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AKA: オズマ (Ozuma)
Genre: Post-acopalyptic sci-fi.
Length: OAV series, 6 episodes, 25 minutes each
Distributor: Currently streaming on crunchyroll
Content Rating: 10+ (Violence, mature elements.)
Related Series: None
Also Recommended: Captain Harlock, Queen Emeraldas, Fullmetal Alchemist, Origin: Spirits of the Past.
Notes: Based on some 30 year old material by Leiji Matsumoto.
Rating: One Star
 

Ozma

Synopsis

Saving Maya, a mysterious blue-haired girl from the land's millitary forces, Sam heads back to town, only to be immediately caught up in a power struggle between the "naturals" and the race of the "ideal children".


Review

I can't believe I was so excited about this damn show.

Oh, it was sold pretty well. In fact, they sold the HELL out of it. It was based on the works of Leiji Matsumoto (a statement I'm going to put into question -- hell, I'll drag it to court) and, if various sources is to be believed, it was made and simulcasted for the benefit of those caught up in the complete disaster in Japan in 2011, when an earthquake and the following tsunami ravaged most of the east coast of Japan, taking many lives and causing so much damage otherwise that its effects are still going to be felt years from now. It's a noble undertaking, and if anything can be taken away from this show, I'm going to give it some credit for that, as backhanded a compliment as that is going to sound like as you read on.

So why?! Why did Ozma have to turn out being so utterly terrible?! Why would a show based on material from Leiji Matsumoto, the king of spunky kids setting out on a journey of maturity, and a veritable master of making compelling space opera feel like such a slapdash waste of time?

And it's not like Ozma spent a lot of time making me feel like I was on thin ice either. The movie literally starts out with a spunky teenager sitting on top of his hoverbike, surveying the sandy area looking for Ozma when he spots a girl being chased by several large millitary vessels. He immediately revs up the bike and swoops in for the rescue, and already the plots of several Japanese RPGs are dancing in my head. He takes her to his home, where they proceed to get the whole town caught up in the problem, and stuff gets blown up but good. Later, she gets recaptured by the millitary -- I hope I didn't ruin the surprise, but spoiler: of COURSE it happens. Except she kinda-sorta returns of her own volition after signalling it so hard to the main character that I'm surprised he didn't see it coming. Then again, he's kind of a dumbass.

Actually, that's far too kind of a term to describe the sheer bullheaded, sloth-brained excuse for a Matsumoto-wannabe of a male lead. The guy spends most of the show throwing his face in the general direction of danger without as much as a second's thought, much less anything resembling a plan, and if there is no danger present, he'll astonish the audience with his amazing ability to blithedly ignore gigantic red flags. He's out looking for his brother, probably because he stole his brain before disappearing, and the most hilarious part of this show -- and probably the best example of what kind of dumptruck we're dealing with -- is the part where Maya gets re-kidnapped, and our hero sets off to rescue her. Runs off straight into the big bad's gigantic ship (through an air vent, of course) and immediately gets captured, which puts the Barnados, its captain Bainas and the rest of the crew at a rather crass disadvantage at the negotiation table. He's only superceded in this show's convulsing attempts at being funny by his would-be girlfriend, Mimei.

And you'd think that Bainas being the REAL main character of this show would make it better, right? Because unlike Sam, she's actually intelligent, and even has a bit of a badass streak in her. (I'm sure the... uh, slight resemblance to another famous Matsumoto character; Queen Emeraldas, is just a coincidence.) Of course, she, too, has her own stakes in all of this. She's on the lookout for her boyfriend/fiancee/whatever, who just so happens to be Sam's brother. And his name is, not making this up: Dick. You might disbelieve now, but oh, you'll learn. You'll learn once she starts shouting it repeatedly during her own flashback scenes in what has to be one of the most hilariously surrealistic scenes in the whole show.

Not being able to top that, the show just kind of tapers off all the way to the end. We learn what Ozma was doing, and we learn what Maya's connection to Ozma really is. And, for what it's worth, the core idea isn't entirely without merit. But still, outside of the character designs, I would very much like to know what all of this had to do with having Leiji Matsumoto's name attached to it, because Ozma might LOOK like a Matsumoto show, but it sure as hell doesn't feel like one. None of what I'd like to call "the core Matsumoto-isms" can be found in Ozma. Sam just isn't the bull-headed, but pure-hearted kid who sets out on a journey of discovery and maturity, where if he screws up somehow, he's supposed to LEARN from it. The guy is a goddamned moron. And don't even get me started on the villains of this show, the supposed "ideal children". Presented as some kind of idealized evolution of humanity, but devolving into a small group of people who are known for literally stealing the bodies of others to escape the clutches of old age, and these are the cartoonishly stock villains we are supposed to believe are the pinnacle of humanity? OK, so some of the characters and planets our heroes in Galaxy Express 999 visited could be hamhandedly tailor-made for whatever morals the episode wanted to teach the audience, but even those were lightyears away as the space-train goes compared to this asinine tripe, where the "naturals" have low-level technology and generally live in harmony with whatever is left of nature, and the "ideal children" do whatever the hell they please because they have the technology, which, as it's kind of heavily implied, is what lead to the planet being a barren wasteland.

I HOPE THIS ISN'T TOO SUBTLE FOR YOU, BECAUSE I WOULD HATE FOR ANYONE TO MISS OUT ON WHAT THIS SHOW IS HINTING AT!

And to make matters even worse, the show tries to alleviate its serious tone with whatever terrible comedy it stole from various standard romance/harem comedy shows, most of which is centered at shenanigans around sudden arrival Maya turning some heads, and Mimei of course getting jealous and in touch with her inner Shana/Louise/Taiga/other Rie Kugimiya roles out there, and doing a pretty terrible job at it. That's why I question how much involvement Leiji Matsumoto had in this. And I enforce this suspicion based on the sheer difference between the two seasons of another show based on the works (or possibly just character designs and concepts) of Leiji Matsumoto; namely Galaxy Railways. Remember that? Pretty good first season, pretty terrible second season.

In the end, I just feel betrayed. I came to watch a Leiji Matsumoto show, but I didn't really feel like I got that. It started out mediocre enough, and just got worse and worse as it went, all the way to its somewhat unsatisfactory conclusion. Add some severe pacing issues -- nearly a whole episode was dedicated to a battle scene and some kind of crisis overheating waiting game situation after that -- and it all just boils down to a huge sore you don't even want to pick at. It's got your average (but modernized) Leiji Matsumoto character designs, where the men are all either stern, handsome men or complete potatohead goofballs, while the women are all willowy beauties, even Sam's tsundere-ish tomboy would-be girlfriend. But while the art is quite pleasing to the eyes, the animation is a cavalcade of horrible cel pans and stiffly moving CG. Then again, I think I would've felt more cheated if they actually threw a budget at this pile of manure. If it's going to be this bad, it has no business looking good.

If you want to see some good Matsumoto fare, there are many, MANY other shows I could recommend, like almost anything that has "Captain Harlock" in the title somewhere. Or even the soon-to-be-rereleased Galaxy Express 999, the original TV series and an epic in its own right. (Which you can even watch on Crunchyroll if you live in the US.) Yes, it's dated, but at least it's GOOD. Hell, even Interstella 5555 is a grand story, and a real homage to one of our greatest sci-fi adventure creators of our time. Compared to that, Ozma is nothing more than an empty carcass, devoid of the soul of his work.

(Some unintentional hilarity notwithstanding, this show is just a huge waste of time, and a pretty sizable betrayal to boot. Throw it off a cliff and forget all about it.)Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: Ozma is actually pretty non-violent, but the whole concept of the body snatcher-ish villains subplot marks it unsuitable for the very youngest.



Version(s) Viewed: Crunchyroll stream.
Review Status: Full (6/6)
Ozma © 2012 GONZO/Pony Canyon/WOWOW
 
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