Battle of the Great Demon Beasts: Demon of Steel – Classic Horror Story With Mecha

Introduction Stuff

At this point, we are just riding the Toshiki/Toshiro Hirano and Masami Obari power hour. Hirano as the main director and Masami Obari as the animation director again. Power duo and I’m not going to argue against it. A powerful duo and I really like that. The different thing here is that Kouichi Oohata, the guy literally behind the mechanical animation of Gunbuster, worked on this one too. This came out in 1987. Two years before Gunbuster and Akira came out and both of those things are going to be relevant in some way when discussing this ova.

The weird thing about this ova is that I kind of found it randomly searching Hirano online and seeing what was available for me to watch in a short manner. So while I have heard its name through the Retro Mecha podcast, I only saw its Japanese name everywhere and thus didn’t know that this was the ova the two hosts mentioned. Something which makes me happy because I thought that I would see the classic sort of mecha ova like Iczer 1 or Dangaioh again and what I found was something different in ways that made me really happy.

The Story

Demon of Steel is a story that starts with one scientist named Takuya, who shows up to the most majestic island of science wonder technology that has ever been seen. A lab for UN scientists named Sansara. This follows the events of three years ago at that time, 1999, where he left working for this island after an event that almost led to his death and the fact that he was working for an asshole that takes all scientific credit for all research found by his employees. So yeah, obviously who wouldn’t want to leave after that and become a professor at a university instead? That just makes sense.

Yet, Takuya’s at that time partner in crime, Haruka, decided to stay and continue his research. So this is three years later where Takuya received a letter to kill Haruka. How mysterious.  This is something which obviously concerns him and makes him show up. Haruka, of course, doesn’t remember sending that letter at all which adds to some of the mystery that is going on there. Nothing like deep research projects attached to populations from an unknown civilization causing people to go crazy to set the mood between two former brothers in arms like this. It’s a classic but good story.

Really Good Characters

For less than an hour in run time, Demon of Steel does a lot of immediate leg work in establishing relationships in its small, focused cast of characters. Just by Takuya showing up and getting through the science island’s security system gives us a lot to work on here. For instance, there was obviously a relationship between Takuya and the security officer that lets him on the island. She obviously had a major thing for him and there is some distinct attraction/tension between the two starting there and carrying on throughout the ova.

It also continues to Takuya and the other scientists that not all get names because they worked with him before and still like him. 

With that short amount of time, it is pretty easy to tell when a character is completely unhinged. Sure, there is an obvious way it does it by Takuya getting the letter or the random phone call he received which was counter to how Haruka was acting. Pretty easy stuff for sure, but it is done pretty well. There is that quick meal scene where you can see something is wrong by the way Haruka is really laying onto Rui, his girlfriend. Not to mention how distant they are or how they rarely see each other. As easy as it is, there is something controlling Haruka that is ruining the lives of people who care about him in any sort of deep way. It is very good horror writing.

Demon of Steel and Akira

I have to put this in here because it’s obvious how dipped into the 1980’s Demon of Steel is. Especially since it dives into a lot of those ideas that were there. For instance, the motorcycle protagonist. Pretty common idea from the 1980’s. Takuya literally drives around a light blue colored Akira bike. Which might come from the manga considering that it started in 1982. Hirano and his crew must have been fans of it, because I swear the big he rides around the science facility is almost the same. It adds a lot to his character that not only is he smart and educated, but he is a badass who has a motorcycle and wears a jacket that says danger on the back.

Not to mention the story of the Akira film at least and these are very parallel to each other. After all, one of Akira’s many ideas involves two almost brothers, Kaneda and Tetsuo, facing off against each other. Tetsuo loses his ability to connect to his world as he gains PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER and Kaneda feels like he has to put a stop to him. Same idea here between Takuya and Haruka. In the end, the two of them face off against each other in a mecha battle. A mecha battle that is more organic in nature and are powerful enough to challenge the gods themselves. Sure that kind of comes out of nowhere, but I think the characters in that moment are the point, so the mecha battle is an extension of their conflict. Fantastic animation all the way through it too. 

Conclusions of Demon of Steel

This is such a gorgeous ova. There is so much detail being put into almost every aspect of it. The character designs are very weighty and look exceptionally grounded while maintaining the personalities that you would expect them to have. Same with all the detail of the island from the dock to the labs to the dining areas. It would be a nice place to live if there wasn’t an egomaniac doctor who took all the credit AND a professor going insane because he is being used as a pawn from something from the ancient gods or something. Then the mechanical animation, which is more organic in the mecha battles, is stunning. Absolutely worth watching for that alone.

Demon of Steel is such an unexpected pleasure. Even if I did hear or read about it before from some podcasts I like listening to, it is still surprising when I didn’t have the context to it myself. Even anilist gave such a vague sort of synopsis about what it’s about. It is another really solid mecha horror ova which has good characters and decent build up character wise to something that you didn’t expect to happen. Or maybe it was so easy to tell what was going to happen, but it didn’t matter because it was well paced and constructed. For an hour in length, absolutely worth watching it if you can find it. It is on youtube btw. Just give it a search and it should be there! A good watch.

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