Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Megazone 23 Perfect Collection (ADV 2007)

Finally. I missed the initial region 1 DVD release of Megazone 23 and could not turn it up until now, and I didn't want to just rent it, such is the admiration I have for this title. After twenty years, it's a relief to be able to see this again.

Cover scan for Megazone 23 Collection Pictures, Images and Photos

In the mid 80's, anime was proliferating the US through a network of fan clubs starting with the CFO and working it's way down to various regional groups, including our own Anime Keiken in Pittsburgh. Anime at this time meant taking what offerings you could get from Saban or DIC, or enjoying a crummy third or fourth generation dub in it's original Japanese without the aide of subs. Such was my introduction to "Megazone 23", a dark (for the time) sci-fi with a massive human element that suffered only slightly for the lack of translation. It continues to serve as an early example of seriously compressed storytelling that succeeds with the aid of a (for the time) mind-blowing twist and excellent design aesthetic developed by ARTMIC and Hiruhiko Mikimoto. It also featured a gory execution and a sex scene, two "Firsts" for a mainstream production such as this, and also rather mind-blowing (for the time.) Finally, it reserves it's place in anime history for being the blockbuster anime to secure the future of the OAV, then a fledgling concept. Seeing this as a kid in Western PA only further convinced me that anime was here to stay. Seeing it again with subtitles convinces me that I was right. Part II is great, mainly because it provides resolution and breaks the mold as far as character design goes. Part III was a mistake, but it's out there. Oh well. I lent my fan dubbed VHS to my friend Dave back in 1989, and never saw him or my movie again. I could never have guessed at the immense popularity anime would garner in the following decades, and as annoying as it can be, in this case it's more of a lucky break.

Props to ADV for continuing to exploit this property. It's truly one of the great films of the "Real Robot" era, and needs to be available like a lot of other deserving titles (Crusher Joe, Giant Gorg) It's nice to see a company maintain respect for the groundbreaking works in a time when anime seems to focus entirely on "Fan Service," Gundam, and collectible card games. US otaku, however, will not likely respond as I have, and so this release will probably not release the floodgates as I would like. True, classic titles continue to trickle in as the market continues to broaden, but it's clear by the packaging of the Megazone 23 Perfect Collection that ADV will be taking their time about it. If I wasn't sure about the story already, after reading the summary on the case I might be expecting the prequel to "Ghost in the Shell," and the artwork approved for the cover adds further confusion by featuring characters only from the sequels in a stylized layout that's hard to read. I realize that there are complicated rights issues when a US company is handling anime, but, like, who the hell are they trying to sell this to? Special features-wise, there are enough design sketches to make this worthwhile for the older fan who never picked up the Roman Album, otherwise, I was really hoping for the scratched footage of Shogo raiding the airport ( filmed as the original ending, or maybe for "Robotech: The Movie") Not much other information, unless the English speaking cast offers insights in their commentary, which seems unlikely (People watching dubbed anime have no idea what they're missing!)

Priced at $30, it's a little steep for me to be sending casual fans out of their way for, especially when they really want more "Full Metal Alchemist" so I'll just say if you're like me, gathering up all the great anime from the 80's, this should be on your list.

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