Mosesical, Christlike 1987 VHS Cartoons: The Crystal Triangle

FROM THE WRITER AND DIRECTOR OF DANCOUGAR!

I saw this movie for the first time when I ran a panel about it. I figured hell, I had it on reliable enough authority that the film was horrendous. It was all true.

The Crystal Triangle is the animated equivalent of one of those dime-store science fiction novels written by madmen. An inexplicably omnipotent Indiana Jones bootleg (Koichiro Kamishiro) stumbles– with godlike power and grace– through the single most amazing script I have ever seen in the history of fiction.

So it turns out that God hid a great, final message for humanity a very long time ago, an 11th Commandment or something. Napoleon wanted to know what it was. Hitler wanted to know what it was. So does the CIA, and the KGB, and most importantly of all, Koichiro Kamishiro wants to know. And what Noblest Soul In Human History Koichiro Kamishiro wants, Greatest Martyr Of This Generation Koichiro Kamishiro is supplied by the script.

I can’t stop talking about this fucking script. It’s so amazing: I just want to transcribe it in its entirety and print it up and bathe in it. One of the cool things about this script, for example, is that the all of the characters who don’t shoot a gun or cut up monsters or anything exist solely to give information to the audience. When something doesn’t make sense– nothing that happens makes sense– there’s always a woman by Kamishiro’s side to give an uncalled-for and illogical explanation: in one case a character is actually possessed in order to deliver a small bundle of exposition. Don’t think logic — think sudden declarations. “I’ve always heard rumors that an evil monster controlled Japan!”

And yes, an evil monster controls Japan, but the wheelchair-bound crime boss (who can replace a Prime Minister with a single word) is really at odds with the other evil monsters controlling Japan, a tribe of lizard robot Buddhist monk monsters who are going to supplant humanity when, uh, a dark star arrives. In the future. Only the 11th Commandment from God could possibly stop them!

And then the CIA and the KGB: CIA agent Juno Cassidy is a stock Anime Sexy Blonde who exists to speak English, make out with the hero, gush about his omnipotence and repeatedly force a terrible metaphor about whether she is an angel or a devil. You’re no Mazinger Z, lady, I’ll tell you that. The KGB agent is– I kid you not– the grandson of Rasputin, who carries a rocket propelled grenade launcher everywhere, as is fitting for an… archeologist. Only the 11th Commandment from God could possibly win the Cold War!

Another awesome thing about this script is that it just skips things. Kamishiro and the CIA agent are late for their flight home (though he should be flying to Japan and she should be flying to the States), so they bust into the airport in their jeep and then stop in front of the plane. This should be an incident, but hell, why bother having an incident? In the next shot, Cassidy and Kamishiro are just on the plane. And then it gets hijacked! Cassidy single-handedly puts down the hijack with spy lipstick loaded with sleeping gas (and the gasmask she apparently packs in her purse). Boy! How are they gonna land this plane now? This should be an incident! In the next shot, the plane is floating in the sea. In the scene after that, Kamishiro is home in Japan. We call this… storytelling.

And that’s how the entire story of The Crystal Triangle is told. Kamishiro goes Super Saiyan, pulls out a pair of wooden knives and tears up a bunch of robo reptile zombie Buddhist monks out of nowhere in the middle of the movie, where a flashback reveals that he is is trained in the amazing Ubanishad martial arts: probably named for the Hindu scriptures, which is kinda like naming a martial art The Biple. He later uses a Spirit Bomb to break a fall and yells the greatest special move name in Japtoon history.

Everything culminates in an air battle between American and Soviet forces that really makes me wonder if they had a lot of rather nice animation of dogfights lying around (some early Hideaki Anno work here!) that they just couldn’t find a use for. By the way, they’re fighting over God’s pyramid-shaped spaceship, which has been hidden underground for millions of years, and they can’t stop crashing their airplanes into it, and a spaceship built by God–who is a giant caterpillar that sounds like a child– containing his great message for all humanity is somehow highly vulnerable to conventional weaponry.

The Crystal Triangle’s special madness scales ever upwards, eventually reaching a hysterical anticlimax that had my panel audience simultaneously laughing and yelling at the screen as the film reminded us one more time of the amazing sacrifice of our hero, his mighty, Biblical stature. Watch The Crystal Triangle as soon as you can, but for Moses and Christ’s sake don’t watch it alone. And bring some booze.

BONUS: CAN YOU SPOT NORIO WAKAMOTO??

2 Comments

  1. It was glorious – thank you for this write up, I’d never have found it otherwise.

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