An anime OVA film from 1985 considered an important milestone for the cyperpunk genre. In a post-apocalyptic future where Tokyo only exists as a simulated reality, the delinquent motorcyclist Shogo Yahagi gains possession of a government prototype bike which leads him to discover the truth about the city.
Bike-loving Shogo Yahagi obtains the transformable motorcycle-weapon Garland and is soon hotly pursued by the military. While location-hunting for a film he plans to make with his girlfriend's roommate, he wanders into the underground world beneath Tokyo and realizes that he is not in Tokyo at all but a facsimile built inside a spaceship, controlled by the master computer Bahamut. He is in a Megazone, a ship built to hold a billion people, one of many that fled Earth in 2331 as the planet faced imminent environmental collapse. In order to reeducate humankind to avoid making previous mistakes, the Megazones are completely virtual worlds. The occupants are convinced that they are really living in the 20th century, and the central computer, Bahamut, is programmed to maintain the illusion until such time as humankind is ready to repopulate the slowly recovering Earth. However, alien vessels are preparing to attack, and Eve, a virtual idol constructed by Bahamut, contacts Shogo through Garland and begs him to help.
A video anime given a theatrical release in Japan, Megazone 23 shared many of the same staff as the earlier Macross, a fact exploited in the U.S., where it was edited into the unrelated Robotech series as Robotech: The Movie.
The sequel, M23: Tell Me the Secret, features radically different artwork from new designer Umezu. Set six months later, Shogo collaborates with the Trash motorcycle gang in an attempt to regain Garland from the military. The alien Desarg are causing considerable damage to the technologically inferior crew of Megazone 23, but amid the battle, Shogo is reunited with his girlfriend, Yui, in a series of bed scenes cut from the video but left in the theatrical release. Eventually, Shogo saves the day, and it is revealed that Megazone 23's journey has come full circle, and the time is right for humanity to return to Earth.
As the Megazone series drew to a graceful close, the anime business was thrown into upheaval by the runaway success of Akira. Mere moments after they laid their original story to rest, successfully delivering their characters from a gritty, urban nightmare, the producers turned right around and jammed them back in for the two-part finale M23: Return of Eve and M23: Freedom Day. Typically, these episodes were released abroad as Megazone 23 with no reference to the two earlier installments. Instead of the pastoral idyll promised by the end of the original, the story restores the characters to a Blade Runner-esque future. Amid mock religious musings about Eve, a virtual idol who shall redeem us all from our sins, life isn't all it's cut out to be in Eden, and new hero Eiji Tanaka is a motorcycle-riding hacker who gets recruited by the government to fight computer terrorism. Except that the terrorists are the good guys, and when Eiji discovers this, he switches sides and leads a revolution from the inside.
News broadcasts make it obvious that the government is lying. People ride around on bikes. There's a conspiracy within a conspiracy. The bad guys aren't necessarily all that bad. But while these elements worked well enough in Akira, they leave a nasty taste in the mouth when you know that they're being deliberately swiped in a cynical cash-in-annoying enough for the screenwriter himself to use the Arii Emu pseudonym also seen in the lackluster Bubblegum Crisis spin-off Bubblegum Crash.
Released in 1985, Megazone 23 is seen as an important milestone for the cyberpunk genre. Many have noted how its plot revolving around a simulated reality has strong similarities to, and may have influenced, later cyberpunk movies from the late 1990s, most notably Dark City in 1998 and The Matrix in 1999.
|Shogo Yahagi ( x ) ( x ) ( x )||
|Yui Takanaka ( x ) ( x ) ( x )||
|Yasuomi Umetsu||Character Artist/Designer||Part II|
|Shiro Sagisu||Music||A well known Japanese musician with a carrer spanning over 25 years.|
|Release Date:||Jan. 1, 1985|
|Release Date:||March 9, 1985|
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|Aliases||Megazone 23 Part 1|