Macross. Macross is one of many bits of lightning caught in a bottle that was produced in the early 1980’s. I’m amazed that it happened, but I am so excited that the original series came out and that it is so good. I am still waiting for a physical release of something Macross related to come out ever since that Big West deal came out because I want it badly. Please, let me replace my crappy old dvd of Macross Plus: Movie Edition with a wonderful looking blu-ray. Please? Or just anything from the franchise because it is one not to be missed by anyone because I am sure there is a Macross series out there that anyone would love.
So why did I start up this post talking about Macross instead of Orguss like the title says? The two are connected in a lot of ways. For instance, a lot of the same staff that worked on the original Macross also made Orguss because it came out sooner after Macross came out. Same director, same distinctive character designer, same music producer, some person behind mechanical design and everything else. The only reason why I have a copy of Orguss (and Megazone 23 because it’s in the same Macross gene pool) is, in my theory, probably something to do with the Big West deal that was announced a year or so ago. That’s my theory. Please don’t quote me on that ok? I don’t know what’s going on.
With that said, there is a lot going on with Space Dimension Century Orguss. It is officially the second anime isekai anime after Tomino’s Aura Battler Dunbine. In the real world of 2062 with the world at war, there are the dangerous dimensional bombs that are more powerful and destructive then anything on Earth. Pilot Kei Katsuragi (age 20) and his buddy Orson D. Vern are given the task to help hit an enemy’s orbital elevator with one and Kei gets this mission immediately after jumping out the window of a woman he was sleeping with because her father hates him. So anyway, everything goes wrong because of Kei and he ends up in another world.
This is a world where people from all dimensions show up. Humanoids from all sorts of timelines shown up except this is the Earth with names changed slightly and different factions exist. More and more areas of the Earth change randomly without any sort of long term notice, so there is clear chaos going on with people fighting for survival. The only hope is to find these things called singularities, of which Kei is one, to save the Earth or at least stop it from exploding or destroying people now. Luckily, Kei shows up to the kinder Emaan group who are the romani of this world as they live by traveling and trading in their floating ships.
Then the opposing force, the Chiram appear who are highly militaristic show up who are also searching for these singularities. But Kei is able to fight them off in his so called “out dated” Bronco II transforming jet and he joins the crew of Glomar, the emaan’s ship as their protector. Or so he says, but one of the Emaan, Mimsy, is very cunning and she gets him to stay by buttering him up and even upgrading his broken Bronco II into what is eventually called the Orguss (or god of war for some people). The mission is simple for now, take Kei to the Emaan homeland and then plan further and that go gets harder as the Chiram attack more and more in different ways.
Space Dimension Century Orguss feels like it has a lot of connections to modern isekai series. Orguss starts out as a male power fantasy series where Kei is a hot headed individual who constantly crushes on girls because he sees himself as a ladies man as he is a hot shot pilot who can do whatever he wants. That carries over to this mysterious world he finds himself in as he automatically sees an attractive woman, even in a scenario he doesn’t understand, and automatically hits on them. It was his one trait besides being an expert in piloting because he never thinks about the future, only the present. When you are young and cool, what is more important than the present?
As the war between the Emaan and Chiram continues to get worse after showing up home and the real introduction of the robot race, the Mu, become a larger threat that wants to obliterate everything that isn’t them besides the two passengers on the Glomar, Taii the warrior who fights sometimes, and Mome the robot girl that does a lot of work on the Glomar and is infinitely cute, all of them want to get rid of the human form and just exist for them. They start out as a larger threat, but the Chiram and Emaan join forces to fight them because the Mu are too strong. One of unions of convenience that form because neither of them wants to die. That leads to a complicated finale where the two still don’t trust each other and sometimes sabotage each other.
Anyway, as that war builds up and plots are revealed, the state of the world is said to be Kei’s fault and he is the only one who can fix it. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t do that earlier like the many moments he leaves his crush Mimsy (who loves him too but can’t say it yet) to continue to love her fiance Slay or stopped himself from grabbing Mimsy’s shoulder when standing next to her while watching a sunset, but this is where Kei starts to wants to save the world for the people around him. His own thoughts of the present damaged the future for not only himself but literally everyone on the Earth that still exists.
It is a very slow reveal from learning who that hot and skilled female pilot, named Athena, is. Remember what I said about how the story started? Does that give enough of a hint? Also, Olson is older than Kei from from dimension stuff and sided with the Chiram to save the world for Kei’s problems here too. So once again, he works on shouldering the responsibility of what he caused to the point where it stresses himself out. You can tell this that after a long while, Mimsy and Kei get together, have a child, and Kei is horrified and terrified about that. It gets to the point where his character fights to save the world to change the world into something stable.
So Kei’s story is good and other characters like Olson, Athena, Mimsy, and even a character I haven’t mentioned, Shaya, have their own sort of arcs in this strange world and it fleshes it out a lot because she is an important figure among the Emaan. Shaya is good and deserves respect for his own arc.. But for all the good ideas and concepts written into it, the cast is way too big and I don’t know enough about them to really love them as much as I could. Like, I barely know a lot of people on the Glomar because the show isn’t interested in them or barely does anything besides maybe a moment or two that are quickly forgotten because they are just there to serve a purpose.
I say this when Space Dimension Century Orguss does a lot of work in establishing the world, the technology, the way people live, the different factions, different locations, and so many other things there too. It is a world where you can feel that different countries and people from different timelines and dimensions are just fighting to survive the next day because the world isn’t stable. That comes from characters living in the dimensional shifts or the results of dead civilizations from them. So there is a lot of effort put into this that takes away from us getting to know more about the characters the show has been around for a very long time.
Is that a good trade off? Yes but no. I keep thinking about some other works these people have done, (it’s Macross), and that series was able to pull off so many things with its own complex ideas and characters while having a world that feels larger because it’s set in space. It’s not a fair comparison because they go for different things and stories, but there is a clear mark down to where you can feel like you know everyone on the Macross during a war effort from the cultural aspect and other things while that is something lacking in Orguss where the main ship is smaller and yet so many of these characters are shallow or don’t do much. It’s weird.
But I like Space Dimension Century Orguss even if it didn’t hit as hard for me as Macross, but there is a lot of careful effort to make this exist. Like, there are a lot of shortcuts in animation with the amount of cool looking flight scenes and dog fights with transforming mechs are in a lot of stock footage. Same with the lack of different models of mecha so every group uses their own mecha and they don’t change. It’s good because you know where they are from and it’s also a short cut because it allows the animation to go faster and cleaner. Macross wasn’t a production power house either, but it doesn’t have the same sky background in a different color every episode.
With that, I am going to give Space Dimension Century Orguss a good. It’s fun, has a lot of heart, puts a lot of effort into creating its world, and has good stories for the character it focuses on. It lacks in some departments, but it also has a lot of good strengths and creativity that makes it worth watching. You know, even if the beginning is unpalatable because of who Kei was before his journey was explored a bit more too. This is a great journey of someone becoming more self aware around these scenarios. If you like Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, I think you should check this one out too.