Entry updated 20 December 2021. Tagged: TV.
Japanese Original Video Animation (1992), based on the Manga by Natsumi Itsuki. Madhouse. Directed by Katsuhisa Yamada. Written by Mami Watanabe. Voice cast includes Toshiko Fujita, Yasunori Matsumoto, Yuko Minaguchi, Yuji Mitsuya, Tamio Ohki, Keiko Toda, Kōichi Yamadera and Mari Yokoo. Two 35-minute episodes. Colour.
In 1990, World War Three and the resulting six-month Nuclear Winter wiped out 60% of humanity (see Disaster). A time of chaos likened to Japan's fifteenth century-Sengoku period follows, during which a rumour spreads of a scientifically-advanced City surviving untouched: its name is Oz. Thirty-one years after the war, Dr Filicia Epstein (Minaguchi) seeks her brother Lyon (Mitsuya), who had disappeared five years earlier whilst looking for Oz: she is rescued from thugs by Muto (Matsumoto), a young mercenary. When her uncle's house is bombed, a cybernoid (see Androids), male but resembling her mother, is found: it runs amok until it hears Filicia's voice and calls her master. It explains in Lyon's voice that it is prototype 1019 (Fujita), an AI who is the first step in his dream of creating machine sapiens. 1019 will take her to Oz for a reunion with her brother.
Whilst they are travelling, prototype 1021 (Yokoo) arrives. She says 1019 is a primitive model – "a mere machine" – that, by having the thought circuitry of a woman in a male form (see Transgender SF), will suffer dysphoria and be driven insane – so must self-destruct. 1019 kills the smug 1021 but suffers an Identity crisis: Muto assures them they are a living creature as long as they have the desire to survive. However, it is revealed that Filicia's mother was insane, and this madness sometimes surfaces in 1019 – who decides to continue to Oz to see if Lyon can cure this. Filicia is taken to Oz by other cybernoids. Meanwhile, Muto is instructed by Filicia's father to kill Lyon and destroy Oz, explaining Oz was a military base created by Dr Dantley (Ohki), whose killer satellite is now controlled by Lyon, who intends to use it to direct wars and mould civilization. Matters are complicated by Lyon being linked to Oz's Computer, Asura, which is programmed to use the satellite's killer ray on humanity if he is harmed.
Filicia has insisted that Lyon invite Muto to Oz, so getting there is straightforward; he is accompanied by his friend Nate (Yamadera) and 1019. Once there, Lyon reveals he plans to transplant Muto's brain into an 80-year-old body: fortunately Dr Dantley suddenly appears and saves him, helpfully revealing he can instruct Asura to self-destruct. Angered, Lyon orders the cybernoids to kill all the other humans on Oz ... then unwisely has his mind transplanted into a child clone of himself: so, just after shooting Muto, he is killed by a cybernoid who rejects his claim to be Lyon, pointing out Lyon is 22 years old. As the cybernoid moves to finish off Muto she is killed by 1019, who has developed their own identity. Muto, mortally wounded, seems to die in 1019's arms just before Oz explodes. However, six years later, Filicia returns to the ruins of Oz and finds a Cryonics capsule with a living Muto inside.
The first OVA suggests the series is going to look at issues of Identity, gender and what it is to be human; but the second only partly follows up on this – such as Nate's relationship with cybernoid 1024 (Toda) – focusing instead on action. It might be that too much of Itsuki's manga, which won her the 1993 Seiun Award for Best Comic of the Year, has been left out: there are short-cuts and plot holes that leave important elements, such as 1019's story, underdeveloped. Though rushed, this is an interesting Anime which needed more time to develop its themes. The connections to Frank L Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1903) are largely cosmetic. [SP]
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