Dragon's HeavenReviews

Dragon’s Heaven

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Summary

A millennium has passed since the end of a war that devastated Earth. In the year 2600 of the Emperor’s calendar, the Brazilian Empire dispatched the ship Lampe Adams to conquer the missionary city Kerutoria. The Emperor was furious that the city had captured his treasures and assigned their retrieval to one of his generals, Elmedine – a sentient movementer robot from the previous era. However, Elmedine refused his orders. During the previous era’s war, Elmedine engaged in combat with another movementer robot named Shaian. At the war’s end, Shaian’s human operator was killed, preventing him from returning to his mothership. Left behind by allied forces, Shaian went into a thousand-year slumber next to a wrecked battleship. A girl named Ikuru travels on the back of an animal through the desert and comes across ruins from the old era. Her presence reactivates Shaian’s systems, and he emerges from the sand. Outside Kerutoria, Ikuru takes a bath while reading Shaian’s operation manual. Ikuru introduces herself and asks Shaian what he thinks of the people in the town. He responds that they gave him lots of Tenshi Amakuri, a delicacy. Ikuru explains that she’s protecting the people from bandits because while they can build weapons, they don’t know how to use them. Shaian is embarrassed at the sight of Ikuru naked when she gets out of the bathtub, so he asks her to put on clothes. Ikuru mentions that her father was a machinist, which is why she didn’t have trouble understanding Shaian’s manual. She also mentions having lived in a town to the north that was destroyed by the Brazilian army. Ikuru notes that the townspeople gave Shaian all that Tenshi Amakuri because they’re counting on him to help protect them. She explains that years ago it was easier to get, but now it’s only available via the black market. Later, Ikuru eats inside the city while Shaian explains what happened to him after the last war. Shaian then prints out a photo of Elmedine and asks Ikuru if she’s seen him. She answers that she hasn’t, but she knows that Elmedine is a general in the Brazilian Army. Shaian explains that Elmedine operates best alone, but he was designed to outperform Elmedine by having a human operator. Shaian opens his cockpit and tells Ikuru that he and his human operator become one to fight. He then recalls destroying multiple enemy Gampes during the last war, but then Elmedine sniped his human operator and killed him. Ikuru agrees to work with Shaian if he gives her his half of the Tenshi Amakuri. 

Elsewhere, Elmedine’s forces destroy Las Katas Castle and march off the captured prisoners. A tank suddenly appears and fires at Elmedine, but it only succeeds in destroying his cloak. Elmedine returns fire with his rifle and destroys the tank. Shaian tells Ikuru that he’s going to stay for a while because the city has a repair facility. He then looks out into the desert and tells Ikuru she has 20 minutes to prepare for their first battle together. Elsewhere, the airship Holmain Tzwicke leads a fleet heading for Kerutoria. The commander, Sir Orionis, is informed that they’ve intercepted Elmedine’s message about destroying Las Katas and heading to Anies Beta. Ikuru suits up and is impressed that Shaian can spot the enemy so far away. Shaian wants to retreat if Elmedine is among the enemy force, noting that Ikuru is unfamiliar with piloting and he also doesn’t know what Elmedine has learned in the last 1,000 years. Ikuru comments that Shaian talks like her father and is a coward. Orionis launches as the leader of a group of Woodsman tanks that land on the ground and speed toward Kerutoria. Ikuru and Shaian take off and move to intercept the Woodsman tanks. Shaian dodges their fire and destroys them with one shot from his rifle. The airships retreat to inform Elmedine that someone in Kerutoria can use Dragon’s Fire. They approach his ship and send a message with light signals, but his subordinates don’t understand. They decode the message as stating that a dragon is at Kerutoria, and Elmedine orders them to reverse course and return to Brazil. Shaian returns to the city and drops off Ikuru, and he notices damage to his leg. Elmedine’s ship returns to the capital, and he replies to the Emperor’s message that he’s returned due to an emergency. Elmedine heads into a repository and reactivates three dormant Gampes. Ikuru is woken up from her sunbathing nap by Shaian, who has covered himself up with a cloak since he’s undergoing repairs. Shaian asks her to fight while he’s under repair, and a robot attendant tells her she needs to be fitted for a battle suit. As the airships approach Kerutoria, Elmedine tells the Gampes to destroy everything. Ikuru shows off her battle suit, which the attendant explains will amplify her strength. Ikuru complains about the battle suit not having an emblem on the chest or more color than white. Elmedine’s fleet approaches and launches its Woodsman tanks and Knight Fighter planes. Ikuru fires a powerful cannon shot at the enemy and destroys much of the ground force while also damaging Elmedine’s ship. Elmedine spots Ikuru and orders the Gampes to attack. Shaian calls Ikuru and tells her to transmit her video feed so he can watch what’s happening remotely. Shaian tells Ikuru to run when she spots the Gampes, and Elmedine sneaks up behind her. Shaian speeds out of the city to save Ikuru, and Elmedine offers to spare her life if she gives him the cannon. Shaian continues forward after an explosion goes off, and he calls out to Ikuru. He finds her on the ground, and she tells him that her battle suit is jammed because she fired the cannon. Elmedine emerges from the rubble and is joined by the Gampes. Shaian fires two back cannons, but Elmedine dodges and engages at close range. Elmedine then fires at Shaian’s head, but Shaian grabs him and picks him up. Elmedine notes that Shaian will kill Ikuru if he fires his weapon, but Shaian counters that she’s lucky. Shaian fires his cannons and destroys Elmedine and the Gampes. Ikuru is unharmed, although her battle suit is wrecked. She cries over Shaian and is surprised when he emerges from the blast crater. The two then return to Kerutoria.

Commentary

Among the many OVAs produced in Japan during the economic boom of the 1980s, Dragon’s Heaven is unique. Not so much in its story, which is pretty standard mecha fare even for the time, but in execution. The opening exposition plays out in a live action six-minute sequence featuring six-foot tall models of Shaian and Elmedine meeting in combat. After this, the OVA transitions to an animated portion that has an art style unlike anything else for its era, mostly closely resembling the late French artist Jean Giraud, aka Moebius. For an OVA with a runtime of just under 30 minutes, there’s only so much backstory and worldbuilding that Kobayashi can accomplish. There isn’t really any room to flesh out the ancient war, the current situation with the Brazilian Empire, or Shaian and Ikuru as characters. Still, for what little we have here, it’s well executed, especially the animation. Having not read Kobayashi’s original manga, I can’t speak to how well the anime works as an adaptation, but I can say that I wish this could’ve been a full fledged series or a feature length film.

Overall Rating
3/5
Dragon’s Heaven Info


Director:
Makoto Kobayashi

Writer:
Ikuyo Koukami

Mechanical Designer(s):
Makoto Kobayashi
Osamu Kobayashi

Character Designer(s):
Toshihiro Hirano

Musical Composer(s):
Yasunori Iwasaki
Takashi Masuzaki
Takanobu Masuda

Video Release:
Japan 02.25.1988

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