Entry updated 4 September 2023. Tagged: TV.
Japanese Original Video Animation (OVA) (1991-1992). AIC, Artmic. Directed by Masami Ōbari. Written by Hideki Kakinuma. Voice cast includes Michi Kanzaki, Hiroko Kasahara, Emi Shinohara, Nobuo Tanaka, Kenji Utsumi and Kōichi Yamadera. Three 49-57 minute episodes. Colour.
City no.5 is a metropolis floating on Earth's equator during the early twenty-fourth century; things are generally idyllic, though television psychic Kumi Jefferson (Kasahara) predicts that "dark destruction will rain upon us all" (see Precognition). The Earth Defence Force (EDF) has been receiving data broadcast from deep space, which Professor Michi Kanzaki (Kanzaki) (see Scientists) has used to build a machine – though neither she, nor I-Zack (Tanaka), EDF's AI supercomputer (its name presumably a nod to Isaac Asimov) knows what it does. It is revealed to be the Mecha Orgun (Yamadera), a deserter from the Evoluders, a mecha army headed by Lady Mhiku (Kasahara) and led by Commander Zoa (Utsumi). They wander space in "Combat Planet Zohma" – which owes something to the Death Star from Star Wars (1977) – attacking and destroying everything they find. Orgun has decided to protect the next planet on their itinerary – Earth. Meanwhile, the student Tomoru Shindo (Yamadera) is plagued by strange dreams: he considers himself a man out of time and is nostalgic for the 20th century "when the world moved on men's passions" (he wears a Luftwaffe jacket as a mark of this – see World War Two). When Zoa sends a mecha to destroy Orgun the latter calls to Tomoru and they combine, battling and defeating the attacker.
Michi and I-Zack use Tomoru to probe Orgun's memories, but there's something hidden there that scares him, and he refuses to link with Orgun again – until he sees another of Zoa's mecha threaten a woman and child. As the Evoluders are coming from Cygnus, Michi and I-Zack research a lost 2100 mission sent there to investigate some mysterious "supergravitational waves" (see Gravity). The pair conclude the waves pushed the crew "to the limits of human Evolution"; they built mecha (strictly speaking, Powered Armour) to survive deep space – their bodies atrophying over time to become the suit's nervous system (see Cyborgs). Orgun had realized Earth is the Evoluders' home planet, so seeks to defend it; his connection to Tomoru is due to one of the latter's ancestors being on the Cygnus mission. Zoa is the real leader of the Evoluders, with the precognitive Lady Mhiku effectively his prisoner: the viewer will note the resemblance between her and Kumi – who has continued to offer dire warnings – and it becomes apparent they are communicating. The Combat Planet enters our Solar System, destroying any EDF spaceships that confront it, so Michi seeks to replicate Orgun's design by continuing to probe his memories, despite her concern that the Tomoru might end up permanently absorbed.
Three months later the Combat Planet arrives: Zoa orders the firing of an anti-matter cannon (see Weapons) to destroy the Earth ... fortunately it takes a while to power up. Accusing Orgun of being weakened by "love", he also reveals some of his motivation: believing the Cygnus mission had been left to die, it proved only power can be trusted – for "the heart is NOTHING!". The pair fight, with Zoa seemingly victorious until Orgun manages one last attack, with the dying Zoa acknowledging "the power of the soul. The potential of this thing called man". Using Michi's mecha, the EDF forces led by Yoko Mitsurugi (Shinohara) have destroyed the Combat Planet's control centre, but cannot stop the cannon's countdown: only Orgun can destroy its beam, but for this needs the power of the Sun, still below the horizon. Kumi assures him, "I'll use all my power and call the sun to you" ... and it duly rises ahead of time (see Telekinesis)! Orgun meets the cannon's beam, transforming into a massive energy blast that annihilates it.
Orgun crashes to Earth, fortunately within driving distance of EDF HQ, allowing Michi to meet up with Tomoru, as he stands by the remnants of Orgun. The freed Lady Mhiku, who we learn is a superhuman life form created for the original Cygnus mission, is now near-godlike; she announces "our future does not lie here ... farewell my motherworld" and departs with the remnants of her people. Tomoru explains, "They're going to continue their eternal evolution. But now, through Mhiku, they've relearned compassion from us," adding that "Orgun didn't come just to save Earth: he came to save his own people as well."
Whilst the series' characterization is not particularly strong, the plot is busy: there is a reasonably exciting battle scene in each OVA instalment, but these do not dominate events. The story fails to entirely cohere: the viewer has to make assumptions – for instance, that Lady Mhiku presumably channelled her powers through Kumi, so explaining her surprising ability to move suns. Overall, Detonator Orgun is a good, entertaining Anime. [SP]
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