While my obsession with late 80s/early 90s Oriental Animation Videos keeps me sheltered from the cruel, barren, moé-filled shitpile that makes up the modern Japanese cartoon landscape, the realization that there will never be another Japtoon like Genocyber or Bubblegum Crisis keeps me from getting too excited. Of course, the fact that I’m dealing with a finite pool of titles to watch doesn’t really bother me because, truth be told, I kind of hate watching anime.
Once in a while I’ll come across a title from that particular era of boobs, violence and more boobs that I’ve never heard of, and such was the case of Demon of Steel: Battle of the Great Demon Beasts. The Internet told me it had Koichi Ohata on mechanical designs (say what you will about his directing, the guy can draw), Masami Obari on animation direction (say what you will about his mechanical designs, the guy can animate) and Toshihiro Hirano as director (you probably have nothing to say about this guy, but he excels at bare minimum competency), and I figured at the very least with Ohata and Obari, there could be some cool fight scenes.
I was wrong.
Demon of Steel has a story, but I’d have a hard time telling you much about it. The basic gist is our main character (his name is irrelevant, but you’ll recognize him because his jacket says “DANGER”) returns to a scientific research facility on an island where he used to work and reunites with some old friends. His best dude friend is getting into some heavy experiments and may or may not be going crazy/evil, the director of the research facility really hates Mr. DANGER for reasons I forget and there’s a lot going on, but you, as a viewer, will never really care. As the show drags on towards its unexplained and forced ending, Shit Gets Real and two old bros are forced to fight because they might as well use those robots Ohata designed for something.
It’s one of those cases where you’re dropped into the middle of a story and left to figure it all out on your own, except it never gets compelling or interesting enough to bother. Instead, you keep looking at your watch, waiting for the giant robots to show up. Unfortunately, they don’t show up until 30 minutes into the 40-minute OAV, and when they finally do it’s a big fucking letdown. The battle between Mr. DANGER and his buddy who’s turned evil is short and boring, and even some cool designs by Ohata can’t save what is an inevitably terrible climax to a worthless piece of animation. Throughout the 40-minute-long snooze-cruise I was constantly reminded of Genocyber — Genocyber also featured scientists, and Genocyber also had cool designs by Ohata, but Genocyber was entertaining to watch and Demon of Steel isn’t, so in retrospect I was probably just making it even worse for myself.
If I had to say one nice thing about Demon of Steel, I would say at least it isn’t Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance.
If I had to say another nice thing about Demon of Steel — at gunpoint, perhaps — I’d say it has nice production values for an Oriental Animated Video of this vintage. Unfortunately, it’s completely wasted on an abysmal script, and Obari must have been phoning it in because none of his trademark awesome (like anime masterpiece Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer –Ed.) is present. Furthermore, most of these above-average production values are wasted on scene after scene of talking heads, so there’s really no reason whatsoever for you to watch this thing.
Watch Genocyber instead.