Ozma – 01-03 Review
The series’ inspired dialogue really helps getting to know the characters in an easy and quick way. Just within a few minutes this series made it clear that Ozma’s main-character probably never will be the brightest lightbulb in the room.
Ozma 01/03: The Sandworms aren’t called Ohmu
My first thought: A desert-planet? Is it a Dune-ripoff? Surprisingly it isn’t, instead it’s about submarines in sand and pirates protecting a princess from the evil upper echelons of civilization. I have to admit that I preferred the Dune-ripoff to that. Then again anyone who knew Leiji Matsumoto would probably know exactly what kind of series this will turn out to be. Having only six episodes to tell its story apparently means a lot of problems for the series, though and even besides that I don’t think this is really one of the must-see-series in the Spring-Season.
In an endless desert without a speck of greenery, Sam Coyne rides a motor bike, looking for something, when he sees a girl being chased by seemingly-hostile ships. Sam saves the girl, who’s name is Maya, who might actually not be a criminal on the run, but royalty… Before returning to the safety of his group’s base, he sees a giant monster rise out of the sand. It’s the monster who is his brother’s enemy… The sand whale Ozma.
Of course this rule is only for men since the weak ones are always the women who need to be rescued, right?
Gundam may be a childish franchise overall but it sure knows how to survive the change of time. You’ll probably see Gundam-series even when tomorrow’s Mainstream-shounen spits on the image of gold-shitting brats who have to stop a war by having the biggest stick in the room. Now when I look at Leiji Matsumoto this name some may have heard and some haven’t then the first thing that comes to mind isn’t 2012 but something like the 80s or 90s. Shounen was different back then and I don’t want to say with that it was better or worse for it. All I’m saying is everything has its time. Ozma has its time – and I’m damn sure it’s not 2012.
This series is different from what you usually get to see these days but don’t let that convince you it’s better than the rest out there. The flaws this series has are problems that didn’t need to be there. Being good in the 80s doesn’t mean I have to praise it today. I judge a series by the standards of the time it was released in but Ozma was released today. Adaptations of old need to be updated. I know there’s a case to be made for classics to remain true to its original form. But seriously that’s the kind of high-brow thing one should consider when talking about really good stuff. Besides when it comes to adaptations the source-material should never be considered to be a holy grail. A book isn’t a movie and vice versa. Animes often forget that with mangas nowadays, always working hard to stay true to the source-material only to squander it all by doing a bad job of inventing an ending that doesn’t exist yet in manga-form.
All that, though, isn’t what really troubles Ozma. It’s nostalgia. Of course it’s not a homage or anything. Homages shouldn’t be something stupid like doing the same hogwash the honoured works did. Ozma is so clearly Leiji Matsumoto that we’re clearly looking at the flaws and strengths of his works. But if I wanted to see those I would watch them, I don’t need the homage to see the same shit again. Ozma has a hard time convincing me why I should like it. Today it may be different, back then it was just ‘another one of those’.
With that said I should get to the specifics, I guess. First thing that got on my nerves while watching it: Technobabble. I guess we can all thank Star Trek for that one becoming ‘cool’ at some point. I take Mouretsu Pirates preachy expositions every day over meaningless technobabble, though. Although I have to admit that the only thing this series actually takes serious is its technobabble. Playing submarine in a desert is a truly astonishing idea. One may suggest that water might have made a more convincing performance as background but what the hell, being different is cool, right? So now I have to watch people talk about sand as if it’s water and people diving into sand and behaving like they’re submarines. One thing about hard sci-fi that is more relevant in animes than the book: Show, don’t tell. In book-form it’s a part of the setting-description to get all scientifically but in an anime you’re left then with fancy names and it-kinda-works-like-this-logic. Instead of dull technobabble, I think it would be better to do something about the characters. Mouretsu Pirates’ style of dealing with technobabble isn’t ideal either but at least they don’t make it sound like the dialogue is going over my head with its own logic.
He uses that excuse every time when he’s talking about women…
The characters aren’t interesting also. They seem like boring one-note idiots. They perform their roles and that’s it. That main-character-boy is so boring, I didn’t even care about his idiocy. Okay, he has this goofy flair of a character who’s supposed to be endearing, I know. The problem is that the story made him into an entirely passive character for the sake of plot-convenience. The logic of the plot goes like this: He happened to be there, he happened to be able to rescue this princess, he happened to take her with him back to the ship, he happened to want to protect her and so on. All this just happens with him being the typical energetic optimistic fool. But there’s no character-related “I do this and that because of this and that. And I know that this and that will happen because of this and that.” which would show that he has a brain in his skull he actually puts to use.
And the rather passive dull way of characterization just follows the way the plot develops. It’s a sluggish process that has the usual mixture of “Boo-hoo-secrets” and wishy-washy action. You have the secretive princess that (of course) needed to be rescued, the stupid hero just waiting to save the day, the grown-up character with the burdensome past looking at the picture with the flashback looming over it like a vengeful spirit and you have a villain menacingly saying… stuff. There’s also some setting-crap people talk about. The setting has some interesting elements but it doesn’t really make use of those until this point. But those Ozmas are eerily reminiscent of the Dune-sandworms, aren’t they? Also, listening to the OP gives me the creeps, not in a musical way but that guy’s singing about a hero finding a sacred land. And the third episode also hinted at the fact that worms have found water apparently. Now that’s the kind of boring plot-development that will definitely send this series into the garbage-category. My god, that blathering idiot of a main-character not only saves the princess but also has to become the savior of the planet? Now that’s stereotypical stupidity I can hate without qualms. One thing that this series would need to become at least decent would be time but instead it just stumbles from one necessary scene to the next without giving everything a natural flow which would make it interesting to follow the plot. All in all it’s a rather underwhelming series after three episodes.
A series like Ozma should be about the childish adventure of saving the day without being bound by real-life worries and it also should be about some guys acting tough and cool. In both categories the series fails so far, I think. The childishness is stupid and the tough act seems hallow to me. It’s still Leiji Matsumuto so if you’re a die-hard fan then you still might get something out of this. But everyone else… not very likely that you’ll be entertained in that case.
1st Episode-Rating: 6,5/10
2nd Episode-Rating: 6/10
3rd Episode-Rating: 6,5/10