Space princess Fandora and her sidekick Que are bounty hunters in an age where warp travel has become a reality, along with space criminals. Fandora possesses the red, magic, "Jewel of Lupia" which she uses to fight with when conventional weapons are ineffective. In pursuit of space criminal Red Eye Geran, they encounter in the kingdom of Lemia a mysterious evil religious leader who has taken control from its legitimate rulers. This individual possesses a blue jewel which will unify the dimensions of the universe and start an age of peace or terror if it is conjoined with the "Jewel of Lupia." And so Fandora and he are fated to meet.
'Dream Dimension Hunter Fandora' is quite a compressed little anime, an OVA of 3 parts from 1985-6 whose genesis comes from the mind of Go Nagai. The narrative follows bounty hunter Princess Fandora and her shapeshifting monster assistant Nue tracking down their targets in a slipshod manner as per Fandora's qualities. In a twist of the fable of Midas, Fandora comes from a planet where the inhabitants are insanely strong. The rest of the universe simply is not designed for this strength- everything Fandora touches, even just steps on, will break unless she is wearing 'restraints'. Fandora is also a bombshell, having a naturally scanty
wardrobe. Nue is entirely dedicated to Fandora seemingly because of this.
Everything in Dream Dimension Hunter Fandora is a pure distillation of Go Nagai's work. From the depiction of a fantasy world in the future where everything has been made entirely commercial in a capitalistic system, and includes the depictions of varying fantastical creatures and races, to the dynamics of Nue and Fandora's relationship where Fandora is a ditzy bimbo with absolutely no good points except her looks and Nue is cynically smarter but enslaved to Fandora's beauteous body. It is the closest to representing the essence of Nagai's constructed ouvre of manga over the decades of working that there is in anime.
Go Nagai is a mangaka who has defined the development of manga and anime perhaps more than any other single person. Nagai started it bigtime with his manga 'Harenchi Gakuen' in 1968. A flagship work of the debuting magazine 'Shonen Jump', Harenchi Gakuen immediately became controversial. Portraying sexual themes as never before made so utterly deliberate and explicit in tone, he had created what we now call 'ecchi' (and thus would give Shonen Jump much attention, aiding it to be the pre-eminent shonen magazine today). While Harenchi Gakuen inspired the ire of innumerable parties for displaying characters whose sole goal in life is sex, voyeurism, and other depravities, this type of story caught on like wildfire and has come to dominate 'shonen' magazines.
Nagai would go on to not only expand the usage and prevalence of sexuality in manga and anime, he would also compose manga that led to new developments in the very fabric of pulp-produced manga for demographics such as shounen and shoujo; he would develop character archetypes that would become the standard of the industry; he would revolutionise the depiction of mecha; and violence; and teenagers; and pop culture; transforming magical girls; foment new ways of depicting horror and supernatural/fantasy; and create elementary change in action and comedy coding in manga: Nagai was simply unprecedented. His works achieved enduring popularity in entire generations of the Japanese peoples, his works and their style now truly imbibed into the national psyche.
Dream Dimension Hunter Fandora is a landmark in that it was the first Go Nagai anime creation instead of adaptation. Fourteen anime television series, seven anime movies, and another early OVA (Barabanba, a Hentai also from 1985) had already been adapted from his work. Here however, was Nagai's vision in its most pure form for anime. The process of going straight to the video market instead of airing on television gave Nagai greater freedom in exactly how he wanted to mould the plot, as illustrated by the pornographic nature of preceding Barabanba. As a kind of expansion and contrast of mediums, a light novel of Fandora would be concurrently released with the last episode featuring Nagai's illustrations.
Something that had also been more evident in earlier Nagai adaptations was the changing of his essential vision by the team producing the adaptation. With Fandora, this is much less the case as the production team were working directly with Nagai and also as the number of staff was much smaller with correspondingly tighter production protocols.
The result for Fandora is of eclectic focus in narrative, featuring a wide variety of the elements that had made Nagai famous, as well as being more extreme in the representation of sexuality and violence than previous anime. Just the tip of the iceberg would be graphic decapitation, gratuitous showering scenes, lesbian wrestling, and euphemisms of ejaculation. Nagai's mixture of comedy, horror, ecchi, romance, action, sci-fi, fantasy, might be a bit misogynistic and lacking in depth of portrayal in any one facet, but it sure is memorable and mindlessly entertaining.
The production team did a good job of making Fandora look fairly good for the time, and with a limited budget. The crew shuffled each episode, but the demands were fairly simple to meet. Scenes such as exploding spaceships, wrestling, constant running, jumping and dancing, shootouts, bursting things of different varieties- lots to give Fandora a feeling of kinetic exuberance. This is, perhaps surprisingly, on a par with the best of OVA's at the time like Area 88, though not good enough to warrant a bluray transfer say. The soundtrack and sound effects are more stock standard, utilising regularised synth and eighties pop sounds. Voice acting was also especially cheesy and over-dramatic, though suits this kind of story.
Fandora is the most articulate expression of Nagai's work in anime. As a consequence, it is lewd, silly, and ultra-violent in parts. Because Nagai's mixture is so very personalised and thus very much context based, Fandora has received little continued popularity past the period of DVD adoption, and has had little individual impact on the industry of its own. Fandora effectively is an anime built to the demanding sensitivities of a hormone-enriched teenager of the mid-eighties. It is entertaining as such, and contrastingly annoying for audiences who wish for some kind of developed timeless theme, a complicated narrative, or characters with backstory.Fandora is great because it excels at its function to provide entertainment for the lowest-common-denominator.