Anime World Order Show # 221 – It Wasn’t C-Beams Glittering Near the Tannhauser Gate, It Was Otaku Tears

We’re joined by longtime mecha enthusiast Rob Lantz as we offer up a mostly spoiler-free review of Gerald’s favorite OVA series of all time: 1988’s Aim for the Top! Gunbuster, the pro directorial debut of Hideaki Anno and one of the first subtitled anime ever legally released in the United States which is now available on Blu-Ray. It’s uh, kind of a big deal.

Introduction (0:00 – 46:55)
As a member of what he calls the second generation of American anime fandom, Rob tells us about how he discovered Japanese animation along with his forays into East Coast anime conventions starting in the mid-1990s. With the Spring 2023 anime season having just concluded, we go over what we finished up watching recently. As the Summer 2023 anime season just starting off is decidedly slim as far as offerings that appeal to us (56 shows, and maybe only 1 or 2 that seem to have potential), most of us are using the opportunity to go through some of the neverending backlog. You’ll probably want to do the same!

Rob’s Gunbuster cosplay from days of long ago [comes a legend…]. (He’s the one cosplaying Coach.)

Promo: Shoujo Sundae (10:27 – 10:58)
It’s been ages since we got one of these, so as a reminder: if you have an anime podcast that’s been running for more than 10 episodes, send us your 30-60 second promo and we’ll run it! I suppose in return you could run our promo, but it dawns on us that we only ever really made one promo which consists primarily of someone that isn’t any of us speaking. Anyway, Giana Luna and Chika Supreme are doing an ACTUAL weekly podcast in which they cover anime targeted to girls and have just finished up their rewatch of the classic shoujo series Ouran High School Host Club. Yes, we regret to inform you that the manga for Ouran is now over 20 years old and the anime is now from 17 years ago, so it’s now considered a classic. Even our review of it was from 2006.

Promo: Right Stuf Anime (46:56 – 49:13)
It’s Right Stuf’s 36th birthday sale! That means pretty much everything is on sale this month, and every day there are 24-hour Mega Deals with even deeper discounts. (If you missed one, usually you get a second chance at the end of the month when all the previous mega deals are active for a day.) Also included are manga/artbook/novel bundles, plus there are weekly contests to enter! As always, any purchases made after visiting Right Stuf from our affiliate links will grant us a small commission fee, which we’ll put towards paying for our hosting as well as our Discord Nitro. Be sure to check the AWO Discord (viewable to all, but Patreon backers can post) for details regarding our upcoming virtual panels and such!

Review: Aim for the Top! Gunbuster (49:13 – 1:50:18)
No pressure or anything, as it’s only Gerald’s favorite OVA of all time. 1988’s Aim for the Top! Gunbuster might not have been the first thing they made, and maybe this other thing from the 1990s became far more popular, and maybe in different decades the studio came to embody very different things for very different generations of anime fans, but when we think of the definitive “Gainax anime,” this is the one. The (professional) directorial debut of Hideaki Anno, practically every single person who worked on Gunbuster became a top-tier talent in their respective field. Entire books/podcasts/YouTube channels/social media accounts can be devoted to drilling down into the histories and resumes of everybody who brought this into existence, but all you have to know is that after years and years, you can once again–get this–WATCH GUNBUSTER. Because we are operating under the blind optimism that there is a generation of people out there who haven’t seen Gunbuster but have heard of its reputation, we (for the most part) do not delve heavily into the specifics of what happens in Gunbuster past the first episode or two.

Discotek has released a pretty great Blu-Ray which you can buy here, and for the first time you can watch it as well as the series that inspired its initial beginnings: Aim for the Ace!. If you’re daunted by the notion of watching a half century old cartoon made for TV, consider watching the far more lavishly animated (and far shorter) Aim For the Ace: The Movie instead.

Rob got to hang out with Noriko Hidaka once. She may have several high-profile roles, but if you’re going to get a line recital video, there is truly only one choice to make:

Rob also owns original cels from Gunbuster. Here’s a recognizable pose; be sure to shout the attack out loud!

3 Replies to “Anime World Order Show # 221 – It Wasn’t C-Beams Glittering Near the Tannhauser Gate, It Was Otaku Tears”

  1. This was a wonderful review. I’m also of the opinion that Gunbuster is the greatest OVA ever made, and your episode more than did it justice.

    I just want to add one quick thing with regards to the debate on who is responsible for the screenplay. According to a 1996 interview in Animerica, Okada says that he came up with the initial concept for Gunbuster, and then handed that concept over to Yamaga, who wrote the full screenplay. Apparently it was Yamaga’s screenplay that convinced Anno to join as director – Shinji Higuchi was going to be the original director but had to drop out, and Anno agreed to replace him after being moved to tears by Yamaga’s work. I have no idea why Okada was given credit as the screenwriter in the final product – especially because he’s always been very open in interviews about the fact that Yamaga did most of the heavy lifting. The exact same thing happened a few years later with Otaku No Video – Okada ended up being credited as the writer, even though he only thought of the initial concept. I’m not sure – it’s very strange.

  2. I think (and I think I’m right) a big reason for a lot of the unnecessary live action remakes of older animation is done because Hollywood (and live action industry in general) needs something to do, all the people who physically make movies need new projects, new jobs to keep busy and get paid.

  3. I noted the wish at the end of the latest show to hear from people who hadn’t watched Gunbuster before, so instead of commenting on this episode, and because I’m tardy, I thought I’d respond to show #218 on Arion instead.

    I first saw Arion at Toren Smith’s famous BayCon ’86 program (which, of course, was put on through the assistance of various people, as detailed in his program book), only a few months after its theatrical release in Japan. Arion is one of those anime, like Arcadia of My Youth or The Sky Crawlers, that I felt bad for not liking more, unable to quite shake the idea that I needed to do a little more work to connect with it (perhaps some people feel this way about Royal Space Force as well). I’m not sure if that idea holds up completely; because audiences are made of individuals, everything can’t be for everybody. On the other hand, something tells me that if an audience is expected not to ever have to do any work to connect with a film (I don’t mean, expected to work every single time–just not to ever have to work at all), then movies become only a matter of being personally entertained or not, with no scope for the learning or expanded horizons that may come with engagement, investigation, and discovery.

    Did YAS really assert (mentioned at 1:03:25) that Arion was not featured on the magazine covers of the day, such as Animage and Newtype…? I’m not sure about Newtype, which had at any rate was only a year old when Arion made its debut. But Arion was not only the cover story of Animage (I mean, as in, they gave it the cover image, not just a blurb on the front cover), it was their cover story three times (November 1985, February 1986, and April 1986).
    To put this in some perspective, that’s the same number of cover stories Animage gave to another notable film of 1986, Laputa.

    That Animage should give Arion extensive coverage isn’t the least surprising, as Arion, like Laputa, was closely involved with Animage and Animage’s parent company, Tokuma. The Arion manga had been serialized in Tokuma’s magazine Monthly Comic Ryu (which was also the home of Emanon by Shinji Kajio and Kenji Tsuruta). Animage’s editor at the time, Hideo Ogata (who was outgoing towards foreign fans, and who had a great personal influence on me as a teenager) received a production credit on the film, and Yasuyoshi Tokuma himself (if you haven’t read Steve Alpert’s “Sharing a House with the Never Ending Man,” please do so) was credited as Arion’s executive producer.

    I thought Clarissa’s remark about Arion’s roots in myth and the difference between making logical sense and poetic sense was insightful. As Dr. Wave said* in Giant Gorg, “You know how you’re always trying to get things to come out perfect in art because it’s real difficult in life.”

    Hoping to see you all at Otakon!


    *Actually, it was Alvy Singer.

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