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Megazone 23 Part I

 

Review by Chris Guanche

April 1, 2007

 

Summary

 

On a busy Tokyo highway, 18-year-old motorcyclist Shogo Yahagi is chased by the police for speeding. Thanks to his driving skills, Shogo is able to cut between cars and lose the police motorcycle. While taking a hard turn on a sidewalk, Shogo nearly runs over a 17-year-old girl named Yui Takanaka. Shogo tries to help by picking up Yui's purse, but she grabs it herself and tells Shogo it's rude to look through a woman's purse. Yui complains that she'll be late now because the trains have stopped running, so Shogo offers her a ride. As he speeds through the streets, he converses with Yui and learns that she works at the Hard Rock Cafe in Roppongi. Yui thanks Shogo for getting her to her destination on time, but she adds that his driving is terrible. Shogo asks for her number to take her on a date, and she tells him her shift begins at eight. Shogo speeds off, and Yui enters the building for an audition. After speeding through the streets, Shogo meets with his friends Shigeru Tomota, Tomomi Murashita and Mai Yumekanou. Their conversation is interrupted when a storefront TV begins playing the newest music video from pop idol Eve Tokimatsuri. As Shogo hangs out with his friends and watches a movie, Yui and several other girls perform in a dance studio. As the night's activities wind down, Shogo pulls into an underground parking garage and is surprised to find his friend Shinji Nakagawa there. Shogo spots a large bike and begins to examine it. Shinji explains that he took the Garland from his job because he was selected as a test rider. He runs off a list of high performance specs and explains that the Garland isn't even a sports machine. Shogo sees the name "Bahamut" on the bike, and just then a man named BD and two others enter the garage. BD tells Shinji to return the stolen Garland and not give them any trouble. When the men pull guns, Shogo cuts the lights and escapes on the Garland, while Shinji takes Shogo's Suzuki. BD orders the men to pursue, and Shinji is killed. Shogo takes the Garland to Coco's bike shop, and his friend Hiroki "Morley" Mori suggests returning the Garland to avoid trouble. Shigeru suggests laying low, but Shogo says he'll fight them because they killed Shinji. Coco paints the Garland red, and Shogo points out that what happened isn't on the TV news or in the newspaper. A friend calls and says that Shinji has supposedly gone to America for training. Hiroki drives by Shogo's apartment and spots BD inside. Since they want to desperately hide the Garland, Shogo plans to do the opposite and show it to the public. The next morning, Mai wakes up and goes into the living room of the apartment she shares with with Mai and Tomomi. Shogo calls and tells Yui to watch something interesting on Eve's "Only You" TV show. Shogo appears on a video call in segment, but the broadcast is cut off as soon as he mentions Bahamut. Unaware, Shogo talks to Eve and shows her the Garland. Shogo wants the TV station to examine it because he suspects it might be a military weapon, and BD dispatches men after Shogo.

 

Yui thinks Shogo is a weirdo for making her watch that, and Tomomi teases her by saying that perhaps Shogo loves Yui and was going to confess. As Shogo crosses an intersection, a truck crashes into a bus and several cars block him in. The drivers then attack Shogo, but he puts the Garland in reverse and escapes after crashing through a store. Several motorcycles chase Shogo on the highway, but he loses them by switching to another highway. Several Hargan motorcycles surround Shogo and fire grappling wires onto the Garland. As they pull him onto a truck, Shogo swerves and pulls away. A Hargan pulls into a truck to dock with transformation parts, and Shogo is shocked when it transforms into a robot. The Hargan fires a net at Shogo, and the Garland transforms into a robot and breaks free. A truck crashes into the Hargan, setting off an explosion that knocks the Garland off the highway and onto a playground. Shogo then calls Yui and asks if he can use her garage. When he pulls up, she tells him he was cut off. In the apartment, Shogo plays with the cat and discusses with Yui how Tomomi wants to be a movie director and Mai works at the Hard Rock to practice being a singer. Shogo has a job too - working at McDonald's. Out of curiosity, Shogo asks Yui if she has a boyfriend. Shogo takes Yui to a park and explains that the Garland isn't a normal bike. She tells him he should get rid of it, but he says it's too late. Aside from the thrills, he wants to avenge Shinji's death. Later, Shogo drops by Yui's apartment and accompanies her to the TV station to watch her dance for her side job. Afterward, she tells him she can't go out and leaves with a producer. Shogo follows them and pulls into a parking garage across from the hotel they're at. Yui takes a shower, and Shogo uses the Garland's infrared scope to scan the hotel and find her. The producer grabs Yui and kisses her, but she tells him he's being too forceful. Suddenly, the transformed Garland smashes into the room and grabs Yui. At the garage, Yui laughs about the Garland, but Shogo slaps her and asks what she was doing with that sleazy producer. Yui tells Shogo he ruined everything because she was about to get a leading role. He asks if she would sleep with a man just for a part, and she angrily storms off. Later, Tomomi visits Shogo at McDonald's and asks to use the Garland in her movie. Shogo thinks it's dangerous, but Tomomi promises that he can be the hero and Yui the heroine. As they drive around the city to scout for shooting locations, they're pursued by a motorcycle cop. Shogo ditches the cop by driving into a closed off tunnel, which suddenly becomes an elevator and lifts them to a strange place. Shogo and Tomomi are shocked to find an enclosed area with empty cities on the ceiling and ground. At the center is a large central core, and Tomomi spots people with her camera.

 

Shogo uses the infrared scope and hears BD say that they've cleared level six of Bahamut and are moving on to level 7G. BD says he doesn't think the man who stole the bike knows about the connection to Bahamut, and another man says that the military's plans will be impacted if the public finds out about Bahamut. BD says that even if those street punks discover that the Garland is a terminal to the Bahamut computer, they wouldn't know what to do with it. Tomomi captures the area on film and suggests leaving, but Shogo tells her to go back while he explores more. Shogo drives to the central core and boards an elevator. The air becomes colder as the elevator rises, so Shogo transforms the Garland into maneuver slave mode. The elevator takes Shogo to the city ceiling, and he realizes that gravity pulls up and down. A Flagger hovercraft appears and opens fire on Shogo. Shogo crashes into a building and uses his laser gun to destroy the Flagger. Shogo is chases into a subway station by a Hargan and several Flaggers, but he escapes and is shocked when he finds himself in space. BD opens fire from his Hargan Space Type, and Shogo dodges and fires back. BD fires grappling wires onto the Garland, and Shogo yells at BD to get away. BD tells Shogo to stand down because he wants to talk about something. Elsewhere, Tomomi reaches the surface and says to herself that the underground city is a perfect movie set. Shogo holds BD at gunpoint and asks him if he knew all along that they live inside a spaceship. BD answers that the military has known for a while, but it's Bahamut that is hiding the truth. He says that Bahamut is a computer controlling everyone and making them think they live in the peaceful 20th century rather than inside a spaceship. BD says that it's at least the 25th century, but Shogo thinks that's too farfetched. BD takes Shogo to a cliff overlooking a military base, which BD explains is their frontline defense against an invasion. He says that a large object is approaching them, so they've secretly developed advanced weapons underground. They're also attempting to shut down Bahamut and had cleared through six of the seven levels before the Garland was stolen by Shinji. The truth about their world wasn't supposed to be revealed until after Bahamut was taken offline. BD offers Shogo a choice: work for him, or die. Shogo refuses and shoots at BD, grazing his hair. Shogo then charges toward BD on the Garland and jumps over him, but BD doesn't even flinch. Later, Tomomi calls Yui and Shogo together for a meeting about her movie. The movie she wants to make is pretty much identical to what's actually happening to Shogo. Shogo is distracted, and Yui asks if it's because he has to be in the movie with her. Shogo says that isn't the reason, but he doesn't feel right about it. Mai returns home, ecstatic about landing a job as Eve's backup singer. She suggests they go and party, but Shogo leaves. Elsewhere, BD and another officer complain that the military brass is all talk and has no spine. Later, Shogo and Yui ride on the Garland while Tomomi films them for her movie. Yui tells Shogo how Mai was disappointed about Eve not showing up for a performance, and she thinks it's odd that Eve has never done a live concert. Disguising himself as a deliveryman, Shogo infiltrates the TV station and enters the studio. He sees Eve on a monitor and overhears several workers talking about her. What they say is shocking: Eve isn't real, and a computer generates her songs and movements.

 

Shogo speeds through the streets and is chased by a police car, but he evades them around a corner. He transforms the Garland into maneuver slave mode and kicks the police car after the cops run away. BD is awakened by a phone call and is informed that Shogo destroyed a police car and wants to speak to him. Shogo says that he knows about Eve and is tired of the military fooling everyone, but BD explains that Eve was created by Bahamut. Shogo declares that he'll reveal the truth to everyone, and BD laughs it off and reminds him what happened the first time he tried that. At the base, BD is informed that a Dezalg craft is approaching and that the final code for Bahamut level seven has been found. An alarm sounds, and Eve calls the Garland and asks the operator of 7G to open a file on the RAM cartridge. Eve explains that 500 years ago, Earth was devastated by war. The survivors left on evacuation ships to find a new home, but fighting again broke out, leaving half the ships unmanned. Now, Eve says the same thing will happen to Megazone 23, and Shogo realizes that the enemy are other humans. Eve says her program was designed to protect them, but she's about to be disabled. Shogo asks why they live in a fake late 20th century, and Eve explains that was humanity's most peaceful and prosperous time. Shogo calls Yui and asks her to meet him right away. At a restaurant, Yui asks Shogo why he looks so serious. Shogo tells Yui he wants to sleep with her, and she says he could say things like that more romantically. Shogo says she doesn't have to do it if she doesn't want to and storms off. Yui chases after Shogo, and he tells her he has no idea what he's supposed to do. Shogo and Yui go to a love hotel, and Yui turns on the TV. Shogo says he doesn't want to see Eve and kisses Yui. Mai watches Eve's performance, and Eve suddenly says she's going to be killed and is cut off. A new broadcast cuts in and reports that a tanker has been sunk in the Pacific Ocean by an orbital weapons satellite. At the military base, programmers crack Bahamut and begin transferring its functions to their control. Elsewhere, Shogo has sex with Yui at the love hotel. BD and initiates a coup and kills a high-ranking officer. He then calls Mai's father Eigen and asks for the support of the financial community. Eigen is pleased with the developments because the arms industry can operate openly now without deceptions. BD tells the captured prime minister that everything will be fine if he does as the military says. Shigeru and Hiroki run into Coco's shop and tell him that the military is deploying tanks throughout the city. At the hotel, Shogo tells Yui the truth about their world and that they live in a spaceship controlled by Bahamut. Yui asks about people who have been to foreign places like America and Europe, and Shogo says they were hypnotized at the airport to think they traveled there. Shogo tells Yui that she's the only person he can trust.

 

Elsewhere, Tivar II fighters are launched in space to engage the attacking Dezalg probe fighters. Shogo is woken up by noise and turns on the TV, which is showing a news report about tanks rolling out through the city. At a press conference, BD states that the unidentified enemy attackers have been destroyed, and that he can't mention the name of the attacking country yet. At the apartment, Tomomi asks for Mai's help because she only has one day left to shoot the movie. Tomomi begins to film the last scene on the street with Shogo and Yui, but they're interrupted by the release of a music video with Eve singing a pro-war propaganda song. Later, Shogo hangs out at Coco's shop and watches a new report about 1,200 young men volunteering to join the military, including Hiroki and Shigeru. Shogo goes out with Yui and Mai to eat at McDonald's while Tomomi edits the film. Just as she finishes editing, a man enters the room and shoots her in the head. Another man calls BD to tell him she's been taken care of, and BD orders him to retrieve the negatives. Shogo and the others return home and find Tomomi's body. Mai runs out of the room in tears, and when Shogo notices that the negatives are gone he realizes BD is responsible. He tells Yui he will return to her and rushes off. Eigen calls Mai and tells her he wants her to come home because he's worried about her. An officer reports to BD that they've analyzed the Dezalg fighter and have determined that Dezalg technology is 50 years ahead of their own. Other officers speculate about numerical differences, and BD tells them they can't go back and can only think about victory. Shogo drives into the abandoned city and declares that he'll destroy Bahamut. Two Flaggers chase Shogo, so he hides in a building and snipes one of them. Three Flaggers lift Hargans onto the scene, but Shogo has already broken through into Bahamut.

 

Shogo prepares to destroy Bahamut's interior, but his laser gun runs out of ammo. Shogo climbs onto a metal beam to avoid Flaggers, and he attacks a Hargan and pulls the pilot out of the cockpit. He grabs the Hargan's laser gun and shield and fires at another Hargan. He then flies up to another area and finds BD waiting for him in a Hargan. BD says he can't leave this to his incompetent men and tells Shogo he has no idea what kind of world they live in. Shogo says that if comes down to a battle of stubbornness, he won't lose. BD then pulls out his light saber and slashes into Shogo's shield, but Shogo jumps back and fires his laser gun. BD blocks Shogo's shots until the gun runs out of ammo. Shogo tries to use the gun like a club, but BD goes on the offensive, stabbing and kicking the Garland repeatedly. He asks Shogo where all his stubbornness and energy went to. He says that Shogo should now know the limits of his strength, and he picks up the Garland and tosses it down an elevator shaft. As the elevator lifts Shogo away, BD is informed that another Dezalg ship is approaching. At the apartment, Mai cries as she says goodbye to Yui. She asks Yui what she'll do by herself, and Yui says she'll wait for Shogo. Elsewhere, an injured Shogo wakes up inside the Garland's cockpit when an Eve music video appears on his monitor. After opening the hatch and crawling out of the cockpit, Shogo finds a manhole cover. Leaving a trail of blood behind him, Shogo uses a stick to help him walk and trips on the ground. After struggling to stand, Shogo begins to walk again. Thinking about everything that's happened, Shogo casts aside the stick and walks on his own.

 

Commentary

 

So that's the first part of Megazone 23, which is widely acknowledged as the first successful OVA. Maybe part of that success is due to the movie taking chances that you can't take in a broadcast series. The violence and gore is definitely there, and you don't usually see R-level sex scenes in any broadcast anime, let alone a mecha series. But there's much more to Megazone 23 than sex and gore, because one of its biggest strengths is its story. If the computer-manipulated world depicting the 20th century sounds familiar, that's because it's also the same story of The Matrix. Given the major story similarities, you have to wonder if Megazone 23 was an inspiration for the Wachowski brothers. Aside from an original story, the characters here also stand out. Shogo isn't some whiny teenager thrust into the middle of some war with no choice but to fight. He's an adult who vacillates between the freewheeling lifestyle he wants to have and the growing realization that it's all a lie. Also, although he's highly skilled with motorcycles, he's a newcomer when it comes to mecha. This plays out realistically when he loses his final duel with BD at the end. For fans of 1980s real robot shows, Megazone 23 is the perfect fit. And although Shogo's story is continued in part 2, it's not quite up to the level of the original.

 

Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

4 out of 5 stars
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Megazone 23 Part I Megazone 23 Part I

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