In the far future, the elevated irradiation from the sun has destroyed the environment of the earth and the birthrate of humans has drastically decreased. The government controls society with an army of cloned soldiers called "Ideal Children (IC)". Sam Coyne is a trader in a desert. One day, he saves a beautiful woman Maya, who has been chased by Theseus, a corps of IC. He shelters her in his trade ship, but the destroyers of Theseus surround Sam and Maya.
Ozuma is an anime that starts with potential, unfortunately it suffers from a crippling flaw; it's just too short.
The first thing you'll notice is the very old looking character designs, this is because it is based on the unpublished script by Leiji Matsumoto from the 1980's. Some might be put off by them, especially if you have only watched anime post 2000, but I think it provides a good example of how anime has changed visually over the years, and would hope that people would not avoid the series because of the old art. The animation was of a good quality throughout the run, and
the CGI which was used often was mostly done well, although there were one or two instances where it looked slightly awkward.
The soundtrack for Ozuma did it's job satisfactorily though it didn't stand out very much due to it being forgettable. The ED, "Utagoe" by Minami Kizuki is a pleasant track with some soft piano, however it is the OP "Neverland" by F.T. Island that will attract your attention. There is both a Japanese and an English version of the opening, the version you will hear will depend on the source of the episodes you watch. Both versions are decent tracks, though I much preferred the English opening.
The setting was initially very interesting, the earth has turned to desert due to increased radiation, and the cloned people called the "ideal children" rule over society. I thought this all had a lot of intrigue, and hoped that we would get interesting revelations as the show progressed.
Unfortunately nothing much came of the setting, and this is where it starts to go downhill, most of Ozuma's problems (including this one) stem from the aforementioned length. This is only 6 episodes long, but there was enough content to constitute over twice that. As an unavoidable consequence, this was very rushed. There isn't much time to build up to revelations, develop characters, or even have a satisfactory plot.
The plot seems very simple at first, with Sam (our protagonist) saving Maya from her pursuers, followed by a battle that mimics submarine warfare. In reality the plot should have been much more complicated, with politics and important biological themes, namely "species which do not evolve will not survive", however, despite the potential for a complex and interesting story, it is mostly glossed over due to the time constraints, which is a massive shame. The mystery about Ozuma (the sand whale) was interesting, but the way in which we found out it's true "identity" was underwhelming, and a plot twist concerning Gido was fairly obvious.
Due to the fact the characters were conceived in the 1980's, they have the common personality quirks from that time, and are likable, though most of them are only in the background, since there isn't any time to cover them. The main characters suffered from a lack of characterization, and with the pace of the show, there was no time for proper character development or any change in the relationships between the characters. The way Sam and Maya interact with each other stays the same throughout, which was disappointing. The only main character that stood out was Bainas, as she was an intelligent commander who was entertaining to watch, and progressed the most as a character, which was still too little.
Ozuma is enjoyable most of the way through, the battles that take place beneath the surface of the sand are well executed and make use of clever tactics, and because they are like submarine battles, you can actually understand what's going on to the full extent. However by the end, where the pacing of the show is the most rushed, I found everything so underwhelming that I wasn't so much unable to enjoy it, but I just stopped caring about what was happening.
To conclude, there was far too much content for the time available, which resulted in an anime which was disappointing, and left you with a feeling of indifference, which is a pity considering how much potential it had and how likable it was at the beginning.
OZMA is your stereotypical apocalyptic-type story, where the world is pure desert and people must live in cities near an oasis. The conflict is centered on the titular OZMA figure that appear to be a beast that has terrorized the high sands for centuries. The majority of the action take place on the ship that the main characters reside on and centers on their interaction with the "Ideal Children" empire and their princess.
Story(6)-The story is okayish, I guess. While the overall plot is decent and such I would have loved to see more of the apocalyptic culture. Oh well, I guess there's Mad Max.
The story centers on a young boy named Sam, whose older brother Dick(I am not making this up) mysteriously vanished years ago. Sam believes OZMA is the reason for his disappearance and tries to track OZMA's movement. While this story is great in concept I don't believe it actually works. The majority of the 6 episodes is someone being kidnapped and Sam's friends having to retrieve them. The ending is a bit lackluster as it does not provide valid closure to the audience as well.
Art(8)-Honestly, the art was pretty good. This art was very unique so to speak, as every character had their own facial structure. Even the throwaway's had no similarities among them even if they were only active for one scene.
Sound(5)-Aside from the opening and the closing no music came to my mind as special. I believe the opening was tailored for this anime as it fits the mood perfectly. The closing is extremely mellow as well, which is something I look for in my theme pieces. The only negative is the other music isn't really notable. If I was only judging based off of theme music alone, this would be a 8.
Character(5)-The character's were alright, the main character(Sam) pissed me off to no end. It's obviously not apparent that this character learns any lesson from his actions and does the same actions over and over to advance the plot. Other more interesting characters do the same type of thing and the most interesting characters are skipped over in the process of attempting to develop other characters
Enjoyment(4)-I didn't really enjoy the series because it had one key flaw to me, it did not worldbuild very well. The majority of the story happens on the barren desert while they had a beautiful intro city that I would have love to see more off. It also had battles in locations that we knew about in this world and did not attempt to be unique in a sense.
Overall(4)-This series does what it is intended to do, which is tell a story about the mysterious OZMA, but even then it barely does that. It skips over the notable thing in the post-apocalyptic genre in favor of horrible character development.
Would I recommend this series if your an very experienced anime viewer? : Yes.
Anyone else? :
There are many aspects about this anime that may be off-putting, like the older style of art, the shortness of it, and the strange, future-technology vocabulary used. However, I think that all of these just add to this anime's strength. The art is a pre-2000 style, meaning slightly disproportioned heads, everybody's got the same nose, and they all have really big hair--which looks fabulous in my opinion. The music all along the anime was awesome, especially the opening song; it successfully adds suspense. And the vocabulary, I must admit was frustrating in the beginning, but you have a deeper sense of accomplishment at the end
when you figure out what everything meant.
However, I did have one problem with the anime: though the storyline was fine and full of potential, the way the anime ended was way too fast. I think most people will agree with me that this could have been a 10 episode anime at least if the production team had spaced out the significant events. You could tell that the last two episodes were really rushed and I actually had to think about what had happened when I finished watching, which isn't a good thing. But that is just a personal opinion, as I know people who love it when they have to reflect on what just took place as opposed to understand everything as it happens.
Overall it wasn't bad, and I quite enjoyed it, especially the pleasantly brief emotional twist at the end. It is definitely worth a shot since it's only 6 episodes long.
So this is what it feels like to get KO'd with 6 seconds to go.
Leiji, Leiji, Leiji...<smh>, how many anime have I watched SOLELY because your name is on them? How many of them have been good? How many did I enjoy less than OZMA? How many more will I watch? These are rhetorical questions. Like all Leiji-san's anime it starts with a boy (I'M NOT A BOY! I'M ALMOST A MAN!!) who finds adventure with a mystery girl; which leads to an all too familiar group on their special ship, being pursued by the pig dog feddies (they're all feddies after gundam) in
a bold strange and new world. And for what it is is sells. Action, adventure, mystery & comedy it's got a lot going for it. But it also has a lot working against it. It's only six episodes and shouldn't be a second longer. It's barely tolerable at six. Any longer and the score goes lower. Everyone has their role to play and they do, but not much else. I'd much rather watch a story with fewer characters that has more to say than this homage to one man's ability to reuse the same characters which I love, over and over again. The journey ends too soon to care or matter, but the tale isn't deep or fleshed out enough to warrant a cry of, "more!" This is easily Leiji-san's second worst work I've seen but the man knows how to craft an adventure tale so it works but not enough to truly justify recommending it. Watch it if you are on a two hour flight and have exhausted all other things to watch.