THEM Anime Reviews
Home Reviews Extras Forums
AKA: 伝説巨神イデオン (Densetsu Kyojin Ideon)
Genre: Space opera/sci-fi
Length: Television series, 39 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: Currently unlicensed in North America. Formerly licensed by Section 23 Films through its Maiden Japan print.
Content Rating: 13+ (Warfare, deaths, pretentious speeches.)
Related Series: The Ideon: A Contact (movie), The Ideon: Be Invoked (movie)
Also Recommended: Robotech/Macross, something from the Gundam continuum, Vandread, Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Notes: Created by Tomino Yoshiyuki, who also created Mobile Suit Gundam.

This anime was originally planned for 43 episodes, but due to low ratings, it was canceled at episode 39. However, after its cancellation, it steadily gained a cult following among mecha anime fans, who petitioned Sunrise to release the four unreleased episodes in some form. Two years later, Sunrise ended up compiling these four unreleased episodes into the movie Be Invoked, which played as a double feature with A Contact, a movie-length recap of the show.

Space Runaway Ideon


Human beings on the planet Solo are investigating ancient artifacts when they come across a group of mysterious vehicles. However, they are being spied upon by another alien race, and when they discover what the earthlings have found, they decide to pursue with the intention of attacking the earthlings.

This awakens the ancient Ideon, a battle robot that is created when the three vehicles combine, and the ensuing battle eventually forces the earthlings to flee with the aliens in pursuit.


When it comes to checking out older anime titles, neither of us tend to make a habit of approaching the subject with any particular apprehension. Both of us, despite our general difference in anime tastes, don't put too much stock on whether a show might be looked upon as ancient by today's standards. A good show is a good show, end of story.

That being said, we already knew Space Runaway Ideon was going to be something.... special.... before we set out on this particular journey. A very doinky kind of special, if you catch my drift.

To the show's defense, it takes quite a few episodes for the warning bells to REALLY start chiming. With a length of 39 episodes, we estimate that around half of it is just really, really goofy sci-fi that tries very hard to be Macross to a certain extent. (Editors note: One... erm, eagle-eyed reader reminded me that Ideon does actually predate Macross by around two years. I could have sworn I checked that, but obviously I didn't. Much egg in face for me. - Stig.)

Now, this show did have some potential to be good. The plot certainly sounded interesting, with alien invasions, a powerful robot, and fugitives forced to flee their planet and fight the aliens. Unfortunately, this plot is executed very badly, and we never get to learn more about the characters and their situation because it seems that in EVERY SINGLE DOINKING EPISODE THERE'S A FIGHT SCENE! In the end, many of the characters never progress beyond basic stereotypes: Cosmo is The Teen Pilot, Deck is The Annoying Sidekick, Kasha is The Girl Who Yells A Lot, Karala is The Alien Woman Who Falls in Forbidden Love With The Enemy, and so forth. Many characters are almost forgotten entirely, except for some scenes in later episodes. Oh well, at least they've got hilarious names.

And with names like Bes, Karala, Rukuku, Mayaya, Gurimade Abadede, Fard (yes, FARD!) and, we kid you not, Deck Afta and Kitty Kitten (pronounched "Kitchy Kitchen"), it had us wondering whether they put the "X number of monkeys with typewriters, Y amount of time" theory and just went with whatever the monkeys had typed up by the end of the day after a furious key-smashing session.

Even the mecha had unbelievably silly names, like Dogg Mack (with co-pilot P. Diddy) and ZIGG Mack, which made us suspect the leader of the Buff Clan eventually turning out to be this guy....

And yes, their clan name is "the Buff Clan", which basically consists of a group of Elvis impersonators if their hair and dress code is anything to go by. In a normal show, they might have been considered the antagonists. But then, Space Runaway Ideon is anything BUT normal. With the Ideon (powered by a mysterious energy called, surprise, "Ide") in the hands of the earthlings, the Buff clan has no other option but to attack, because they are SAMURAI (and diplomacy is obviously not an option, even though the show quite clearly shows that the Buff clan are no Zentraedi in the sense that they know of nothing but war.)

Hence, the show is basically one confrontation after another as the Buff clan spends the entirety of the show continuously attacking the human beings aboard the main ship. And even at the first half of the show, we get served one self-righteous scene after another. Human beings can't avoid wars, and any populated planets the Ideon comes across will be dragged into the confrontations one way or another, often with tragic results.

And then, somewhere between episode 20 and 30, the whole feel of the show change. If you're asking to what degree, then that would be how Space Runaway Ideon eventually went on to become the inspiration to another well known show of the rather apocalyptic variety, namely Neon Genesis Evangelion.

It's a rather blatant change too, insofar as the death toll starts to include known support characters and not just nameless redskirts. Not to mention how dark and gloomy the whole show gets. At one point, the leaders of a planet the Ideon passes actually uses Bes' parents in an attempt to guilt-trip Bes into giving up the Ideon to the millitary of said planet. And if you think THAT sounds completely ridiculous, it's even worse when you actually see it happen.

Finally, we must mention the design of the titular Ideon. For such a "powerful robot" that is frequently called the "Giant God", it certainly doesn't look powerful, magnificent, or godlike...It looks like it was made up of RV trucks! Not only that, but it has some sort of goofy "visor"-looking thing on its head that flashes random lights. It got worse when we noticed the booster and gun placements of the thing. Boosters were conveniently located in the armpits of the Ideon and the main cannon seems to be located in the crotch region. It took a while to find out too, seeing as the Ideon apparently likes to fistfight -- punching, slapping and kicking enemy craft where it really hurts. And I do mean REALLY hurts, if the vicious crotch-kick we saw once was any indication.

We could also go on about the amusing appearances of the enemy mecha, but we won't. Instead, we'll show you this....

Is there a mecha gynecologist in the house, because man... have I got that burning feeling.

....yeah. The animation isn't too shabby, I guess. It's dated, which is to be expected from a show made in the eighties, particularly one running for nearly forty episodes before it ran out of funds. The music is hilariously cheesy, with the "hey, komrade" stylized intro with the Ideon punching its way up from the ground for some reason and the staff doing corny jumps and poses. Most of the in-series themes were fairly forgettable, though.

For all its unintentional hilarity, the show is pretty damn dark and dreary. Apparently, the director of the show earned himself a nickname we will go into in the review of the second movie. Suffice to say, it's a painful watch in either situation, and one that cannot be recommended unless you thought the end of Neon Genesis Evangelion was the pinnacle of genius.

What can we say? It's talking to the 'humans are the scum of the universe' crowd, and that ain't either of us.Stig Høgset and Jennifer Berman

Recommended Audience: There are warfare and there are deaths. It's not too violent, though, so I guess teens would be fine with it.

And that's pretty much all there is about the show.

Version(s) Viewed: digital source.
Review Status: Full (39/39)
Space Runaway Ideon © 1980 Sunrise
© 1996-2015 THEM Anime Reviews. All rights reserved.