The story begins during World War 2 when the Japanese Underwater Battleship, Ra, receives a communication that Hiroshima has been destroyed by an atomic bomb.
The captain, being advised by a mysterious, oddly dressed woman named Annette, decides to take his vessel into hiding. However, before the Ra and her crew can escape they are confronted by an Allied Underwater Battleship, the Liberty. The commander of the American ship is likewise being advised by a mysterious woman, this one named Avatar.
During the ensuing battle, Annette uses her psychic powers to put Avatar, and herself, into a deep sleep. The captain evacuates Annette and his second-in-command to the surface then rams the Ra into the enemy vessel.
Fast forward to the present day. A U.N. investigation is underway in Antarctica, where an enormous black cylinder has risen from the polar ice cap and is emitting huge quantities of microwaves. Arisaka Go, the grandson of the captain of the ill-fated Ra, and his girlfriend, Ann, are part of the expeditionary force.
Their startling discovery uncovers a terrible fate for the human race and leads Go to the truth about his father's mysterious disappearance, the fate of the Ra, and the true identity of Ann.
The battle for the survival of humanity begins!
Despite its short length and myriad of World War 2 and anti-American cliches, Super Atragon does several things very well. First, as a novel adaptation, it manages to keep up a brisk pace that never lags at any particular point. The various naval and air combat scenes (although horribly one-sided in favor of the bad guys) are exciting and well rendered. The animation and character designs were also very well done for an OAV release at the time. In addition, the musical score was beautifully orchestrated and fit the mood of the show extremely well.
It's obvious from the get go that the creators of this two-part OAV really cared about the story they were telling and took great pains in its production. From the first battle between the Ra and the Liberty to the final showdown beneath the sea in part two, the pace rarely lets up and the nonstop action is sure to appeal to fans of naval combat, airplanes and strange alien technologies. The downside, however, is that Super Atragon is so short. At only two hours in length, it doesn't give enough time to really develop the main characters properly. This may be simply because the novel itself was short, I haven't read it, but it would have been nice to see a bit more of Go, Ann, Captain Hayate and even Avatar. There were so many interesting character dynamics that could have been explored, but unfortunately you get rushed through the plot so fast that there is only time to briefly touch on most of them.
That said, Super Atragon still stands on its own very well as both a work of science fiction and as an action movie. The outlandish subterranean invaders premise might put off sci-fi fans that prefer more modern tales, but I enjoyed it. I was reminded of books and movies like 10000 Leagues Under the Sea and War of the Worlds and I think that fans who enjoy these classic sci-fi adventures will enjoy Super Atragon.
Action fans, naval or aviation enthusiasts, and readers who enjoy classic science fiction will definitely want to check this out. Underwater Battleship, Ra, hasshin!
Not the best anime ever, but far from bad, especially if you like this kind of science fiction. — Jason Bustard
Recommended Audience: Should be fine for teenagers and up. Lots of people die, but most of the violence is confined to the naval and air battles. There is very brief nudity in the later half of the second OAV, but nothing gratuitous.
Version(s) Viewed: Commercial VHS (Japanese with English subtitles)
Review Status: Full (2/2)
Super Atragon © 1995 Kaitei Gunkan Production Committee
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