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In the 22nd century, humans are bred to order, raised in laboratories, and selected for their roles from birth by a tyrannical government exploiting the planet to the verge of ecological collapse. Godot is lucky enough to be raised by the robot Olga, a warm, gentle mother-figure who looks like a fetishist's dream girl in her shiny red outfit and can transform into a whole range of fabulous toys and vehicles. He grows up to be a sensitive and intelligent young man who rebels against the harshness and cruelty of his society. While training to be a space pilot, he learns that he has a brother, Rock, who is one of the ruling class, selected for his intelligence and ruthlessness. He also falls in love with Lena, an upper-class girl, and, because this is a crime against the State (and against Rock, her fiancé!), he is sent to a harsh prison planet. He is offered his freedom if he will capture the Space Firebird, a mystical creature whose blood can bestow immortality and everlasting power. The faithful Olga, who has followed him through all his troubles, joins him on his mission; she has always loved him and is determined to help him use the powers of the Firebird to revive the dying Earth.
Based on Osamu Tezuka's long-running series of 12 interlinked tales first begun in 1967 in the manga magazine Com, this magical love story contains many elements common in his work-the recycling of characters (Black Jack is the prison planet commandant), the use of comic characters and musical numbers straight out of Disney, the contrast between inner beauty and outer sham, supportive and exploitative relationships, and the visual inventiveness that makes every frame a pleasure. There are unexpected roles for Frederik L. Schodt and his fellow translator Jared Cook, credited along with SF writer Sakyo Komatsu as "planning brains."
The phoenix in Space Firebird is an eternal being who visits all parts of space and time in the course of the long-running Phoenix manga, which only finished in 1988, shortly before Tezuka's death in February 1989. The earliest chapters, created at the height of Tezuka's powers when he was also writing Astro Boy, are said to be the best. The third, fourth, and fifth chapters of the original were also animated for video by the Madhouse studio. The one-shots were supervised by Rintaro and seem to be a short-lived attempt to follow SF with the ten remaining chapters, though only these three were made. Rintaro's Phoenix: Karma (1986, Hi no Tori: Hoo Hen), also shown in cinemas on a double bill with Time Stranger, features the firebird's manifestation in ancient India, where it witnesses a conflict between a pirate king and a sculptor, who is, of course, making a statue of a phoenix. Toshio Hirata's Phoenix: Yamato (1987, Hi no Tori: Yamato Hen) moves to Japan for a retelling of the story of Yamato Takeru. The last episode, Yoshiaki Kawajiri's Phoenix: Space (1987, Hi No Tori: Uchu Hen), features the Earthbound starship ZFX-302 finding an icy planet whose occupants prefer death to life.
A 13-episode Phoenix TV series (Hi no Tori, 2004) was directed by Ryosuke Takahashi, and spanned the various incarnations of the story from Dawn to Future. It was coproduced by New York's WNET/13 PBS station.
|Phoenix ( x ) ( x ) ( x )||
|Osamu Tezuka||Original Concept||Known as the "godfather of manga," Osamu Tezuka is Japan's most prolific manga creator to date with over 700 original series to his name. Tezuka is widely credited for pushing the medium to its mainstream popularity after World War II.|
|Release Date:||March 15, 1980|
|Romaji:||Hi no Tori 2772: Ai no Cosmozone|
|Release Date:||March 15, 1980|
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|Aliases||Firebird 2772: Love's Cosmozone
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