Monday, October 7, 2013

Cyborg 009

Cyborg 009 gekijo ban: cho ginga densetsu; animated science-fiction action, Japan, 1980; D: Masayuki Akihiro, S: Kazuhiko Inoue, Banjou Ginga, Kazuko Sugiyama

The nine cyborgs, from 001 to 009, called Joe, live normal lives and have integrated into society. However, a space ship lands into the sea and an alien child, Saba, warns how the evil emperor Zoa destroyed his planet and will sooner or later arrive to conquer Earth because he wants to rule the universe. The cyborgs return back to duty and fly in a spaceship to stop that. On their way, the land on a planet and meet princess Tamara, but she and her capital are also destroyed by Zoa's army. Arriving at his space fortress, 004/Heinrich sacrifices and blows himself up to destroy it. 009/Joe goes to the Vortex, a mysterious power that created the universe, and wishes for Zoa to disappear and 009/Heinrich to resurrect. His wish is granted by the Vortex and the cyborgs return to Earth.

Entrenched firmly in naive style of the 60s anime show it was based upon, the feature length anime adaptation of Shotaro Ishinomori's "Cyborg 009" is a strange patchwork of science-fiction, adventure and superhero elements that only marginally manages to justify such a concept that avoids all storytelling rules: the impressive vibe lasts only for the first three minutes thanks to the fantastic opening depiction of the Big Bang, equipped with aesthetic images of space and colors, yet once the simplistic story starts, where the nine cyborgs go to save the universe from Zoa, it plunges into lower areas and remains there until the rather interesting finale featuring that space Vortex energy again. Overlong, too bizarre (a cyborg baby!), with over-the-top character designs, a completely unnecessary half an hour subplot involving a planet destroyed by Zoa's army (as if not enough was done to make the viewers hate the bad guy enough), burdened by a lack of humor, wit and something original, and a typical black-and-white bad guy Zoa (who just destroys planet after planet because - that's the only way he can rule the universe?), this a rump version of "Space Battleship Yamato". Still, for all its cheesy lines and standard goods vs. bad cliches, "Cyborg 009" is still easily watchable fun without ambitions, fine cinematography and animation despite its collision with naive character designs, and as such it enjoys cult status from the fans.


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