Wednesdays Watching Anime – Dallos

September 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

This week, we’ve got the OP for Dallos, by Namba Hiroyuki.

Yeah, this is a bit of a punt. This week’s been busy and I’ve worked through the buffer of posts that I’d made back in the spring.

Dallos is not a good anime. It’s an extremely blatant copy of Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, save for Dallos itself, a giant artifact on the moon that rests somewhere on the spectrum between ruin and demigod. It would be totally forgettable, yet another movie that’s just old-fashioned class warfare transposed to an exotic setting, except that the production ran out of money and the company was forced to divide the two-hour runtime into four episodes, sold directly to audiences on videotape, which made it the first OVA. At some point, Oshii Mamoru was brought on board to be co-director with his former mentor and boss, Toriumi Hisayuki, and there’s this anime’s second claim to fame, as an early example of Oshii’s filmmaking craft.

Neither make Dallos particularly watchable. The most interesting thing — and I apologize for spoilers, but I need something about which I can talk — is that Dallos fails to intervene meaningfully in the conflict between the lunar inhabitants and their terrestrial oppressors. Given the conviction of nearly every character in the cast that Dallos will do something sooner or later, I’m inclined to attribute this creative choice more to budgetary constraints than to subversive intent, but it’s still a neat touch in an utterly rote piece of mid-eighties sci-fi.

Still… Look, I’m not posting this OP to troll you. I think it’s legitimately good. What sounds at first like mere bombast turns out to have more than a little gravity, and the meditative pans over the massive H.R. Giger-inspired body of Dallos resonate well with it. Namba Hiroyuki did a good job there, even though his efforts were more rewarded with his later work on similar dissidents-in-space movie Armitage III over a decade later. He also contributed to last year’s Space Dandy, but I didn’t hear much of a lineage when I went back and listened to a few episodes’ soundtracks.

How does such a thing come into being? How does a jazz keyboardist, one who’d later help to found a Japanese band blending prog rock with synth pop, come to write the OP for a random anime? More importantly, how does that happen and turn out good? It’s an enigma, just like Dallos itself.

Awaken, Dallos from Dallos!

Awaken, Dallos from Dallos!

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