Localization Talk and Other Nonsense
This is another instance of this older series not even getting officially localized until Discotek put it on Blu-Ray. This series started to come out in 1982 and it didn’t even appear in the US Market until the late 2010’s. Do you know how crazy that is? It’s insane and it’s another amazing flex of Discotek showing the world of retro mecha anime to a lot of people who are interested in these shows. Especially since I feel like God Mars is far more influential to anime that came after it than one would expect and it was not even in North American eyes for such a long, long time. In my opinion, the Brave series wouldn’t even exist without God Mars.
I also would lie when I say the entire person I watched this 64 episode sci fi, super robo epic, only to have a reference for this show when watching Mighty Orbots. Yeah, I didn’t even know that much about this show besides the synopsis I saw on Tubi and that it’s based on a short manga by Mitsuteru Yokoyama of Giant Robo and Tetsujin 28-Go fame. I have barely heard anything about God Mars from any of the retro anime circles that I am in and I was only curious about it because Orbots was attached to it for reasons that come later. Still one of the best decisions that I’ve made because there were a lot of very good, unexpected surprises in this show. Sometimes going in without much expectations can just work.
God Mars’ Story: Part 1
God Mars is a series which has three distinct arcs. The first one being the conflict between Earth and the alien race the Gashin led by Emperor Xule. The series itself takes place in 1999, 17 years after our main protagonist Takeru landed on Earth. He was originally sent to destroy the Earth with his mecha called Gaia. If Takeru didn’t destroy the Earth himself, there is a bomb inside of his mecha that could destroy Earth if it is destroyed. So yeah, the plan was for him to destroy Earth. It’s too bad that Takeru’s parents had a plan and sent 5 different mecha to protect which forms the titular God Mars that is an indestructible robot for the most part.
So yeah, Takeru grew up with his psychic powers and mecha that he can’t tell anyone about and joined the Crusher Squad. Everything started out as a combination of an Ultraman and Superman story because Takeru has to keep his powers hidden from everyone else in his squad so he can save the day while fighting Xule’s forces sent to destroy him and Earth itself. Then there is the drama that occurs very early from Crusher because he discovered and eventually, there is that push for peace that led the Crusher Team to Gashin to end the conflict. It starts with Earth and moves to a cool space adventure series and it feels pretty seamless.
Part 1 Talk
This part is very simplistic when it comes to characters and the plot itself. For instance, I already mentioned Takeru going from hiding his powers to being a major asset to the Crusher Squad because they cannot defend against Gashin’s team themselves. There is also the drama of Marg, Mars’ brother, being brainwashed and forced to lead an invasion against Earth. Plus a woman named Roze who followed along with Marg’s invasion and even took command once Marg passed away. But that is an arc of revitalization for her and Mars finding an inner peace in himself while facing so much trauma and stress from everything Xule threw at him.
The major selling factor of this part, besides Takeru’s and Roze’s stories, was the visual flair? Not many characters were even important or did anything separately here. The Crusher Squad, for instance, have names but besides the leader Kenji, they felt too homogenized. Then Xule himself was a pretty classic bad guy with no real brain power. What stood out for me in this part is how great the direction was in conveying a good sense of mood like Captain Harlock’s anime and the visual feast of not only the Six Combination God Mars, but seeing what details like a rocket punch turning into a robot and then back. It was amazing. Same with the various gigantic enemy robots. There is just so much good flair in all of it.
God Mars’ Story: Part 2
It shouldn’t be surprising when I say that this is the part that made me really love this show. Suddenly, we are pushed into a much more complicated sort of story that had so many incredible bits of intriguing bits of material with a massive space war on a far away planet. It all starts when a mysterious girl named Flore is found supposedly being chased by something. She ends up on the new space station, Ceres, that is run by the Crusher Squad. While she is calm with everyone else, she isn’t as receptive to Takeru. She just can’t stop being afraid of him even if Takeru did nothing wrong. This is the beginning of a longer arc.
What was the main concept of this series? The eradication of Minus Psychic types on Flore’s home planet Marmelo. Flore is a minus type that managed to escape persecution from her father Gyron. A father that only plots to kill minus types. That inherent drama has led her to her new home at Ceres Station. Takeru is revealed to be a plus type. So of course Flore would be scared, lash out at him, and try to summon more minus types for help. Help which comes in the form of a wooden looking space pirate ship that invades Ceres station for their own reason. Their leader Gashu comes from Marmelo too and is waiting for any moment to strike back to take his home land.
Eventually that small conflict between Ceres Station and Gashu’s invasion becomes a three way struggle between when Marmello’s influence becomes stronger and stronger. There is a lot of pointless drama between Ceres and Gashu’s pirates because of how much pride each side has in doing things their own way. Of course, the two do decide to side together to face Gyron. Crusher Squad and Gashu’s pirates join forces for planetary battle on Marmelo. Slowly, that planet starts dying and Flore gains some sense of revenge against her father and the minus people have a place to live. It’s a very good sort of story with great execution and every single detail of this story having some sort of importance. It was very exciting.
Part 2 Talk
Jumping out of the gate here, this isn’t a flawless sort of arc. It is a very good sort of macro level arc. The build up from the three parties of conflict into two was pretty good. Generally well thought out with a good sense of momentum. That is why it is such a good bit of work put onto it too with a solid arc around Flore for it too. There are so many little awkward moments that generally don’t work as well as they could. For instance, Mika wanted to commit suicide after Gashu was killed in combat. She just met the guy an episode or too ago and she is willing to die for her crush she got just. This was her first bit of characterization ever and this is what we got.
Which isn’t completely unusual considering that’s how a lot of this arc does things for Crusher Squad. You know, both for better or for worse. Kenji went from the one person in the Crusher Squad to give Takeru any benefit of a doubt and is suddenly the one person that doesn’t trust him anymore. Naoto has a pretty great moment where there was a fake God Mars going around destroying everything and he was the one who found the evidence which proved Takeru was innocent. Akira is just a character who is there and Namida is just a kid. The most interesting characters are Takeru, Gashu, Flore, and literally everyone not in the Crusher Squad.
Which is all ok, because the story is really good. It still looks amazing compared to shows that came around the same time. This arc comes with a lot more space battles with spaceships, which automatically makes it like catnip for me, because I’m obviously this show’s target 40 years later. There were a lot of great turns that never felt out of place. Which makes sense because the story of this anime series is definitely carrying it over the characters. Which is good for me. Most space opera shows are more focused on the spectacle of the planets people visit, the drama of each encounter, and space battles too. This second part had everything I wanted.
God Mars’ Story: Part 3
After the time in outer space in which another fascist space society was toppled, the show turns inward. As in, examining Takeru himself. On his way through the atmosphere after returning from everything that happened in part 2, he gets surprisingly caught by Xule. Somehow, he is still alive. The main point is Xule put magic rings around his wrists that only appear when he uses God Mars or just his psychic powers. The rings slowly take away his life every time Takeru does anything. This 18 year old kid is dying to save the galaxy and it’s causing all sorts of drama that he should never have faced. Anime, am I right?
With that description, I feel like it is easy to see what the story is. Xule is deliberately attacking the Earth and causing great geological disasters that Takeru has to stop or the Earth is gone. So there is this drama of Takeru doing fine at first when defeating these threats and then he is slowly dying. Even if only some people knew about it directly, everyone in the Crusher Squad knew something was wrong. Roze shows up because she hears a rumor about Takeru dying and she really loves him. At some points where Takeru got weak enough, the mysterious Roze Knight with Marg’s voice when he isn’t guiding Takeru to keep going in his dreams.
In that time of disappearing hope and despair, there is hope. A new way for Takeru to get his life back and for him to defeat the worst figure in the universe, Xule. A figure that wants to conquer the universe and Takeru is his only stop. Deleting Takeru from existence would only seal that rule, but Takeru continues to fight back, eventually wins, and has a love life on top of his normal life. It’s such a good bit of ending for them too and I love all of that there too.
Part 3 Talk
This is something of a very simple and straightforward sort of arc and the characters are being put into the main focus here for the first time. Which means it’s a good thing that the character writing, for the most part, is very well done in the high level of drama that only older anime can do properly. Takeru’s mood shift is very well executed and is honestly the most that we’ve gotten out of him since the first part when Marg is fighting against him. There is also a growing amount of empathy towards him as the Earth tries to find other ways to fight Xule then using Takeru again and again. Also, Namida gets some sense of personality when he gets psychic powers for some reason? It’s not a lot, but it’s something and Namda is trying his best.
For all the talk of simple visuals and other things because this show still looks good and even has a cool silver surfer-like character who flies through space on a surfboard (the Roze Knight), this part also had the worst looking episode of the entire show. It’s the episode where Takeru gets his life force back when fighting through space hell. I’m sure the use of shadows was on purpose, but there were a lot of cut outs moving around that were barely detailed at all with such awkward movements. I got the goal of the episode and when it was achieved, I was confused by it until the end because nothing in it really worked. That is literally the only major dark spot of the entire show.
In a perfect world, this post should have been either a lot longer or cut into three parts to represent each part of God Mars. But I feel like I am already pushing some things around by typing a somewhat long post about a show that most people do not even know exists. It is so much fun on every level even if it isn’t perfect at all. Especially when it looks so good because of the tiny details in mechanical animation that are so stunning and the production behind all the spaceships and others other designs. All while having some very classic shoujo designs on top of it all. This show is a treat that everyone should watch even if not every detail of it makes sense at all at times. 64 episodes of really good time even if it is maybe a bit too long.