1986 Fuck Tha Police Biker Gang Cartoons: Megazone 23 Part 2 — Please Give Me Your Secret

As I was saying, the original Megazone 23’s success helped to open the floodgates for the OAV wave of the late 80s, and gave many Japanese animators the freedom to make the cartoons they really wanted to see (typically, Japanese animators wanted…

As I was saying, the original Megazone 23’s success helped to open the floodgates for the OAV wave of the late 80s, and gave many Japanese animators the freedom to make the cartoons they really wanted to see (typically, Japanese animators wanted to see sex and violence). Now Megazone 23 was made with a TV series in mind, so as a film, it could only let so much hang out. Part II, on the other hand, is a different story entirely. It’s Megazone 23 with the brakes cut, and the resulting film gives the distinct impression that in its day, it probably changed some kid’s life.

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Shogo, Yui, and BD are back, but they look like completely different people. You won’t recognize them until they’re called by name, and even then, you’ll wonder if these people just happen to share names. The character designs, supplied by Yasuomi Umetsu, are arguably the most 80s Japanese cartoons have ever been, going so far as to literally insert Cyndi Lauper as a supporting character. BD looks like a glam-rocker and Shogo is running a gang of biker punks with huge, multicolored hair and names like Lightning and Dumpi. Yui, meanwhile, has been made over according to Umetsu’s preferences: looking back from the present, it’s hard not to notice how much she resembles the heroines of Umetsu’s later pornographic efforts Mezzo Forte and Kite. I’m willing to bet that the guy handled the graphic (but more sensible than last time!) sex scene all by himself.

As we said, Shogo’s got himself a good old fashioned establishment-hating biker gang now, called Trash. When Shogo’s not hiding from or beating on the cops or the military, Trash spends all their spare time sitting around in their hideout drinking, smoking and listening to Eve. There’s something incongruous about these badasses loving the sort of gooey idol pop that otaku tend to fancy… but let’s let it go. Honestly, not a lot going on in this movie does make sense. Just try and run with it.

Meanwhile, BD and the military are outmatched against an overpowering alien enemy whose favored weapons are mechanical tendrils that mutilate people to glorious excess: these guys aren’t just winning a war, they’re winning it in style. Suffice to say, the cops, the army and Shogo (with his Garland) go to full-blown war, as the larger war going on up in space runs towards a conclusion that’s beyond anybody’s control.

This was directed by Ichiro Itano before his masterpiece, the anti-Semitic tirade known as Angel Cop,, and don’t let anybody ever tell you that this man doesn’t know how to take it over the top. The dude who trademarked Macross‘ famous missile acrobatics delivers a feast of punk-on-authority-figure violence: did you like that part in the first movie where the Garland flips over a cop car? Good, because a guy flips over a police car in this one. The animation fluctuates wildly from smooth to dire, but when it counts, Itano delivers with sights like a man on a hovercraft flying into power lines and rubber-banding off his vehicle. I don’t care what movie it’s in, stuff like that is what I am talking about.

The plot is pretty nonsense, but the film remains a spectacle throughout, even putting aside what’s going on with Adam and Eve and the music video end of the world. But don’t worry so much about the story of Megazone; it’s just going to go sour in the next one anyway. What it’s about, in its heart of hearts, is biker gangs ambushing the cops.

9 Comments

  1. There are some people who I respect greatly that feel MZ23-II is the shit. I just don’t feel it. If it weren’t for the excessive bloody deaths I’d think it was the plot of MZ23 redone for American Sat. AM. TV, it has that Mighty Orbots/Galaxy High look going on.

    The problem is likely me, as I never had that ‘Rebel! Trash! Tear it all down!’ phase in my life. Funny, that, having had a youth in the turbulent, riot-filled ’60s.

  2. I wasn’t down with the (to me) radical shift in look and mood from the original, whose relevance to me was a sense of what it might feel like to be young and alive at that moment in Tokyo–all the SF action stuff was cool, but it wasn’t *relevant.* I didn’t go to Tokyo when I was sixteen in search of Garland models (much less thinking I’d see a mecha battle) but to be at Studio ALTA and Cafe de Rope, to walk through Roppongi and down Omotesando. The characters in Part II were more realistic-looking, but suddenly had acquired these poser attitudes; they’d gone from being characters in an ’80s OAV, to being ’80 OAV characters, if that makes sense.

  3. I agree with Steve and Carl. The original Megazone 23 had me hook line and sinker as a teenager just getting into Japanese Cartoons. The shift to just another 80’s action OAV really soured me and distracted me too much to notice the wacky action hi-jinx I enjoyed in similar works of the time period.

  4. I’m with Dave on this one. This really typifies the best of 1980’s OAV’s for me; the complete excess.And I am not necessarily restricting that opinion solely due to the actual content, but also how it’s presented. The sheer amount of detail in Umetsu’s character designs is absolutely staggering.

    Only Pre-economic bubble-pop Japan could deliver this.

  5. I dont understand why you say the plot doesn’t make sense. This movie is pretty straightforward plot-wise.

  6. Count me in with the Part II haters. The plot didn’t make any sense, the protagonists were vicious assholes, the stiff-faced over-realistic character designs made everyone look like animatrons, and the violence was unearned and ugly. Umetsu’s character designs are the embodiment of the Uncanny Valley.

  7. Its one of those shows that was just a little to bad assed for it own good.

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