The last in this look of the lesser-known anime which I came across when shopping locally returns us to the “mecha” genre of large bipedal fighting machines.
Detonator Orgun was a three-part Original Video Anime (OVA) that was released between 1991 and 1993. Each of the episodes is around 50 minutes long. However, when it was released in this country it was decided to merge all three episodes together to make one film that was two-and-a-half hours long, which is rather excessive for what it was.
The story is set in 2297 AD and is set in the seemingly utopian Artificial City 5, which is protected by the Earth Defence Force. However, student Tomoru Shindo is bored with his live, spending his time playing truant and going to museums to delve into his passion of flying. In his dreams, which can be enhanced by using modern technology, he dreams of taking to the air, but his dreams are also haunted by a mecha named Orgun appearing in them. Tomoru also encounters a genetically engineered scientist from the EDF, Prof. Youko Kanzaki, who he begins to have feelings for. One of her jobs involves working with the remains of an Orgun mecha.
One day at work Youko discovers another mecha has crash landed into the city. The EDF try to fight it off, but are beaten by it. Then things change when Youko is able to rebuild the Orgun, which breaks free from her lab. Orgun then encounters Tomoru, and like in his dreams Tomoru joins with the mecha to fight the invader, and together they defeat it. During the battle Tomoru gains the Orgun’s memories and learns that together they must protect the Earth from an invading alien mecha army.
Out of all the second-hand obscure released I have recently covered in this column, Detonator Orgun has been the best of them. Firstly, because of the length of the series there is plenty of time to develop the plot and the characters, especially the lead character Tomoru. You invest more time in this series than you do with the likes of Landlock (No. 133), Tokyo Revelation (No. 134) and Kai Doh Maru (No. 135). It has plenty of good animation for the time, from the futuristic city to the construction of the mecha itself.
There are some issues however, primarily with the dub. You can only watch this with an English dub, which in the UK was rather poorly done. It is also probably best to watch this by breaking the series down back into its three individual episodes and having a break between each one, rather than watch the entire thing in one go. The other slightly worrying aspect of the show is while Tomoru loves flying, he does show it in an odd way: by wearing a jacket that is in the same style as that worn by the German Luftwaffe in World War II.
While it is not as notable as other mecha OVA such as Gunbuster (No. 24), Detonator Orgun has a charm of its own that is worth looking into if you get the chance.
Detonator Orgun is available on second-hand DVD from Manga Entertainment.