Megazone 23 - Anime Reviews - AniDB (2023)

The 80's - the era of witty grit, biting sex and commentary (sometimes literally and figuratively), and produced many, many templates for future classics/cult hits.
One of which was made by the uber-brilliant Nishiguro - who has a title rivaling Tezuka's "God of Manga"; "The Director of LoGH.... and also Macross". He does brilliant job of bringing over several typical 80's caricatures and their overall fast-paced, rebelliousness and fusing it with acceptable sci-fi vs. commentary. Unfortunately, due to him wanting new talent to fill the hole for his creative talent, all subsequent installments lack the inquisitive nature of the characters, the thorough grittiness of the setting's effect on them, and there's no linking theme that is consistently carried across. For each element I will explain each's appeal, effectiveness, and quality - long standing or temporary. Megazone 23 may be just another angst-ridden, exploitative Hollywood-inspired flick flipping the bird to everything it "could've been", but very few anime actually feel this constructed.

Story: 7/10 (The central premise's execution alone is enough to make it noteworthy; the more complicated, the more derivative)
Part 1's story...

...has remnants of the typical bad-boy, playboy who loves bikes, great machines, and close buddies with similar interests coming across a gov. secret that is much, much more than it seems. The vastness of this secret and the discovery of how vast and deep is told not only with care, tension, and with a genuine feel of curiosity, but with the intelligence to never let it overstep the characters involved. The main guy's best friend gets brutally whacked when he hands over a prototype motorbike that definitely feels like Akira - much like the rest of plot feels like; the difference is that this bike is a mecha. As problematic as this sounds this deet, like the setting, never erodes the characters' intellect but I'd be lying if I said I didn't raise a few eyebrows as the science got more intruding.

(Video) [ANIME OVA] Tetsuwan Birdy [EPISODE 4/4][PART 1/3]

Being that Part 1 breaks over an hour, a typical watcher of anime can look at that fact and realize two things: 1. Nothing will probably resolved. 2. The next 2 eps are plenty to do so.
The question is: Do they? Well..... yes and no. But an even bigger question is: Does Part 1 need it, answers I mean? No it doesn't.
Because Part 2...

has Ichiro Itano at the helm (the King of Splatter Gore) and demonizes the youth spirit to going beyond rebelliousness and even Tarantino-brand exploitation but an attitude assault that, despite still being awfully smart with its presence, suffers from a lack of time to just making an impression. What's so annoying about this change is simply the lack of subtlety; the characters typically behave like seedy preteens who lash at any sign of healthy comfort but there's enough camaraderie to still make it thematic, just with more... hate. External sci-fi plot details intrude much more which confuses genuine intentions. Good news is that the ending of Part 2 does two things that excuses itself to exist beyond being a "Hammy Part 1": 1. It eulogizes both Part's rebellious nature - effectively moralizing at the best place possible. 2. Adds a greater sense of closure than Part 1.

Not a perfect ending but it finalizes Ishiguro's promise, if just that. If only...
...Part 3...

...didn't exist at all. It's not that it's actually horrible, just horribly unnecessary. I wanted to think of it as a sort of epilogue or testament to Part 1&2's 80's youth spirit making their marks instead of supporting bigwig's, but there's nothing like that here. Nothing - the mood, style, character format, integrity, or even overall atmosphere - remains here. It certainly was intriguing to see how humanity could handle another conspiracy situation with a wider "Internet"-esque array of knowledge and understanding of the last two Parts. The secret is out and understood with some good time passed so it's understandable that the whole feel would change but the direction is all-too similar. Despite having two full episodes, a new cast of characters (with a surprise one that makes you shrug than jump), and all of them falling into places that you know too well given the predecessors, watching this pan out eventually becomes a chore as everything succumbs to the famous Sequel Syndrome (taking out the freshness and dumbing down everything with complicating changes that does little to make it stand on its own). I'm not going to get into deets with this one because it all circumvents back to a familiar climax without familiar feelings.

Part 1's ending actually ends with a greater amount of satisfaction because the characters are exposed to so much that it causes revalutation to everything they've taken for granted. Think of it as being the first Matrix movie but with no head-linkage to anything, the government playing a "necessary evil"-role mirroring today's governments - if not past government's actions indefinitely leaving the characters in a typical fashion of being overwhelmed but still choosing to brave.

Characters: 5/10 (Well-used and subtle in small doses; too stupid as the franchise goes on)
A big question probably being asked is why I haven't gotten into character dynamics if much of the praise rests so much on it. That's an easy one because these characters are too broadened. Either they grow too similar as per typical Hollywood flicks go, which means that they aren't typical stupid whiny brats but sophomoric manboys who believe in themselves just enough to make themselves look like geniuses next to shonen leads of today. Mind you, I'm still talking about Part 1&2 as only 3 characters matter enough to establish my claim:
* The main badboy with a heart of gold and a sense of justice - his change in attitude and brief reflections aren't
* The main gov. head who wants people to know that he's doing the right thing
* The saucy heroine who absorbs the consequences of the above mentioned.
So... very broad and very well tooled - for better or worse. In the midst of better refined sci-fi anime like Zegapain (which makes better use of every single characterization and expands upon themes), RahXephon, NGE, and more.

Art: 6/10 (Not OVA quality but evocative of what it wants and mixes up per Parts... at least 2 anyway)
Having the character designs be the same as Macross was a good choice befitting the tragic manliness and can excuse the melodrama if you're not a fan of it. As for the artistic rendering, the animation feels brisk, the cinematics are bold and vast, and action nicely transitioned, even having weight and effect to the bystanders fitting easily into gritty 80's atmosphere. The rendering is poor during bike chases, building destruction, or otherwise when things get very detailed or neckbreak fast. Ishiguro did okay with this approach when he did Macross, but he has an OVA budget and years of experience; this is a lukewarm effort at best, an eyebrow raiser at worst.
Itano's hand feels more raw and erratic; the gore gets obtusely disgusting or cartoonishly OTT. The character designs revamped realism takes away poignancy, replacing it with ugly smugness. It's all extreme which makes it unique and different, which makes it separate from Part 1. This gritty realism even assists the climax's reflectiveness creating a surprising finish.
Part 3 has even more scattered animation consistency leaking into just basic character rendering no matter how tense or relaxed a moment is... and this Part was made in the late 80's!

Music: 6/10 (Effective, professional, if a little too quaint; insert songs rival the best sad 80's anime songs)
Music is done by Shiro Sagisu who keeps things heavy during the moody, steamy, and otherwise passionately humane moments. Shiro's sparse involvement within the anime medium is mostly during epic tension moments, or reflectively poignant scenes. His efforts work the best when things slow down a bit and absorb what's happened before succumbing to them... or engaging against them. Simple on paper, yes I know, but it's an orchestral effort you can easily take for granted when compared to the bubbly, bouncy, vid game pieces that bombard the ears nowadays. And it's not even him that carries the melancholic 80's beauty but several insert songs.

Value: 3/10 (One good idea ill-used isn't news anymore... *looks at 2012 anime roster*)
Megazone can't go down in history because its eclectic mix is handled smartly to not be pretentious but short - and mishandled - enough to just make an impression = Not enough to really make an impact to the medium thanks to previously mentioned titles above. The sequels, ironically, are what make it an unusual anime as each one are unique experiences revolved around familiar themes. At best, you can have 3 ways to attack a general sci-fi premise; at worst, you'll want to know how (and why) they kept this OVA alive.

Enjoyment: 7/10 (Keeping things blockbuster action, it's the best effort shown)
Despite all I've said, Megazone is scarcely boring and, in fact, never seems to risk a chance when things could = It's downfall in sophisticating its potential brilliance. Despite character development being happenstance or dragged out, or flat-out being suggested, the OVA's focus is always the chasing down the "who's and why's" behind everything in a coming-of-age briskness that endures quite well against most. The animation can flounder the intensity when it comes, but there's always something to boost or ready it. So, yeah, it's pretty fun... but I wouldn't watch it again.

Final Thoughts:
Not a groundbreaking title, but a sturdy piece of harsh, multi-expressed rebelliousness that goes down easy. There's ample curiosity in the sequels but it spoils everything just enough to make Megazone a disappointing promise that sounded too good.

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