Nagisa was just a typical schoolgirl who wanted to be a pro wrestler. (Yeah, once upon a time, even Japan had one of those phases.) One day, while walking to school, she meets this strange alien girl with pointy ears who tells her, "I love you." And then the other aliens invade and they're not quite as friendly. (What do you expect from Cthulhu?) And Nagisa must become the human half of the giant robot that Iczer-One (her erstwhile companion) pilots. Whether she likes it or not. (Did I mention she has to be out of her clothes to do this?)
Iczer-One may have a place in anime history, but I'm not sure whether that's such a good thing. Yes, it was one of the first semi-popular OAV series made, drawing inspiration (and directly pulling some names) from H.P. Lovecraft's novels. As such, it was an early foray into the horror genre.
If it had been a *good* foray, I wouldn't be quite so cynical about it. But no, Iczer-One wasn't that good to begin with, and has only gotten worse with time. For starters, there's the totally inexplicable (but predictable) injection of the whole lesbian alien thing, which was probably inspired by Cream Lemon and Project A-ko. Yeah, yeah, we could dismiss it as fan service, except that it's apparently integral to the plot. (Okaayy...)
What makes things worse here is that the main character, the creatively named super-babe Iczer-One, lavishes her attention on Nagisa Kanou, who happens to be an irritating, whiny schoolgirl. All she does through this entire series is whine, and whine, and whine some more. Supposedly, Nagisa wants to grow up to become a female pro-wrestler, but even in the dark ages of the mid-1980s, I don't recall that career having a whole lot to do with ineffectual whining.
I think the only reason she's remotely tolerable to the audience is because she's naked more often than not!
Well, actually, no, Nagisa really is the worst anime character ever made.
Add in the scenes of the frolicking lesbian bad-girls, and the cheese factor rockets beyond Wisconsin-level. (What the heck, "Big Gold"? Who *named* these people?)
The animation is beyond creaky (though horror titles don't tend to age particularly well - remember those '80s slasher flicks?) and the music is pretty forgettable. The plot? Also pretty forgettable, too. The villains? Apart from the evil icky tentacle things (which paved the way for all those hentai flicks), there's basically too much emphasis on the whole "Ooh! They're all lesbians!" angle to take the whole lot of them seriously. Heck, not just the villains, the whole frickin cast! Seriously, Iczer-One, Iczer-Two, Iczer-Seventy-four, Big Gold, even Nagisa -- the whole lot are portrayed as the kind of "lesbian" you would see in a crappy Marilyn Chambers movie on USA Up All Night. The writers obviously know as much about female homosexuality as tropical fish know about the NHL.
Mind you, the violence in this OAV series is rather graphic, and Iczer-One does get creepy in more than the "eww, the creator's a pervert" sense of creepy. As horror, it does manage to succeed in being suspenseful at times, but the execution is so haphazard, that by the end, you don't remember much of it. Even the giant robot action that crops up halfway through manages to be largely forgettable, except for the fact that Nagisa remains naked as a jaybird throughout it all. (Incidentally, the "naked schoolgirl copilot" theme also shows up in other anime, most upsettingly, in Maze.)
Did I mention that, even naked as a jaybird, I truly, madly, deeply loathe Nagisa?
It's telling that they did this series over twice (as Iczer-3 and Iczelion), as this is far from Hirano Toshihiro's best work as a director. In fact, his own collaboration with his wife, Kakinouchi Narumi, on the Vampire Princess Miyu OAV series is infinitely better and more tasteful. I would advise the viewer to go see that long before thinking of watching this. I guess horror completists could give this a try, but I'm sure you'd try to pawn this off on one of your friends after buying this (like Christi did). I'm just glad I only rented it!
At least we know what (and who) is partly to blame for the whole gratuitous psycho-lesbian angle, the tentacles, and the fan service, and even the whole "suddenly I'm naked and I'm in this giant robot" cliche that shows up in anime from time to time. If you combine this title with Cream Lemon, you even sow the seeds of the entire hentai genre of anime -- Urotsukidoji and La Blue Girl owe a lot of their content to this humble, crappy little show. I'm not sure if Hirano intended Iczer-One to be remembered this way, but that's how the cookie crumbles.
In a bizarre afterword, Iczer-One was trotted out almost a decade after it originally (and justifiably) went out of print -- by Media Blasters, which seems determined to surpass Central Park Media as America's number one distributor of crappy anime. Thanks, guys!
Apart from a couple of suspenseful scenes, Iczer-One dissolves into a regrettable morass of gratuitous violence and nudity. It's bad enough to cause anime burnout, or, worse, scare beginners off the medium entirely. Oh, yeah, and there's Nagisa D: — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: Absolutely not for kids, or the sensitive. Gratuitous (and graphic) violence and tons of nudity, overshadowed by the whole "frolicking lesbian fan service" angle, which detracts even further from the story. (Gah!) I guess fans of gratuitous nudity might want to give this a try, or something, except that this tries to have an actual plot. Serious fans of anime as a medium should avoid this, though.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Partial (2/3)
Iczer-One © 1985 Kubo Shoten / AIC
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