Title: Space Runaway Ideon aka Legendary Giant God Ideon aka Densetu Kyojin Ideon
Format: 39 Episodes
Dates: 8 May 1980 – 30 Jan 1981
Synopsis: Far into the future, humans have mastered the capability of interstellar travel, and they now have taken the initiative of colonizing other worlds. Among these planets is Solo, where a small archaeological team discovers the remains of a previous civilization. However, also exploring the universe is the humanoid race known as the Buff Clan. Seeking the legendary Ide that the Earthlings have excavated, the Clan massacres the inhabitants of Solo, or as they call it, Logo Dau. Utilizing the technology left behind on Solo, a small group of colonists escape death and set course for Earth, protected and tested by the powerful and mysterious machine, the Ideon.
Animation: Varies from terrible to artistically beautiful.
Action: Boring early on, but improves drastically.
Progression: Horrendously slow, though picks up momentum.
Story: Interesting and riveting.
Ending: Disappointing, sort of…
For fun, I sometimes watch old anime openings, going as far back as the ‘70s, and just laugh my ass off. My favorite examples would have to be Voltes V, Getter Robo, and Zambot 3. In each instances, the lyrics speak of truth, justice, and the odd numbered amount of machines that make up that toy you oh so want. Such total cheesiness limits the old titles that anime fans know about to Captain Harlok, Space Battleship Yamato, and Tomino Yoshiyuki’s Gundam. The third one in particular avoided pitfalls with a more timeless and less trendy look to it. It is probably then assumed that that’s it until Macross. Though before that, said director Tomino picked out one more groundbreaking needle in our haystack of convention. That needle, while not that obvious at a first glance, would be the Ideon, or otherwise, the proto Evangelion.
In order to better understand Ideon, it may be better to describe its negatives before hand. From start to finish, this series has some crazy disco vibes, emitting in high frequencies from protagonist Yuki Cosmo’s huge red afro. In fact, most people resemble someone out of a crappy sci-fi flick. The Buff Clan uniform reminds me of Flash Gordon or The Jetsons. Sad to say, this does not change, not bad, but it’s a problem when looking at the series’ lack luster beginning. Ideon begins horrendously slowly and has quite a few genuinely awful episodes here and there. Even for 1980, the animation probably looked rough and disgusting. Worse, is that being a mech anime, action is vital, and a 100 meter tall robot fighting enemies of fractional heights is not that exciting. It could understandable that this series was cut short four episodes from this evidence. Luckily, this is only part of the story.
What is most fortunate is that when the story improves it all worth it. In the second thirteen episodes, the animation goes from bad to good. What is very interesting is that how much giant, mobile ass the Ideon is kicks is directly proportionate to how exciting the battles are. Due to the sheer size of the machine, the actual fights are dull and slow moving. Total massacres adds to the effect of the story, but I’m not going to ruin what happens. Let’s just say that some non earth object in our solar system is spammed to death. At this part of the story, the animation becomes quite impressive with an almost artistic touch to it. All this does justice at perhaps the saddest moment in the entire series, which leads me to Ideon’s strongest point: its underlying plot.
Even with low production values, if there is one thing director Tomino can do, it’s telling a good story. During the first quarter, when the Giant God was not that interesting a plot device, the series kept me in addressing the cultural conflict between Terran Humans and the Buff Clan, among the best of these being the perspective on the white flag. Interesting enough as this was, reaching the half way point, the mysteries of the Ideon were finally explored as they discovered its “spamming” powers. I never had too great a connection with any of the characters, but it was cruel to learn that the fates of the Solo refugees was sealed. Held by the Ideon, and chased by those who sought its limitless power, they are sorrowfully the true Space Runaways.
Unfortunately, as the story reached its grandiose climax, the show was cut four episodes short leaving viewers with an incomplete ending with a half-hearted explanation. The final episode was great, but there was obviously more to the plot that had to discussed first. This conclusion would have been a total disappointment if it weren’t for Tomino returning to Ideon two years later to give the fans the real ending, and with that, the whole series was worth it for those 90 minutes in theaters across Japan. Overall, a cheesy shell and low quality make this seem like a throwaway anime, but under this is one of the most gripping space operas of all time. On its own, I highly suggest watching it; however, just to get to the movie – which will be discussed in another review – I can’t recommend it enough.
The Rating: 7
Reviewed by: Kavik Ryx