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Megazone 23 - Megazone 23 Sequels

 

Warning: This Section Contains Spoilers

This section contains information on all of the "Megazone 23" anime sequels. Though none are really related to Robotech in any way, I thought it might be good idea to show the full story of "Megazone 23", not just the first part.

 

Megazone 23 Part II: Please Tell Me the Secret

Megazone 23 Part II poster Theatrical Release: 26 April 1986
Video Release: 30 May 1986
Runtime: 82 minutes
Staff
Director: Ichiro Itano
Screenplay: Hiroyuki Hoshiyama
Character Design: Yasuomi Umetsu
Eve Design: Haruhiko Mikimoto
Original story: Noboru Ishiguro
Music: Shiro Sagisu
Supervision: Noboru Ishiguro
Production: Artland/AIC/Idol Co Ltd/ARTMIC/Victor Entertainment

Six months have passed since the events of "Megazone 23". Shogo Yahagi is wanted for the murder of Tomomi Murashita and is being hunted down by military and police under the control of BD. Shogo fights back by joining a biker gang named Trash, who regularly have skirmishes against the police. The interstellar war has also continued, but despite their best efforts and new more powerful weapons, the war seems to be going badly for the military. To add to their woes, the EVE program wasn't wiped completely from the Bahamut and has regained some of its power back. It continues to interrupt radio and TV broadcasts asking for the operator of 7G to make contact with her. The Trash gang discover that a new Garland is sitting a warehouse, and Shogo decides to steal it. However it is in fact a trap set by BD to capture Shogo.

With the surprising success of "Megazone 23", the producers asked Artmic, AIC and Artland to produce a sequel. But apparently one of the producers had tried to swindle the investors of the profits. The matter eventually went to the courts. Director Noburo Ishiguro felt that it wasn't the time to be creating a sequel with the chaos going on in court about the profits of the first part. But he relented, and put animation director and key animation action wiz Ichiro Itano in as director. Ishiguro had told Itano to do whatever he wanted to do with the OVA.

This 1986 sequel (subtitled "Please Tell Me the Secret") is completely different in style to the first part. Toshihiro Hirano was again put in charge of the character designs and Yasuomi Umetsu was designing the biker gang. But Umetsu also tried drawing his own versions of the main characters for fun. Eventually these were submitted to Itano, who liked them so much he decided to ditch Hirano's designs. Initially this was not popular with the rest of the staff. There were some arguments against changing the designs so radically. Umetsu later stated in an interview that he was "protected" from the other staff by Itano, however some of the staff liked the new designs. In addition Shogo's character has a new voice actor, but Eve's design remains the same. The changes were of course criticised by fans of the series. Another strange element was the inclusion of a sex scene between Yui and Shogo. Although there was a similar scene in the first part, the one contained here is much more explicit, and seemingly quite unimportant to the plot. Oddly enough, this scene was only included in the video release of the film and did not appear in the theatrical version. Nearly the entire first half of the film is quite slow with little plot, and mostly serves as an introduction to the Trash gang. But the only things the biker gang seem to do is smoke cigarettes, drink Heineken beer and listen to Eve Tokimatsuri songs.

Relationships were strained at the production company, mostly due to the court case, but somehow a decent product was made. Itano recalled in a an interview that he was brash, but the experience helped him a lot since this was the first directorial job he had done. Ishiguro felt that the project was utterly chaotic and the resulting film was even more chaotic than the first part.

Itano says that the OVA itself is about role models. He feels that when he was making the film that there was no real role models for him at the producer or sponsorship level of the production, though he had plenty at the animation studio. Another theme is to never give up. He feels that youth today should not be pessimistic and they should have some sort of dream. The bikie characters Cindy and Dumpi are respectively based upon Cindy Lauper and female Japanese wrestling star Dump Truck. Strangely enough, this part of the series was the first to have a complete uncut English dub. The dub was created by Intersound under the direction of Harmony Gold. Who actually directed and scripted the dub is a bit of a mystery, but it was fairly accurate and didn't stray a great deal from the original. The only real change was the names of the two lead characters. Shogo became Johnny Winters and Yui became Suzy Sue. Hilariously one of the lines in the dub is "Johnny Winters? Never heard of the guy", which is probably what a lot of "Megazone 23" fans were saying when they saw it. The dub ended up released in Japan as an aid for learning English, but was also commercially released by Victor on Laserdisc and video with Japanese subtitles in 1987, but was never released anywhere else in the world. Curiously the end sequence from "Robotech the movie" was also included as a bonus in the release. The ending was also given two pages to itself in the "Megazone 23 Part II" movie program.

 

Megazone 23 Part III

Megazone 23 Part III poster Video Release: 28 September 1989 ("The Awakening of Eve"), 22 December 1989 ("The Day of Liberation")
Theatrical Release: 25 November 1989
Runtime: 103 minutes
Staff
Directors: Shinji Aramaki and Kenichi Yatagai
Screenplay: Emu Arii
Character Design: Hiroyuki Kitazume
Original Story: Noboru Ishiguro and Shinji Aramaki
Music: Keishi Urata
Production: AIC/ARTMIC/Victor Entertainment

Five hundred years have passed since the core of Megazone 23 landed back on the rejuvenated Earth. Humanity is now contained within a city called Eden, itself a Megazone built some one thousand years ago but never launched. But unlike it's namesake, Eden is seemingly not a great place to live. Suicides are up, and groups of people called "Net Jackers" constantly disrupt the Datanet, a system which controls every aspect of the citizens of Eden. The Datanet is owned and operated by a corporation named E=X, who are led by a mysterious man called Bishop Won Dai, and act like their company is a government. Game master and part time hacker Eji Tanaka, gives up his slacker life to join E=X. But after meeting a girl named Ryo, Eji gets caught up in conspiracy by game maker Orange to bring down E=X and Bishop Won Dai's frightening vision for Eden. The future of humanity may lie in Eji's hands, as well as the virtual idol Eve Tokimatsuri, who is more than just a simple idol.

In 1989, Victor decided to resurrect the "Megazone 23" franchise, some three years after the second part in the series. Shinji Amaraki, who designed and created the original Garland in the first part of "Megazone 23" was given directorial duties along with Kenichi Yatagai. Creator Noboru Ishiguro had absolutely no involvement in the production. In early production meetings with Victor, Amaraki suggested that he wanted to make the third part a "cyberpunk anime". Amaraki had previously worked on the original "Bubblegum Crisis" OVA series, one of the definitive cyberpunk anime and the influence of that series can be clearly seen in "Megazone 23 Part III".

Seeing as over three years had passed since the second part of the series was released, the decision was taken to shape the story so it was unnecessary to have seen the previous two parts. New elements were added to the the "Megazone 23" universe, notably the city of Eden, which in this part of the story can be clearly seen from where Bahamut landed on Earth. But this causes some inconsistencies and plot  holes following on from part two of the series. Even though in part three the city of Eden has been there since before the original Megazones launched, it isn't visible in the last scenes of part two. Apart from the apparent low budget of part three, the other sticking point with fans was the changing of Eve's voice actress to Takaoka Saki, who doesn't hold a candle to the original Eve, Miyasato Kumi, who is a much better voice actress. Amaraki also revised the main cast with Eve being the only returning character. For the rest of the cast, Amaraki says he was heavily influenced by shoujo manga (girls comics) and wanted to create characters that girls would like. He also has said the voice talent boom of the late 1980's possibly influenced his decisions as well. A number of well known voice actors appear in part three including Megumi Hayashibara.

Some English anime reference books accuse this part of the Megazone franchise as a rip off of "Akira". It does star two key actors from "Akira" who play similar roles, and it does have a red bike and a government conspiracy, but the direction of Shinji Aramaki and key mechanical animation and designs by Masami Obari make it feel more like "Megazone 23" had been transported into a "Bubblegum Crisis" type of world (Aramaki and Obari worked on the original OVA series of "Bubblegum Crisis").

Though this part has been lambasted by many anime fans, I felt it was more exciting and certainly more action packed than the previous instalment of the series. However one of the major problems with it is the plot, which seems overly complex, quite confusing and has many plot holes. One of the most unintentionally hilarious things in this anime is the name of the game that Eji and his friends play; "Hard On". No it's not a sex game, it's virtual reality shoot-'em-up space battle game. I suspect that the creators thought that it meant the game was hardcore or something. Pity they didn't run it past an English speaking foreigner before embarrassing themselves in front of thousands of English speaking anime fans. The other noticeable problem with "Megazone 23 Part III" is the animation. For the most part it's fine, however at points during the first OVA it looks really poor. Some cuts in some sequences only have the key animation present, there's no in-between animation. That means the animation is almost one cel per second, which is an abysmal frame rate for animation (and not considered animation really).

Part three was the first commercially available English dub of the series released in an English speaking country. It was released in June 1995 by Manga Entertainment in the UK. The dub was directed by Michael Bakewell who had directed the majority of English dubs released by Manga. Surprisingly these were all recorded in the UK, but with actors from American backgrounds, or British actors who could put on a half decent American accent. Bakewell is probably best known for dubbing the 1979 Japanese live action series "Monkey!", which was a cult hit in the UK and Australia. But the most surprising thing about this dubbed version is that it contains a five minute prologue, with a narrator telling the audience the story of "Megazone 23", with seemingly randomly edited pieces of animation from part three. Created by Manga Entertainment, I can only assume that they thought it would be beneficial for the audience to know the back story of the series (the first two parts were never released in the UK). The prologue more or less broadly covers the events of the previous two parts of the series, and seems in part to be based upon the "Megazone 23" timeline from the 1990 "Megazone 23 B-Club Special" artbook, which was written and illustrated by Yumeno Ley. However the retelling of the story changes two important parts. First it claims that the Bahamut was always on Earth and controlled the Megazones that were out in space. Secondly it bizarrely claims that Shogo learnt about the truth of his world from an "old man". Somehow I don't think either BD or Eve are "old men".

 

Megazone 23 TV Series

In the December 2004 issue of Newtype USA, in the article "Inside AIC" by Amos Wong, a very brief mention was made of AIC's plans to produce a TV series of "Megazone 23". No other details were given out until June 2005, when the Japanese magazine, Nikkei Characters, announced that the TV series was in production. The magazine reported that the series would be a retelling using the characters from the first two OVAs, and it would feature character designs by Haruhiko Mikimoto.

However since that time, nothing else has been said about the series. No designs or images have been released. Seeing as over a decade has passed since any information came out regarding the series, one can only assume that the project has been permanently shelved.

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