Sunday, August 31, 2014
:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: God Mars
Additional Links: ANN Entry, MAL Enrty
Video [Free]: Hulu
For July's Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick, I have decided to go a more obscure and old-school route, and at the end of that road is…God Mars!
Even as a huge, long-time mecha fan, I had never heard of "God Mars", much less knew that TMS Entertainment (Rose of Versailles, Lupin III, Akira, Itazura na Kiss, Yowamushi Pedal (Yowapedal)) ever made a mecha show (though I always wondered…). The 64-episode series centers on a young man named Takeru Myojin, whose strange dreams and hallucinations give way to the revelation that he is the son of a malicious emperor from another planet, sent as an infant (along with a giant robot) to destroy the planet Earth, whose expansion into space he saw as a threat.
As someone who loves the Earth and the people he long assumed were his real parents, not to mention as someone who was a member of the peacekeeping force Crusher, that does not fly with him and it is not long after that he has to tangle with assassins from his home world. He at least has his burgeoning ESP powers and Twineedle-shooting hair(!) to do battle with, but when the fighting moves from mind-based to mecha-based, his birthright bot, Gaia, soars in to the rescue. But when danger proves tough even for a giant robot, it combines with five other mysterious ones to perform the "Six God Combination" into the powerful God Mars. However, parental and identity issues are not the only problems that plague Takeru (or, by his birth name, Mars), but he must deal with unease from his once-trusting teammates as they learn about his heritage--and the fact that Gaia carries a planet-killing bomb that will explode if Takeru dies!
Based on a manga by legend Mitsuteru Yokoyama (Giant Robo, Gigantor/Tetsujin-21, Babel II), God Mars was animated in 1981, sometimes looking and acting the part in some of its visual stylings (including the technology, Emperor Zul's design, and the ever-unfulfilled "A.D. 1999" futurisms), its older visual quality, and that oh-so-80s OP. That said, it is certainly one of the better-looking and -animated mecha series from that period, featuring that solid, consistent production quality found in a number of TMS' work (and GoShogun's Hideyuki Motohashi's character designs are a treat, as always).
The series is also feels a little more thoughtful and thought-out than your typical super robot tale of that time, as it does a good job at delving into Takeru's conflict about who he is, how others are effected by the revelations surrounding him, and in how it tries to cover some inherent questions that would have been barely addressed in other shows. The ESP action is outlandish in its own right (see Takeru's hair), but it (and human-vs-human action in general) is not something you normally see in a mecha series, and it helps keep things fresh (not to mention, it's often pretty good). Sometimes the mecha action itself is not the greatest, but the consequences attached to them also help keep them interesting.
God Mars may not be the type of title that most, including young mecha fans, would give a chance right off the bat, but is a more enjoyable and entertaining than one may initially think. It's a nice title to kick back to if you got time to kill, and best of all, you can check it all out for free at Hulu.com (Japanese with English subtitles).
[NOTE: Originally posted Sept. 1, 2014. Dated for Aug. 31, 2014.)]