In the year 2062, the world's two superpowers are fighting a long and brutal war. In a desperate attempt to win, pilot Kei Katsuragi is given the mission to detonate a super weapon called the Space/Time Oscillation Bomb. The bomb explodes but the results are completely unexpected: a multitude of dimensions, times, and realities are unleashed into the world. Can Kei reverse the effects and bring life back to normal?
Super Dimension Century Orguss is the second of the Super Dimension Trilogy, the first being Super Dimension Fortress Macross and the third being Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross. These are all unrelated series made by the same people they just carry the same title of Super Dimension. In the US release of Robotech, they used both Macross and Southern Cross, however instead of Orguss they used Genesis Climber Mospeada instead. This lead to Orguss becoming obscure as it was never made popular. Well it's not like I would of felt any better if Harmony Gold got it's hands on this and made a censored version.
However because of that it's terrible abomination of a sequel (Orguss 02) is the only way anyone knows of this.
Being made right after Macross you can see how similar it is and how much they improved. The cels are a lot more detailed, the plot is just as complex. It wasn't until last year that I discovered this anime and I enjoyed it as much as I did the original Macross many years ago. It has everything you need, action, suspense, aliens and robots just like Macross. Even though it's been over a year, this is still the last great anime I've watched. 10/10 Perfection.
It took me a long time to get around to watching Orguss because nobody seemed to have anything good to say about it, and well, after watching it, I don't really get why it's so disliked/overlooked. It's not the best anime in the world (maybe people are comparing it to Macross because it's Studio Nue and most of the same staff worked on it?) but it's definitely an enjoyable little show that's worth watching at least once.
Without giving too much away, the basic plot of the show centers around two pilots, Kei Katsuragi and Orson Verne, whose mission is to set off a "trans-dimensional bomb".
It's the "near" future and the two factions that govern the world are fighting over the control of an orbital elevator. When it comes to this conflict, we don't get much more detail than that, but we don't need it, because as soon as the bomb goes off, Kei is transported to another earth, one where dimensions phase in and out and the earth's atmosphere is affected by some sort of extreme greenhouse effect.
Kei is immediately discovered by a group of people who call themselves Emarns, a business-minded people who typically travel from place to place selling goods in sort of a floating spaceship-esque caravan, the Groma. Kei soon learns that he is one of two "differential points" (I kind of wonder if this could've been translated another way) -- this basically just means is that Kei is key to the restoration of the earth, which is becoming increasingly unstable. There is an antagonistic faction on the planet called Chiram who want Kei for their own purposes, and to complicate things, our heroes also have to contend with an entire civilization of genocidal robots hell bent on destroying all humans.
From there, politics get a bit more complicated, as to be expected from an anime directed by Noburo Ishiguro; it's not as sophisticated as some of the other anime he has directed such as Legend of the Galactic Heroes or even Macross, but it's still complex enough that the story plays more like a pulpy late 60s sci-fi novel than your typical 80s mecha anime. Unfortunately, due to the pacing of the show (there is some filler and the last handful of episodes seem rather rushed, and the ending is completely abrupt) the story suffers a bit. The story really begins to pick up around episode 15, after Orson is reintroduced into the show (my favorite character by far and probably the best example of a "main hero b" I've seen in a mecha anime). I also feel like the conflict with the Muu robots could've been introduced a lot sooner than it was. With some better pacing this show could've been a lot better, but it's not hard to see what they were shooting for and the show is still enjoyable to watch. There are several WTF moments (Palm tree monsters! Gigantic grapes!) but those just add to the charm of the series and are imaginative, I mean, in a world where different dimensions phase in and out, why not have fun with it?
The characters in this show are fun. Most of them are deeply flawed, but to get into detail about their flaws would spoil a lot of the show. The protagonist, Kei, is a "player" type of guy but has more charm than your typical Ataru Moroboshi-ish horny male anime lead. I started off really disliking him as his constant attempts to get with Mimsy were really annoying me, but over time you get to see a softer side of the character, a guy who is attracted to women but simultaneously genuinely cares for and respects not only women but everyone around him. In fact, this proves to be a major problem for him later in the series.
Basically, Orguss is a really fun show with some great art (great example of early 80s Haruhiko Mikimoto character designs, which I absolutely love) and sporadic bits of decent animation, with an intriguing and original story, and really good music. (My absolute favorite OP and some of the BGM is actually quite good -- listen for the Morricone-ripoff theme!) Watch and judge for yourself, don't listen to the haters.
Super Dimension Century Orguss... I was excited to start watching another anime from the person who directed Legend of the Galactic Heroes and SDF Macross, it evens looks like SDF Macross. What could possibly go wrong with this anime? Just about everything, I'm afraid.
For reasons unknown to me, the budget for this anime is noticeably lacking. For those who have seen Macross and the infamously bad Max vs. Miriya knife duel, that's about how Orguss is ALL THE TIME. Reused frames and clunky character movements run rampant and no amount of directorial magic can draw attention away from it. Your eyes will be subject to
bleeding if you watch this anime.
What is Orguss all about then... The setting is an Earth that consists of many different versions of Earth due to a new dimensional bomb set off by the main character, Kei. Kei is transported to the future and must make the Earth right again while protecting himself from the various versions of humanity that want to use him for their own goals. Sounds good, right? Oh no, horrible memories are flooding back! One of these new "human" species look exactly the same as regular humans, except they have weird hair tentacles. This bothers Kei for about 2 seconds before he starts fawning over the sexy hair-tentacle women. The presence of the tentacles is merely so that they don't look exactly like humans, I can make this bold statement because their purpose is never mentioned throughout the rest of the show, nor do they seem to be of any use except as a reminder for them to be very careful around scissors. To add insult to injury, this beacon of evolution, the people who have easily ripped off hair-tentacles, can't have children after the age of 18. No, you did not read that wrong, every girl belonging to this species gets knocked up when they're underage. Oh, Japan...
I also have to add, in one of the early episodes Kei notes how these people don't really mourn death the same way humans do. This is not adhered to or brought up again for the rest of show. It was too hard to write in an entire one cultural difference apparently.
"Surely then," you ask, "the characters make up for it?" HAHAHAHA, did you think this would be anything like SDF Macross where there is an underlying character drama underneath the all mechs and lasers? Unfortunately, wrong. There is a vague attempt to make some melodrama by having the main character be a man-slut homewrecker, but we're saved from that horrible plot point by the convenient killing off of his competition. It's no spoiler, the guy has maybe four lines and nobody even likes him. Life lesson: infidelity is no problemo if the dude you're screwing over is a total jerk.
I can't say much about the overall direction of Orguss, there isn't much of one to begin with. Just know, basically everything ends up having no consequence and everyone but maybe three characters could not have existed and it would have all ended the same anyway.
Trailing after Macross’ fameーhere lies a horrid follow-up called Super Dimensional Century Orguss. I mean, Orguss LOOKS good, but the characters and plot are all over the place. The main character is pretty much a womanizing, rape-y douche-solider that got warped into a parallel world, where’s there’s subsequently… a harem of hair-tentacle girls and a robot loli. Great.
• So, our lovely protagonist, Kei Katsuragi, holds one of the girls, Mimsy, at knife point and tries to force her into kissing him. And because main character privilege, also known as protagonist syndrome, in real life, Mimsy eventually falls in love
with him and he NTRs’ her fiancée. To make things worse, all of the women in this dimension have to have sex when they’re teenagers, because they’re infertile in adulthood apparently. What the fuck, Japan?
• The what-the-fuckery gets more intense when you find out that the ship captain’s twin sister Maniisha is being so antagonistic to the crew because her husband originally wanted to sleep with her sister? How are you supposed to like any of these characters when even fucking Jabby, pretty much the Jar Jar Binks of the show, is shown cheating on his girlfriend in a flashback? Why didn’t Noboru Ishiguro just make a NTR hentai?
• And the lolita robot-slave, I’m not fucking with you, gets jealous over Mimsey and expresses a romantic interest in the protagonist, which is partially reciprocated, because the main character is a piece of shit! Keep in mind: Noburo Ishiguro is the director behind Legend of the Galactic Heroes, the original Macross, Megazone 23, and the original Space Battleship Yamato, so Orguss’s visual direction is on point. That’s what makes it so bad…
• There are some weird visual conniptions, in character movements and general robotic animation, but overall I thought the designs and directing were appealing to look at. I thought the idea of what would happen if a singularity were to exist within a parallel dimension was supremely dope, and wished that all of the internal character drama didn’t distract from the conceptual coolness.
• I didn’t think that Orguss 02 was that much worse than the original, though obviously inferior in direction. There’s another rape-y, douchebag character, that’s not in the main cast, and actually gets bad karma in the end, instead of being celebrated as a hero home-wrecker. The main villain from 02 was silly, he’s exactly like Shakespeare’s Hamlet (not exaggerating), except if Hamlet wanted to destroy all of humanity to cover the Earth with beautiful flowers.
• But, overall it isn’t that inferior to Ishiguro’s vision. The director who did the second series, Fumihiko Takayama, also was behind Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in Pocket, which I enjoyed. Both Orguss stories kind of made me feel trailer trash for watching them, with little-to-no sophistication with the writing.
• The original Orguss is like a much, much worse version of the original Mobile Suit Gundam, as far as women being cast as meat bags that are just there to sleep with and don’t really do anything that useful, but the original Gundam actually has them written as human beings, not just conquests.
• With the little eyebrow turns you gets from the dated subject matter in Gundam, you also get a superbly executed and iconic story, characters, and world. Whereas Orguss just seems like a cheap, bargain bin pulp magazine from the 80s. I did like how the story wrapped up at the end; Ishiguro is really great knotting together all of the strings of the story with a glorious conclusion in the endーnote to viewers: the prime example of this is Legend of the Galactic Heroes.
• If you’re wondering why Legend of the Galactic Heroes is is considered the greatest sci-fi work in anime history; you have to watch it to the end to know what I’m talking about. Every question or head scratch you might have about the show is answered. I give the original series of Super Dimensional Orguss a 4/10 and Orguss 02 a 3/10.