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Entry updated 3 May 2021. Tagged: Film.

Japanese Original Video Animation (OVA) (1984; vt Planet Busters; vt The World of the Talisman). Original title Bāsu. Idol, Kaname Production. Directed by Shinya Sadamitsu. Written by Junki Takegami. Voice cast includes Ichirō Nagai, Kaneto Shiozawa, Keiko Toda, Miina Tominaga and Kazuki Yao. 80 minutes. Colour.

With a galactic War ongoing between the Organics and Inorganics, space merchant Bao Luzen (Nagai) and his assistant Kim Junobel (Shiozawa) are searching for SHADE, a white sword that could defeat the Inorganics and also earn a sizeable profit for themselves. The sword manifests on the planet Aqualoid, where it is found embedded in a rock by young Nam Shurugi (Yao): as he approaches, Arlia (Todia), a Star Princess, briefly appears. He extracts the sword (King Arthur parallels inevitably come to mind) [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below], but is attacked by an Inorganic Mecha: whilst fleeing he meets his friend, Rasa Yupiter (Tominaga), who is on her floater bike, being pursued by three Inorganic motorcyclists. The cyclists' conversations often suggest male insecurities, though the last words of one dying by Nam's sword also reference Buddhist thought (see Religion): "I hear the impermanence of all material existences of this world; all living things die and the people you meet leave you." Not all Inorganics are so philosophical; a later one merely recites the names of vegetables. The friends are rescued when Bao and Kim arrive. Arlia now reappears, to explain the universe is alive but in an embryonic state: when filled with organic lifeforms it will evolve to the next stage (see Evolution; Transcendence), but the accidental emergence of inorganic life is a cancer that could destroy the universe. SHADE contains "crystallized life energy, within which many consciousnesses are stored" (see Upload): they will merge into one, to form the consciousness of the universe and destroy inorganic life.

The four now go to a deserted underground City, the site of a battle with the Inorganics 200 years ago when nuclear weapons were used. Stored here, Bao believes, is the Dongemaharu: a gun that can destroy planets by turning them to plasma – he wants to sell it to the Star Military to use on the Inorganics' home planet. Nam finds it, but shortly after a moon-sized Inorganic arrives and attaches itself to Aqualoid. In the resulting confusion one of the motorcyclists who chased Rasa, embittered and petulant, grabs the gun and fires it: Aqualoid is destroyed. SHADE departs, now carrying Kim, Bao, Nam and Rasa's consciousnesses: the scene pans out, eventually to reveal Arlia and another Star Princess in silent conversation in a strange landscape.

The film combines mysticism, Metaphysics, action and silliness (Bao is clownish and there are comical aliens), elements that unfortunately often jar. Given that the Inorganics appear to be sentient, the Star Princesses' condoning of their eventual genocide is disquieting. The motorcyclists' self-absorption and insecurities ("No matter how hard I work, my life doesn't get any easier.") are presumably intended as a metaphor for those human traits that need to be shed. The animation is usually very good, with some impressive imagery, such as when Nam finds the location of the Dongemaharu. Despite its flaws the film moves at a good pace – particularly for those fond of long chase scenes – and is reasonably diverting.

As was often the case in the 1980s, the original English dub changed the story somewhat, though an improved one was released many years later. [SP]


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