Gunbuster March

by wfgodbold

Ah, the 80s. When men were men, women were women, robots were super, and Gainax was just getting started.

Gunbuster wasn’t the studio’s first production, but it’s the one that put them on the map; this six-episode OVA series (later edited into a 90 minute movie) has it all: super robots, invading alien monsters, action, romance, sacrifice, heartache, and (surprisingly) a decent hard SF basis.

The series is set in the far-off future of 2023 (well, it probably seemed far-off in 1988); mankind has spread out into the solar system, and discovered that we’re not the only inhabitants. A race of giant space monsters (literally; they’re called 宇宙怪獣 (uchuu kaijuu)) are discovered headed towards earth, and it takes specially designed space battleships and giant mecha to fight against them.

And when you have giant aliens that must be fought with super robots, you must (of course) have teenagers to pilot these robots; that’s where our main characters come in. Noriko Takaya, the orphaned daughter of an admiral in the fleet who went missing at the start of the war is the viewpoint character, and her goal is to go into space with upperclassman Kazumi Amano, the top student at the Okinawa Space High School for Girls.

After one-on-one work with the coach, she succeeds in being chosen as the school’s number two candidate, and Noriko and Kazumi are sent into space for further training. On their first mission, they encounter the relativistic hulk of Admiral Takaya’s flagship; while exploring the wreckage, Noriko notices that the ship-time is merely a few hours after the ship went missing.

Time dilation is a major plot point, and provides much of the tension between characters. Basically, the show ends up being The Forever War, only with high school girls and super robots instead of powered armor and universal conscription.

It’s worth watching the whole show; if you don’t cry at the end, you’ve got no heart.

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