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Dallos

Japanese Original Video Animation (OVA) (1983). Pierrot. Directed and written by Mamoru Oshii and Hisayuki Toriumi. Voice cast includes Tesshou Genda, Shuuichi Ikeda, Yoshiko Sakakibara and Hideki Sasaki. Four 30-minute episodes. Colour.

At the end of the twenty-first century Earth is prospering, the problems caused by Pollution and declining resources cured by the exploitation of the Moon's mineral wealth. However, the lunar settlers are not benefiting – being overworked, forced to wear tracking devices and ruled with a heavy hand by the authorities, particularly the military commander Alex Riger (Ikeda). In the past a terrorist incident was faked to tarnish the reputation of the Moon's independence movement, whose younger generation, led by Dog McCoy (Genda), have now taken up arms. The settlers, who live on the Moon's dark side, worship a deserted structure called Dallos; its origins are unknown, but it is treated as a symbol of the unseen Earth by the settlers, particularly the older generations who still feel a bond with their home planet.

Eventually the Moon's guerrillas are forced to take refuge in Dallos, which is badly damaged during the subsequent battle, leading to riots and strikes by the settlers. Later the structure is attacked again – but it has repaired itself and now fights back with lasers, seriously depleting both the military and the guerrillas. Now they know Dallos is safe the settlers return to work and things go back to normal.

Young Shun Nomonura (Sasaki) had been reluctantly caught up in the independence movement, befriending Riger's kidnapped girlfriend Melinda (Sakakibara), who becomes sympathetic to the lunarians problems. In the last episode he takes his dying grandfather to the Moon's brightside to see the Earth again, en-route passing through an old, wrecked moonbase whose inhabitants were killed in one of the frequent accidents that blighted the early days of colonizing the Moon. They reach the Sea of Nostalgia, an immense graveyard for the many thousands who died as they worked to save the Earth. His grandfather dies: Shun understands his attachment, but believes the Earth should share the prosperity it has gained from the settlers efforts; so, though uncertain of his long term plans, decides to join the guerrillas. Meanwhile, Melinda goes to Earth to change hearts and minds, but it is clear the Earth Government has no intention of compromising.

Here the series ends, with the Moon/Earth conflict unresolved and the nature of Dallos still a mystery. Though the settlers believe it to be a deserted Earth moonbase, it is difficult to understand how a technologically advanced structure could have been built and forgotten by the human race in such a short time (the likelihood being that it is actually an Alien artefact). Dallos was originally planned as a television series; presumably these outstanding issues would have been addressed in the longer format. Another puzzle, considering that many settlers are surprisingly muscular and we see no evidence of the Moon's low Gravity, is whether artificial gravity exists or the creators have just ignored the matter.

Influenced by Robert A Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (December 1965-April 1966 If; 1966), this is a reasonably exciting Anime, with the animation having its moments. Though the characters themselves lack depth, the conflict between the first two generations of settlers (who still see Earth as home) with the third (who feel no such loyalty) is an interesting story element.

Dallos is considered the first direct-to-video animated release and thus the first OVA. The four episodes were edited together, with some new material, to become the film Dallos Special (1985); it was released in the US as Battle for Moon Station Dallos (1991).

This was an early work by Oshii, who would go on to direct, amongst other works, Angel's Egg (1985), Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer (1984), Mobile Police Patlabor (1988-1989), Sky Crawlers (2008), and most importantly, Ghost in the Shell (1995). Toriumi was already an established director at this time, his genre work including anime tv series such as Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (1972-1974; original title Kagaku Ninja Tai Gatchaman; vt Gatchaman), about a team of environmentally minded Superheroes, which was adapted for US television as Battle of the Planets (1978-1980); Hurricane Polymar (1974-1975), about a superhero whose suit gives him Shapeshifting powers; Tekkaman: The Space Knight (1975; original title, Uchū no Kishi Tekkaman) also a superhero series, but concerning the search for a new Earth to house humanity; Go-wapper 5 Go-dam (1976; vt Goliath the Super Fighter), about a Mecha team noteworthy for having a female group leader. He would subsequently direct and write the OVA Lily C.A.T. (1987). [SP]

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Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 01:50 am on 12 August 2022.
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