What They Say:
Today, Kei Katsuragi’s only concern is the love of his life. It doesn’t really matter to him that he has more than one love after all as a pilot for the Freedom Space Corps, he might be dead tomorrow! In the future, war has changed, and Kei is all too familiar with all the horrors it can bring. Atomic, biological and chemical weapons are all in use, but worst are the dimensional weapons – horrifying ordnance that can tear apart time and space. As it happens, his next mission is a risky gambit that involves just such a weapon; a desperate move in the war over Earth’s space elevator.
During the mission Kei disobeys orders, and his brash actions have consequences beyond just a big kaboom! Kei is thrown into the future and finds himself caught in an entirely different struggle between the militaristic Chiram and the mercantile Emaan- with himself as the prize. Will this womanizing hotshot pilot make it back to his own time, or is there something more to Kei being the ‘singularity’? Find out in this complete series set, containing all 35 episodes.
Pretty decent Dolby 2.0 on both the English and Japanese tracks with no distortions on playback. US Renditions had, during the VHS era, completed English dubs on 17 episodes before abandoning the project due to low sales. The acting was decent particularly in a time when there was little emphasis on quality dub work. However, the scripts were… well… a little on the hammy side, and I still can’t say ‘differentiated idioblast’ with a straight face even after hearing it back in the early 90s.
The picture is very crisp and clean. The colors are vibrant and nice. I don’t have access to previous releases or formats currently so I have nothing to compare to on that regard, but what’s here is pretty good, especially if you’re into 80s era TV. Both Discotek Media and prior licensor ImaginAsian are credited with work so I’m not entirely certain who is responsible for the actual picture quality. There are optional subtitles as well; green ones to translate the opening and closing themes, yellow for the actual show.
There’s a slipcase containing a watercolor depiction of the main cast of good guys with the title masthead in the upper right corner. The back contains the text of the ‘what they say; section split in two with screen shots above and below the text. The bottom displays the technical information. Inside is a clear plastic case with a paper insert showing the same material as the slipcase, inside is a case containing 5 separate DVDs.
There’s a white-ish background with cast members similar to the front packaging cover along the right side of the picture. Episode button options listed vertically along the left side. The opening theme plays continuously. In the upper left are options to play all episodes and offerings to play the first 17 episodes in English if desired.
The only extra present is a very extensive art gallery found at the bottom of the last disc’s episode options.
Super Dimensional Century Orguss is a fun show to have an opportunity to write about, not just as a fan of 80s mech shows but as a collector who has seen this show gain a fascinating history in the American anime industry.
Orguss takes place initially in the year 2062. It’s a time of war and the world has advanced to have technological wonders such as an elevator that can go into space. There’s also a technological nightmare known as the space/time oscillation bomb, which can rip a hole in reality as we know it.
Into this comes Kei Katsuragi, a fighter pilot for the Freedom Space Corps along with his friend Olson Verne. In a series of crazy events, Kei winds up in front of such a bomb and tinkers with it… with truly devastating results.
Kei awakens decades into the future to find Earth is…. Not what it should be. There are various versions of people stretched across the world while two factions: the Emaan (a group of traveling traders) and the Chilam (a military minded force) each have their own interest in Kei. The Chiram relentlessly pursue Kei as he’s referred to as a “singularity,” and the possible key to restoring Earth to what it once was like. As things stand, various forms of evolution now occupy the planet from parallel dimensions, such as a version of Earth where dinosaurs evolved as the dominant species instead of dying off. Another example includes the crew of the Glomar, the ship which scoops up Kei. They’re somewhat similar to humans except they have two tails coming from their heads (in addition to their natural hair color). The females are only able to bear children until their 18th birthday, after which people do not consider them female.
Being a bit of a womanizer, Kei has a bit of an interesting time adjusting to the largely female crew and many of his new surroundings. He comes to have a bit of a rapport with Mimsy, the deputy captain who initially dislikes him a bit due to the trouble his very presence has caused. This goes double for Mimsy’s fiancé Slay who doesn’t like how close Kei comes to be with Mimsy. There’s also the Glomar’s captain Shaya, who pilots the ship and oversees business deals largely. Her family rules the Emaan lands. One of the more intriguing crew members is Jabby, an oversized reptilian looking creature from an Earth where his race evolved from earlier dominant species. Finally, we have Moohme, an android Kei purchases when he comes to this hodgepodge Earth. She looks like a little girl, but can repair his fighter, scamper around effectively and often comments about wanting to be Kei’s wife, which reminds Kei of the pregnant Tina he left behind before the bomb.
Soon after he arrives, Kei is assimilated into the Glomar crew but his fighter is badly damaged. It’s modified into a variable fighter incorporating Emaan tech. Jabby names it Orguss after one of his world’s gods. Shaya is ordered to bring Kei home to Emaan country as he’s identified as a singularity, who may be the key to what’s happened in this world. However, the Chiram also want Kei as they may have their own plans for this world’s future. Along the way, though, Kei finds some serious repercussions of the bomb blast which affect his life more personally and unexpectedly than he would’ve ever dreamed possible.
Orguss was made during the heyday of the 80s ‘real robot’ shows, in which mecha were used as common battlefield vehicles or general transportation as opposed to the ‘super robot’ shows where the title vehicle is a heroic mech meant to save the day (IE, Voltron). Much of the appeal (to myself at least) was not only in seeing giant hunks of humanoid metal beat the crap out of each other, but also seeing potentially decent sci-fi concepts combined with dramatic storytelling on screen in a way that wasn’t present much of the time on U.S. television.
Watching this show play out, it’s interesting to see how concepts of time travel / manipulation are used here. These and some of the fight sequences are the better elements of this show. Also interesting is how the consequences of this world mess with Kei directly and indirectly as he tries to work his way through things. I’ll say here he does see his friend Olson again, but it’s in the most bizarre of circumstances. The thing about the show for a while is that its pacing gets monotonous in the menace of the week sense. Fighters come and Kei has to defend the crew in Orguss, repeat as necessary. Eventually, when Kei meets those consequences, though, the show gets going a bit and is at its strongest, and the ending is one that is logical and somewhat sobering.
Its general tone at times felt more somber or more nighttime at points than most real robot shows of that era. This might be to the music used from what seems to be a TMS library of sorts, as I recognized several pieces also used in Space Adventure Cobra and Sherlock Hound by Kentaro Haneda (Metal Armor Dragonar) which could range from spirited and whimsical during battles to rather downbeat in quieter scenes. Still it had an interesting ship design in the Glomar as Kei just jumped into the Orguss seemingly hanging from the underside of the ship at all times and slammed into action. Also, it’s fun to watch Kei’s relationship to the crew (and beyond) evolve a bit. His relationship with Moohm is just as fascinating as they grow to have quite a friendship beyond human and android.
The history of this show in both Japan and America is rather interesting. The Orguss fighter is based on a design the show’s director Noboru Ishiguro worked on previously; Super Dimension Fortress Macross (which many of you reading this know is the first story in Robotech). In episodes 27 and 36, you can see the Orguss defending the Macross bridge briefly before blowing up. The Orguss was also a part of Revell’s Robotech Defenders model line, which was being created before Harmony Gold had Carl Macek adapt and combine three anime for the TV series. Advertising company Big West had often presented Orguss as part of the Super Dimension series alongside Macross and Super Dimension Southern Cross. However, for some reason when Robotech was created, the third series that came with Macross and Southern Cross was not Orguss, but instead was Genesis Climber Mospeada. This was a bit odd considering that Orguss was worked on by Macross veterans Ishiguro and character designer Haruhiko “HAL” Mikimoto.
Orguss took its time getting to America even with all these elements going f or it. A sequel OAV series called Orguss 02 was brought to the U.S. in its entirety by Manga Entertainment before the original could make it here. The TV show was dubbed for a while by U.S. Renditions but scrapped half through the project. Later though it was released as one of ImaginAsian’s experimental “DVDs produced to order” sets alongside Nobody’s Boy Remi and Cat’s Eye, but this release also worked only so well financially.
Orguss is worth watching to understand 80s real robot genre was like. In a decade when the anime medium was full of such science fiction, this was a decent one to enjoy. As people are currently fascinated by time travel concept in movies and shows, this would likely be a good one to take a chance on, whether people are into anime or not.
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Discotek Media / Eastern Star
Release Date: September 29th, 2015
Running Time: 800 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1:33:1
Panasonic 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3