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.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.
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.