Japanese animated film (1980; vt Space Firebird 2772). Original title Hi no Tori 2772: Ai no Kosumozōn. Tezuka Productions, Toho Company. Based on the Manga by Osamu Tezuka. Directed by Taku Sugiyama. Written by Taku Sugiyama and Osamu Tezuka. Voice cast include Kazuo Kumakura, Katsue Miwa, Kaneto Shiozawa and Keiko Takeshita. 122 minutes. Colour.
During his early childhood Godo (Shiozawa) is raised by a Computer, until the arrival of a female Robot, Olga (Miwa), as a rather belated babysitter and helper. Surprisingly strong, she also has the ability to Shapeshift into a flying vehicle and other objects. Godo later trains to be a Spaceship pilot, excelling during training, until asked to kill harmless Aliens, which he refuses to do. He begins to harbour doubts about Earth society; that their spaceships are shark-shaped is also a clue.
He is selected for a mission, to capture Cosmozone 2772, a powerful phoenix-like alien – previous expeditions having died in the attempt. However, his romance with a daughter of the ruling elite has him sent to an Icelandic labour camp. Rescued by Olga, they escape in a convenient spaceship with the prison doctor, Saruta (Kumakura). The world is suffering an energy crisis (see Power Sources) and the Government's answer is to tap the magma beneath the Earth's mantle: but Dr Saruta thinks using the phoenix's unlimited energy is a safer answer, so they go to acquire it.
After meeting several colourful aliens, they find and battle with the Phoenix (Takeshita): Saruta dies and Olga is severely injured. Godo now realizes he loves her (we already know she loves him): his grief and love impresses the phoenix, who breathes life into Olga, reviving her. Godo and Olga return to Earth, just as the Government's experiments cause earthquakes reducing the planet to ruins (see Disaster). Godo says he would sacrifice his life to restore the world: Olga, who had been possessed by the Phoenix, grants his wish. Earth is restored, Godo becomes a baby and Olga a woman, who cradles him.
The world is a familiar scientific Dystopia (see Clichés), ruled by an elite (see Politics) with dissent forbidden and children not of the ruling class raised by computers, which also select their roles in life. Nonetheless, the antagonist, a politician, clearly believes he is acting for the best. Storywise the main problems are Olga being absurdly overpowered (and sexy) for a child minder; the Humour, provided by comical aliens, not sitting well with the adventure and occasional mysticism; and the ending being a rush of events that do not fully cohere without familiarity with the source manga (at one point the phoenix declares it has not seen anything like Godo in millions of years: apparently having a power stronger than anything in the Universe ... but, going by what the film has shown us, this is pure hyperbole). However, taken as a whole, this is an enjoyable, lively film (if overlong): the animation has some nice moments, though the Phoenix itself is a little underwhelming. [SP]
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