Tuesday, March 10, 2015

OBSCURE O.V.A.S, *Hyper-Combat Unit Dangaioh

This 3-episode series was first released on VHS in Japanese with subtitles by U.S. Renditions originally titled Dangaio, but a British dub of the last two episodes were combined into a single dubbed feature by Manga Entertainment with the first episode being presented as a special "prologue" under the full title of Hyper-Combat Unit Dangaioh, which unfortunately is the more widely available version on VHS and DVD. The OVA was directed by sci-fi anime 80s expert Toshiki Hirano, who also created Iczer-One and Megazone 23

Four powerful ESPers(an 80s term for people with psychic powers)are brought together from different corners of the universe by the rogue scientist Dr. Tarsan, who wipes their memories to be part of a special team of mecha pilots that form the giant robot Dangaioh to stop the evil space pirate Captain Garimoth and his fleet. The teenage ESPers escape Tarsan and go to Earth, the home of team member Mia Alice. But Garimoth's agent, the cybernetic Gil-Berg, follows them, and forces them to form Dangaioh to stop his destruction of a major city. The Dangaioh team then decides to go back to Dr. Tarsan and begin their training to become a more effective team against Captain Garimoth's forces. A brief encounter with some assassins working for Garimoth reclaims some of team member Lamba of her former life as a princess. But then team commander Rol takes the Dangaioh team back to his homeworld to confront some old skeletons in his closet, including some traitorous rebels that have teamed up with Gil-Berg. Dangaioh and Gil-Berg have another fight to the death, which results in Dr. Tarsan sacrificing himself to save the ESPers by warping the remains of Dangaioh to the other side of the galaxy. Even though Gil-Berg still survives and rises in Captain Garimoth's ranks.

The OVA ends on a deep cliffhanger leaving our heroes' fate up in the air. However, a sequal TV series titled Great Dangaioh that came out over a decade later picks up a few pieces of the original OVA, although at first the TV anime looks more like an Evangelion ripoff. Dangaioh also appeared in its own video game, as well as some of the Super Robot Wars titles. Aside from the stupendous robot fights and mecha designs, the inconsistency of the series and cutting out of the first OVA episode makes it slightly hard to fully enjoy this 80s escapade.

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