Japtoons That Fail to Live Up to Their Awesome Titles: Demon of Steel: Battle of the Great Demon Beasts

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…

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 GenocyberGenocyber 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 GowcaizerEd.) 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.


  1. It took me a while for my still-groggy brain to realize that Demon of Steel was in fact “Hagane no Oni,” for which my first exposure to was downloading MP3s of the OST via rec.arts.anime.music so very long ago. At the time, few if any had actually seen the thing since as far as I can tell there were no widely-distributed VHS fansubs of the thing. All anyone knew was that it had a robot and THIS was the soundtrack. For some time I operated on the premise that it must be pretty kickass stuff. UNTIL…!

    Yeah, it was basically what you said. Also, the name Toshihiro/Toshiki Hirano should give anyone pause, as I’m pretty sure his planning notebook for any given project consists of the word “LESBIANS” written over and over again such that if he can’t have those in there he just doesn’t know what the fuck. Magic Knight Rayearth and Apocalypse Zero: they’re more similar than you think.

  2. See, I like Hirano. Hirano gave us Iczer-1 and the Miyu OAV. Yeah, I will admit he is a better character designer/animator than director, but he isnt THAT bad. 😀
    I have a love/hate thing with Obari. It seems like when he was restrained from injecting his fetishes into his work, he did awesome stuff..but he kinda lost me in his later works.
    Ohata is the man. I had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of times when he was the #1 GoH at all the old school East Coast anime cons. Really nice guy, has a good taste in films too.
    As for Demon of Steel, yeah, I never heard of it until a year or so ago. Missed out on it in the whole OAV boom, but it was pretty forgettable. I miss that era of Japan having too much money to toss around, because lots of wacky and off center stuff was released then.

  3. Yeah, this was pretty lame. As you mention, it’s a shame, because there are a finite number of 80’s OVAs left to discover. It did not even have boobs.

  4. My mistake. On a private torrent tracker there’s a member called Kentaifilms who’s uploading 80s gems (Angel Cop uncensored and subbed, Golgo 13, Yoshiaki Kawajiri). One of their newest uploads is this OVA, so I, falsely, thought you snatched the thing from there, as it’s not exactly available in your average DVD rental store and you you’re a Golden Age enthusiast.

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