It looks like 1995 is going to be a great year for Japanimation, with more super powered babes and giant robots than we can handle! We got a few tapes in the mail, chatted with our guy at the video store, and scoured the Information Superhighway for as many details as we could find on new series. Take a look at what we got and join us in hoping we see these released in English someday.
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
Gee: After the travesty that was G Gundam, with its stupid looking robots and silly plot, it looks like we’re finally returning to form with a real Gundam, with war, and mature plots. As any true Gundam fan knows, Gundam is all about the super deep stories and intense character moments. With five protagonists, Gundam Wing looks like it’s going to up the ante like no other Gundam we’ve ever seen. With five guys taking the spotlight, I bet we won’t have to worry about any girly pandering. I will admit though, I’m conflicted about another AU Gundam series. What happened to the UC? After Tomino’s riveting masterpiece, Victory, I can’t believe Bandai would ignore it altogether. Still, glad to see another real Gundam for true fans.
Tenchi Muyo! TV
Jel: Tenchi thinks he’s just a normal guy until a bunch of cute space girls crash land into his life and reveal he is actually galactic royalty. The new TV series is based on the OVA’s released a few years ago, which I have on tape. The videos were funny and surprisingly sweet sometimes, but I’m not sure why all the girls love Tenchi. He’s totally useless and just happens to stumble into some cool super powers. I hope this setup of “lame dude surrounded by cute girls in love with him” doesn’t become a trend, maybe the new TV series will improve on his character.
Artemis: Fushigi Yuugi is an adaptation of the currently ongoing shoujo manga, which began its run three years ago and combines a number of genres including fantasy, adventure, drama, and romance. This bishounen-filled title revolves around Miaka, a junior high school girl who, along with her best friend Yui, is transported to ancient China. There, she is given the role of priestess and tasked with gathering the seven Celestial Warriors of Suzaku, in order to summon the god and save the kingdom from destruction. Involving strong elements of martial arts on top of its fantastical setting and themes, Fushigi Yuugi might perhaps be thought of as the shoujo answer to Dragon Ball Z, and is no doubt in good hands with studio Pierott, which was also in charge of the recently completed and highly popular YuYu Hakusho. While Shin Seiki Evangelion might already be generating all the buzz, for my money, Fushigi Yuugi is the one to keep an eye on in this year’s Japanimation line-up.
Jel: The plot of The Slayers doesn’t sound too exciting as it seems to just be about a girl sorceress and her friends going on adventures. It’s really the setting that makes it different. I haven’t seen too many fantasy Japanime series, the only one I can really think of is Record of Lodoss War. But while Lodoss War feels more like a Final Fantasy or Dragon Warrior game, The Slayers looks like it’s going to be some kind of comedy. Comedy and action are things Japanime combines all the time (like I love Project A-ko for example), but not sure how that would work in a fantasy setting. Maybe some kind of parody? I guess that could be funny so I think this will at least be worth a rental.
Shin Seiki Evangelion
Jel: Gainax (Wings of Homenaise, Gunbuster, Nadia: Secret of Blue Water) is one of those names you hear die hard Japanime fans talk about even though no one else has heard of them. On the rare chance you’ve seen their work though, you know how excited you should be for their latest project. Shin Seiki Evangelion is a new mecha series with bizarre looking robot designs and lots of religious imagery and references. Based on the recently released manga it seems like it will be very serious and thoughtful, which is strange. The man character, Shinji, is very shy and has no confidence. I mean, shouldn’t mecha shows be about robots punching things? Shin Seiki Evangelion could end up being great regardless, but I have a feeling it’s going to end up being another Gainax cult favorite that hardly anyone will see.
Ghost in the Shell
Gee: Thank god for Japanime keeping cyberpunk alive. Taking inspiration from the likes of Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell looks like the next big cyberpunk Japanime. Directed by Mamoru Oshii of Patlabor fame, I’m sure Ghost in the Shell will stay true to its manga roots and maintain a nice balance between fun action set pieces, weirdo philosophy, and cool naked robot chicks. I’m so glad Japan keeps making all this super cool sci-fi stuff. I’m sure we have decades of great cyberpunk and sci-fi from Japan to look forward to. Why I bet even 20 years from now, we’ll still have tons of amazing Japanime that push the envelope without resorting to cheap pandering. Japan wouldn’t fail us, right?