Title: Megazone 23
Companies: Victor Entertainment
Format: 1 OVA
Dates: 9 Mar 1985
Synopsis: Typical lowlife punk Yahagi Shogo finds himself almost running over an attractive girl by the name of Akanaka Yui, whom he immediately takes a liking to; and the rest is history. Later that night, his friend Shinji offers him a peek at an unusual armored motorbike, a prize which Shogo ends up stealing when a gang of hired goons comes to reclaim it. He makes it out alive though Shinji is not so lucky. Witnessing his friend’s death, Shogo is determined to discover what is so special about his new ride, a journey that prompts him to discover that the world he lives in is considerably less real than he would have ever imagined.
Mature Content: Used appropriately.
Characters: Worldly and irrational; otherwise known as “believable”.
Plot: Incomplete on a large scale, satisfying on the small.
Style: Welcome (back) to the 80s.
Ah the 1980s. Beyond bad haircuts, government Star Wars, and Atari. I don’t know anything about them. What I do know is probably one massive generalization for the decade, but even when this movie was made, that’s exactly what it was; a forced anachronism, a world trapped in time, and The Matrix fourteen years before The Matrix even existed.
Being the first truly successful OVA, Megazone 23 takes full advantage of its format. It carries its use of mature content with pride and all for the better. This applies to the copious amount of sex and violence, though what is exposed is more about the world than the privileges that come with the “R” rating. The world is shown intact, with all the scum and degenerates left uncensored. This is best shown with the series protagonists like Shogo and Yui. While good people, they are shallow, unruly, and not above using sex as a bargaining chip to get ahead in life. Humanity is shown in a whole array of lights from the willingness to help each other through and through to being able to stoop to the lowest level with nothing but the worst of intentions in mind. Reasons and actions vary from person to person; however, one thing that remains the same is that every action, no matter how good or bad, is carried out in the purest of selfishness, a trait no one can realistically overcome.
As stated earlier, Megazone is essentially The Matrix, albeit with less technobabble and more transforming motorcycles. Aside from the basic premise, the story also takes a look at which reality one is willing to chose, and by extension willing to fight for. Much of the drama comes from the juxtaposition between the world Shogo knows and reality. Even if the world is false, he and everyone else in it is real, and their experiences are just as authentic. Whether his decision is selfish, spiteful, and/or shortsighted, it’s not hard to think that maybe you would have made the same decision, and for the same reasons. As he stands up for the world he chooses, the plot comes to a rather interesting conclusion. To not spoil anything, I’ll just say that while the story is left unfinished overall, it comes to its logical conclusion in an appropriate, bittersweet, and overall satisfying manner.
In a sense it’s a little hard to simply label Megazone as just a mecha or an action thriller. While that is its genre technically, it does not limit itself to a niche or end up alienating other viewers. This OVA comes from the same vein of interpersonal relationships and human study as Macross, which probably comes from both being directed by Ishiguro Noburo, so some top notch characterization is to be expected. In addition to this, the genius behind Megazone, Aramaki Shinji who is also the director of Appleseed, manages to make the story philosophical without being overbearing. But even if existentialism and dualism are not one’s cup of tea, Megazone 23 is brimming with style, so it’s hard not to be drawn in by the whole experience, even if the fashion does suck.
The Rating: 8
Reviewed by: Kavik Ryx