between the human world and the
realm of the demons. The Black Guards, who are
undercover operatives from both sides, try to hold the
peace against the actions of demonic terrorists and make
sure that psychic expert Dr Malyart lives long enough to
make the signing. Taki, a Black Guard, forms a
partnership with Mackie, a female Black Guard from the
The plot is fairly lively and contains the expected quota
of heart-thumping demonic attacks, and some startling
erotic scenes. The women from the Darkside are
supposed by Earthside men to have exquisite erotic
powers. Altogether, this is a very good-looking and
stylish movie. The music soundtrack is quite pleasant
though the dubbed dialogue sounds a little stilted and
mid-Atlantic. The character of the priapic 200 year old
Dr Malyart, the good guys' psychic expert, affords some
comic relief.
THE WIND OF AMNESIA (Manga Video), 80 mins,
cert 15, 12.99
Also known more literally (and poetically) as 'A Wind
Called Amnesia', this movie is adapted from a SF novel
by Hideyuki Kikuchi. A sudden disaster strips mankind of
all memory, speech and reason and thus brings about the
abrupt extinction of civilisation. The hero, Wataru,
survives with the help of a boy, Johnny, who had a
cyborg memory, and later teams up with a strange young
woman, Sophia. They embark on a journey together,
during which Wataru's attitudes are examined and
Sophia's true role becomes clear.
During the journey they are pursued by a law-
enforcement robot and come across survivors and, in one
of the most fascinating sections, the two stumble on an
ideal town, apparently still inhabited, and animated by a
master computer.
Quite uniquely in a dubbed anime, the movie is carried
by the voice of Sophia, (Denice Fairman) aided by the
other voice actors, whose voice- acting closely mimics
the tone of the original Japanese while injecting just the
right level of irony demanded by the script. They are
aided by some well scripted dialogue which seems fairly
faithful to the original Japanese, and it merits more than
one hearing. A strong script and good dubbing that
recaptures the tone of the original dialogue make for
compelling viewing. Surprisingly, the Manga version
seems much more powerful than the original, even
though I'd read a script for the latter. The compelling
impact of this dubbed version may surprise fans who
have seen it in Japanese.
The animation is sometimes rather static but the back-
ground visuals are good and the paintings of nature are
superb. On the minus side, there are one or two scenes
which seem out of place or have unconvincing details,
and the overall premise isn't, on reflection, original. The
use of voice- over (not added by the translators!) and
unconnected voices also seems excessive at times.
Despite the reservations, a serious-minded SF movie, and
surely one of the best things Manga Video have done so
ZEGUY (Manga Video), 65 mins, cert PG, 8.99
This 65-minute video, also known as "The Labyrinth of
the Sea Clouds" was almost unknown in the fan scene. It
is in fact an alternate-world fantasy in which Miki and
Sayaka, two naive schoolgirls, are transported to the
Empire of the Clouds, a world of adventure where heroes
and villains contest for the power of the god Zeguy
(pronounced Z-gai). There's plenty to delight the eye, and
adventure, invention and comedy are skilfully mixed in a
fast-paced plot. The fantasy world is internally consistent,
and the airships and other special effects would have cost
tens of millions of dollars in a live action production. The
characters could have been better developed, and so
could the details of the Empire. ZEGUY isn't quite in the
same league as PROJECT A-KO or the Miyazaki
movies, to which it bears a more than coincidental
resemblace, but with the promised PG rating offers lots
of fun for fantasy fans of all ages. Check it out.
My nephew also saw ZEGUY, of which he says: "I
think this video was aimed at a younger age group,
maybe about 10 and under. Not as funny as MARIS or
CAT GIRL NUKU NUKU. They could have made more
of the story which was a good idea."
Copyright G.Cowie Nov 1995. All rights reserved.