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Harmagedon

a.k.a. Genma Taisen

a.k.a. Genma Wars

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Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Madhouse/Kadokawa Shoten
Format: 1 movie
Dates: 3/12/1983

Earth is doomed. The great beast, Genma, is heading to our galaxy poised to destroy everything in his path. Fortunately, Princess Luna, a powerful telepath from Transylvania, learns of Genma’s coming arrival. Joined with the ancient, cybernetic, alien-warrior Vega, she must assemble a force of espers to combat this evil and save the galaxy, once and for all.

summary by Ender

 

Reviewed: 05/16/2008 by
Grade: 31% av-Ender

Highs: That’s a good one

Lows: Oh boy…

There’s a scene in Harmagedon where the unearthly evil known as Genma learns of a plot, by do-gooders on Earth, to destroy him. So, taking a page out of the lazy-villain-handbook, he sends out two imps (one tall and one short for variety’s sake) to destroy our heroes. It was at this point where I stopped the movie and thought to myself: in an earlier scene, Genma all but plows through a galaxy, killing all but one creature — why would an invincible, alien energy source employ imps to do its dirty work when it could easily destroy our world, heroes and all? Also, why only two imps? Why not an army? Are these the only imps in the entire universe; they just happened to be on Genma’s rolodex? Questions like these pop up constantly through out Harmagedon. Questions the movie obviously doesn’t have the time nor the intelligence to ask itself.

The movie was based on a series of novels by Ishinomori Shotaro and Hirai Kazumasa — two men best-known for creating over-the-top adventure serials — and was helmed by Rintaro, who showcases the same loutish directional style seen in The Dagger of Kamui. However, whereas Kamui was merely long, Harmagedon cannot decide on its own run-time: the movie takes nearly an hour establishing one character, only to rush through several other characters in mere seconds. Most of the story involves Princess Luna repeating the point that Earth is in danger to some hapless, young psychic, and then fighting with one of the imps whom seem to appear out of nowhere and cause only the slightest damage to their surroundings — they probably didn’t want to steal all of Genma’s third-act glory.

The fights lack any sense of imagination or excitement: Luna’s warriors fire a rainbow of colors at the imps, and the imps blast back — occasionally, they all fly around. The animation is torpid as characters slug around, afraid that sudden movement might break the film. Keith Emerson supplies an entire Toys R’ Us keyboard full of light tunes that has no place in an elevator, let alone a movie about demons and telepaths. I could just see the original tagline: an assault on all the senses!

Otomo Katsuhiro worked on the character designs, but it’s not something he should keep on his resume. Otomo must have been bored reading the script and traced over some older drawings; the end result is a sleepy-looking group of rejected Sesame Street characters. The worst offender is Vega, who resembles a giant, yellow tuber, and not a powerful warrior. There’s also a blue-skinned, kabuki fortune-teller that runs around somewhere in this film; she probably just slipped right past the entire production crew’s eyes when they weren’t looking.

The ultimate problem with this movie is that it limits itself: it never fully takes off and embraces it’s ludicrous premise. I was able to see parts in the story where whole ideas of grandeur could have sprung up, but these were glossed over for reasons I don’t know; budget perhaps? It might seem unfair to bash on a movie that’s been rotting in the dark soil of bad-anime-land for so long, but sometimes it’s worth digging up fossils just to imagine the beast that could have been… just remember to lay them back in the ground.

 

Harmagedon can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.

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