Megazone 23

video sleeve

Official Blurb:

"In a far future Earth scarred by environmental damage, a sprawling, utopian technometropolis called Eden is sealed away from the fragile ecosphere, governed by the E.X. Bureau and the semi-religious Bishop Won Dai's SYSTEM. Eiji Takanaka, a former computer hacker, or "netjacker" turned hotshot virtual-reality gameplayer, is plucked from the video arcades and his blossoming romance with the shy Ryo, when his skill in piloting qualifies him for the Garland program."

"Plunged into a web of power-politics and intrigue, Eiji crosses paths with the mysterious Sion, discovering a secret plot by E.X.'s rivals, the Orange Amusements corporation, to break SYSTEM's monopoly on the Eden population. But Eiji finds an even greater destiny awaits him, a destiny thousands of years old, where the awakening of EVE, dormant for millennia, signals the rebirth of Eden."

"Caught in the crossfire between the forces of E.X., Orange and Sion's rebel netjackers, Eiji must stop the conflict or face the destruction of mankind's last hope!"

Director:         Shinji Aramaki/Ken'ichi Yatagai
Character Design: Hiroyuki Kitazune/Haruhiko Mikimoto
Copyright:        Victor/Artmic/A.I.C./Jasrac

VHS version:
Language:         English
Label:            Manga Video
Running time:     100 mins
Certificate:      12
Catalogue no:     MANV 1083
Price:            £13.99
Release Date:     5th June 1995


Now, I have to admit to being something of a mecha fan - its sort of a prerequisite for the job <grin> - so I was looking forward to seeing Megazone 23 (now that's pronounced two three not twenty-three). Id already been warned that this was not Megazone 23 Part 1 (the stuff used in the Robotech: The Movie hatchet job for those of you who have seen it), but I was a little surprised to see that it was actually both sections of Part 3 rather than any of the earlier story.

To get over this, a recap of 'what has gone before' (using unrelated footage from Part 3) is included at the start of the tape, and unlike Dangaio, Part 3 of Megazone is a self contained story (well, almost - I'll come back to that). To cut a long story short, the basics of Parts 1 & 2 are as follows: The original Megazone was one of a number of colony ships sent away from a dying Earth, with the transported population fooled into thinking they were still on a planets surface by VR technology under the control of the ships super computer. The protagonists of this 'ship in space' story eventually discover the true nature of their 'city' and return to Earth.

This brings us to the start of Part 3. It is many years since the Megazone returned to Earth, although people are still waiting for the 'all clear' to recolonize the planet. The population lives in Eden city, administered by the EX Bureau, although their control is contested by Orange Amusements and rebels under the control of the mysterious Shion. Enter our hero, Eiji Takanaka , a hot-shot games player and hacker, who has just been accepted as an employee of EX. The core of the story is Eiji's discovery of the truth behind the Megazone, and reason for the actions of the EX Bureau, Orange Amusements and the mysterious Bishop Won Dai. All in all a rip-roaring story of deceit, corruption, jealousy, treachery and transforming motor bikes (did I forget to mention that bit?). And of course there's Eve (designed by Haruhiku Mikimoto) - the original 'virtual idol'. Or is she?

The animation quality is variable. Sometimes it's fine, but at others there are noticeable flaws, both in the animation and in the quality of the artwork on each individual cell. Similarly the voice acting is patchy, with the American accents often lacking any real feeling (especially Eiji's gang). Much of the story has been done better both before and since. The good guys who aren't. The friend who goes bad. The good bad guys. The love triangle (Eiji, Ryo and Eve). You get the picture. The hotchpotch story tends to wander, cutting between Eiji, EX, Orange and Shions group, and the absence of Parts 1 & 2 remove a lot of the impact from Eves appearance and from the end of the film.

Would I buy it? Before I saw it, I'd have said yes. However, having seen the release version I have a number of reservations. I'd still probably say yes, only after I'd exhausted other recent mecha releases like Patlabor and Orguss 02. [Chris Hartford]