Colloquium: Ozma Episode One

Bynas is a badass from the moment she steps on screen.

ajthefourth: Ozma is a bit of an odd entity. Penned by Leiji Matsumoto (Space Battleship Yamato, Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Galaxy Express 999, among many other things) in 1980 it is only just now receiving an anime adaptation. Everything about the character designs scream both Matsumoto and the late 1970s-early 1980s. Perhaps, upon first glance, one would expect it to be pure, campy, sci-fi fun.

And yet, Ozma isn’t camp. However, it is pure fun.

Admittedly, as a viewer, I harbor none of the nostalgia for Matsumoto and his worlds that some do, having only seen Arcadia of My Youth. This means that I may potentially be missing out on key references to his past works. One of the great things about Ozma is that you don’t have to. There’s no level of entry for viewing and, although the story setup itself is hardly an original one, it’s done very well. From the sweeping opening pans establishing the desolate setting to the daring escape by our ragtag crew in the closing moments, Ozma keeps the viewer entertained, even if it’s not hard to guess, on a general level, what’s going to happen next.

As for establishing what is different about Ozma, as opposed to other post-apocalyptic science-fiction adventures, the viewer is given small hints throughout this first episode as to what this world could possibly be comprised of, and what exactly our protagonist, Sam Coyne, has gotten himself into. It’s a solid effort from Ozma’s first episode, and I personally cannot wait to see more of this show.

vucubcaquix: Lack of nostalgia does not preclude one from deriving enjoyment from this first part of six episodes. I have to admit that I have even less experience than my partner with Leiji Matsumoto’s work, but the work stands on its own as a call back to the science fiction serial style of storytelling emphasizing high adventure and over the top archetypes of characters.

The opening minute did a wonder on appealing to my sense of adventure, as the grandiose music and stark visuals were accompanied by a stern narration that didn’t elide the sense of desperate hope beneath. The world is in trouble, the oceans have vanished, and life clings perilously on. But that’s just the point, in a story that’s couched in post-apocalyptic imagery and nihilistic environmentalism life hangs on.

We follow the protagonist, Sam, and the mysterious girl he saves in the desert, Maya, back to the port where Sam’s crew is based out of. It’s here where we can get a sense of the vibrancy and tenacity of the life that remains despite the tenuousness of the environment. Not only is there still life here, but there is still fun. This is in no small part due to the charmingly dated character designs in Ozma.

How dire can things get when we still have folks like him around?

I may have used the word dated, but the designs are not necessarily stuck in the past. While the facial designs for Ozma’s females retain Leiji Matsumoto’s characteristic wispy and dream-like qualities, the costumes have been updated to include modern conceits like the zettai ryouiki. I see these populating a used-future setting where laser rifles exist alongside animal drawn carts all animated in a curiously smooth blend of traditionally-drawn cells and modern CGI. Ozma’s disparate parts coalesce into a whole that doesn’t jar the viewer’s suspension of disbelief at any given time, but revels in its own anachronism and charismatically pulls the audience along for the adventure in store.

The anachronism of Ozma is a feat that we are pretty lucky to be witness to, and I get the sense from the energy and vibrancy of the characters and storytelling that the creative crew themselves are glad to see this project is alive. After all, what are the odds of a thirty year-old script being dusted off and revived and given all of the modern treatment? Especially in what many consider to be a very desolate climate indeed.

Further Reading:

Animekritik is a huge Leiji Matsumoto fan, and will be able to tell you about all of the references that we more than likely have missed. Check out his post here.


Filed under Colloquia, Editorials, First Impressions, Ozma, Ozma, Ozma

6 responses to “Colloquium: Ozma Episode One

  1. animekritik

    I guess I’m so used to Leiji stuff I thought nothing of the chef character, but he seems to be the talk of the town :D

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: I really loved what you had to say re: the lizard eggs and the chef’s character. It was an interesting detail that, yet again, reinforces the nature of the world that Sam and Co. occupy. Meanwhile, Bynas is by far my favorite. I’m not-so-secretly in love with her.

      vucubcaquix: It’s weird to think about, and a little sad too if you think TOO hard about it, but the character designs really ARE a fundamental draw to the show. I insinuated the “desolate climate” at the end to address the fact that a portion of the anime watching audience really is turned off by modern designs and philosophies, the moe if you will, and the initial presentation of this show does wonders to kind of dispel whatever reservations the older crowd may have for this.

  2. I have even less experience with Leiji Matsumoto than the both of you (though I know what he’s created), but I really enjoyed ep 1 a lot. I have to admit though, I didn’t think you guys would talk about this! Glad you are of course.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      vucubcaquix: Well there’s not too much to say honestly. We just wanted to be another voice in the crowd that urges folks to give the show a shot, because we honestly were quite taken by it.

      ajthefourth: We will talk about anything but probably not everything, that strikes us! Haha. Seriously though, I loved this first episode and really want to urge others to at least give it a chance.

  3. The anachronism hits pretty hard when we see orders to flip engines to full capacity and there’s a man in the engine room turning some manual values, looking like the same stuff I use to turn on the water outside my house. Form and function aside, I was weary early on but find the show something to look forward to. This should be fun.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: I was weary too, if only because I wasn’t sure if one needed required Leiji Matsumoto viewing in order to understand this. Fortunately, one does not!

      As for the anachronism present, another reason that I think it stands out as much as it does is due to the fact that the story is fairly standard and direct. I’m excited for this specifically, because I don’t mind well-worn stories as long as they are executed well. I have high hopes for Ozma’s execution.

      vucubcaquix: Man, you totally caught something I did not. I didn’t even notice the man in the engine room, I was too busy getting caught up in the moment and fist-pumping their grand escape.

      I don’t think I shared the same wariness though. Unless I find the premise to be blatantly offensive to me (Lotte’s Toy) I tend to be rather optimistic with new shows and new seasons. They always excite me because as Emily says, no matter how well-worn the story may be, if well-executed there’s always something to take out of it.

      Let’s go catch us a sand whale.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s