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A OVA series directed by Masami Obari.
Tomoru skips school to hang out at the aviation museum, where he harbors secret dreams of becoming a pilot. He gets what he wants when Earth is attacked by invaders, and he signs up with the Earth Defense Force.
Despite such a hackneyed opening, Detonator Orgun plays some neat tricks with the traditions of robot shows. Tomoru lives 200 years in our future but has the problems and worries of any teenager. Despite living in a sci-fi fan's dream world, he's bored at the idea of a career in lunar finance and thinks the floating equatorial city he calls home is too uncool for words. An early scene in which Tomoru argues with a friend is a stunningly accurate prediction of that common modern malaise: a roommate who "helpfully" finishes all your computer games for you while you're out. Look out, too, for Kakinuma's tongue-in-cheek adverts for the Defense Corps, shown here long before Babylon 5 or Starship Troopers got the hang of postmodern irony. Finally, there's a sweet epilogue in which we discover that Tomoru has gotten exactly what he wished for, the chance to fly with the other pilots and someday inspire another wide-eyed museum visitor.
Scenarist Kakinuma draws the full benefit of writing directly for three hour-long episodes; without a TV series, comic, or console game to muddy the creative waters, Detonator Orgun has none of the compression or hurried storytelling of lesser shows. The robot battles and dream sequences are artfully done, though director Obari would use similar material to even better effect in his later Virus. Future You're under Arrest-director Kazuhiro Furuhashi also worked on DO as a humble storyboarder.
Unfortunately, the dub is another mediocre effort from Manga Entertainment's mercifully short-lived cost-cutting experiments in a Welsh studio, and elements that are deliberately evocative (such as Hirasawa's sub-Vangelis music) will strike many as just plain unimaginative. It's also a little jarring to see that the young Tomoru's idols are actually pilots in the Luftwaffe-one of those moments when anime and Japan suddenly seem incredibly alien.
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