OP: 「オズマ」 (Neverland) by FTISLAND
「砂のクジラ」 (Suna no Kujira)
“A Whale of Sand”
It’s been a long wait, but Spring’s finally here, as well as the new anime season. And so, to start things off, we have the Sci-Fi series, “Ozuma.” The first episode comes out a bit generic and has some cliches, but there’s definitely some potential here.
Based on Matsumoto Leiji’s unpublished work from the 1980’s, Ozuma brings together the creator behind the classic Space Battleship Yamato, the man behind Escaflowne’s character design (Nobuteru Yuuki), as well as one of the episode directors behind Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (Ikezoe Takahiro). Combined with an interesting premise with a devastated Earth as a backdrop and given my love for Sci-Fi, I remember putting this on my watch list almost immediately. After watching the first episode, I have to say, the result does meet most of my initial expectations.
The episode itself starts off with the main character, Sam Coyne (Kakihara Tesuya), roaming the desert in search for a sand whale known as “Ozuma.” His search ultimately takes him into a chance meeting with the mysterious and beautiful Maya (Tanaka Rie), who finds herself under pursuit by the military. With the subsequent appearance of the “Ozuma,” Sam decides to abandon his initial goal and instead, takes advantage of the distraction to rescue Maya and shelter her with the help of fellow traders, led by the female Captain Bainas (Tanaka Atsuko). With the military in full pursuit, Bainas ultimately makes the decision to continue sheltering Maya, fleeing into the desert sand.
Now, I reckon a fair amount of people are probably considering the plot a bit generic and cliche. But if there’s one thing I learned from watching anime over the years, it’s that these so called “generic and cliche” series tend to end up much better than anticipated. In fact, there’s quite a few shows that have utilized such aspects to great success. And from the positives I’ve seen from the first episode, there’s no reason to expect that this won’t be the case for Ozuma.
For instance, Ozuma possesses quite the catchy opening, performed by K-pop/K-rock band FTISLAND. Surprisingly sung entirely in English, the lyrics match quite well with the desert theme, as well as the opening sequence itself. I can’t say I’ve heard any songs from this band previously, but if this song is any indication, I reckon I’ll definitely have to take a few peeks at their discography when all’s said and done. Then, there’s the unique art style of Matsumoto to laud as well. Yes, it’s quite retro, but it gives the series a sense of unique flair, while also bringing back quite a bit of nostalgia and memories of anime from years past. Furthermore, there are definitely some potentially memorable characters here as well. You have a tarot-card reading Captain in Bainas, a mysterious and beautiful girl in Maya, and even Char from Mobile Suit Gundam! Well, not exactly Char, but hey, he’s quite similar. And last but not least, there’s also the fact that the first episode’s developments and the original premise set up interest regarding what may happen in future episodes.
And you know what? The more I analyze the series further and the more information I dig up regarding Ozuma, the more I feel that the initial episode’s generic introduction is merely a feint. With Matsumoto claiming Ozuma to be an “an epic space opera that entwines exciting sci-fi action and a suspenseful story” while “tackling the ultimate questions of life and existence,” I reckon the best of the series has yet to come. I’m not quite exactly sure how it’ll develop from here, considering the many possibilities that could arise from this point forward, but there’s definitely potential here to develop into something good. It would help if the CGI mixed a little better with the art, but I suppose a fair amount of slack can given, considering the fact that studio Gonzo is working with an unpublished, 30 year old script and retro art.
All in all, Ozuma is one show I reckon I’ll watch until its conclusion. Yes, having “only” five episodes to develop the remainder story isn’t as ideal as having an entire one cour of 12-13 episodes, but I’ve seen many great series built on the backs of five or so spectacular episodes. If there’s one thing to note though, it’s that Ozuma is definitely geared toward fans of the Sci-Fi genre. Considering Matsumoto’s past works, this doesn’t come as a surprise. However, those who aren’t quite enamored with Sci-Fi may not find as much to like in this series compared to those that love the genre.
*At this moment, I am unsure if myself or any other writer will cover Ozuma past this first episode.
**The Season Preview should be out around the end of the week.
ED: 「ウタゴエ」 (Utagoe – “Singing Voice”) by Minami Kizuki
No whole clip of the opening?
Anyway, this looks like a good potential sleeper hit.
Yeah, not yet eh. Typically Divine’s the one that uploads and encodes any OP/ED’s, but he’s busy with work and finishing up the PV’s for the Season Preview. If we get our hands on it though, you’ll see it when I update the excerpt on the front page. 😀
It’s cool, I can wait. I’m just glad to see you blogging your own stuff instead of picking up other people’s shows, even if you may not fully pick this one up. This is kind of late, but welcome to the blog team!
Please tell me I’m not the only one who kept thinking of Star Wars while watching this.
I was thinking more along the lines of Mobile Suit Gundam, but I do see your point actually…
Or Last Exile, or Dune…
Off topic: Enzo, thanx for Bakuman 24 post, gonna read it ASAP.
actually, “world design” was screaming Dune for me… the whole oceans of sand, ruthless military regime smelling like harkonnens, etc.
@Kusabi – you’re welcome.
The whole thing about sand and sand monsters reminded me of Dune.
The Spice Must Flow!
just a random question to you zephyr. are you the HON hero zephyr ( bird) ?
Well, seeing a remake work like this remind me of popular remake of Casshern Sins. Hopefully it’s not one of a sleeper hit of spring season.
Really? Escaflowne? I don’t see it. I guess his designs have evolved since…wow, 1996. Didn’t think it’s been that long.
Looks like Steam Punk genre, looks epic. Definitely gonna follow this.
And OMG! #3 pic: A Char Clone! Nice!
More like they bred a Captain Harlock clone (the hair is a perfect match) and put a Char mask on him.
I might watch the new Yamato when it comes out next year, but I’m not sure about this. Doubt this will reach the same level of greatness that GE999, Captain Harlock, and the original Yamato did.
Looks pretty and very nice old school animation styles. I like it. Will follow.
The art for this show is bugging me for some reason.
Maybe it’s because the background art seems semi-realistic, while the character designs come of very strong, with thick (some too thick, IMO) outlines.
can’t stand it
Jeez, kids these days, the art is suppose to be retro and reminiscent of old school stuff like Yamato, Galaxy Railroad or Saint Seiya. Escaflowne looks a bit different though.
I’m 30 years old.
I remember liking Escaflowne but I don’t think I’ve watched the others you mentioned.
Sounds like you missed all the good anime from the 70s.
Sometimes taking a break from all the trendy new stuff and revisiting the classics is nice. 🙂
Is that some hot eraknoplan action I see?
Just six episodes??? Most shows have trouble telling a story with 12-13…I mean, just look at Symphogear’s crazy pacing. Ozuma’s meager episode count almost mandates that it be short, sweet and simple (Emphasis on plot simplicity, not necessarily thematic simplicity), or be doomed to mediocrity for a lack of screen time…then again, nothing’s impossible, and it is Leiji Matsumoto that we’re talking about here. I’m cautiously optimistic… (Maybe more after I’ve actually seen this episode…)
I see no problem with BRS plot development despite the show only has 8 episodes.
I haven’t seen BRS yet, so I can’t comment on its plot pacing, but I would imagine that BRS doesn’t have a horribly complex plot, at least in comparison to that of your typical space opera that has a legion of political and/or alien factions, especially not that of one that attempts to be “an epic space opera that entwines exciting sci-fi action and a suspenseful story” while “tackling the ultimate questions of life and existence” in a (large and overarching) way.
Which is why I’m saying “large and overarching” is difficult, if not impossible to achieve with just 6 episodes. Matsumoto never made any claims about the magnitude of Ozuma’s plot, and my guess is that if there were a missing modifier clause that he intentionally lopped off the end of his statement, it probably says something like “…(in a small but significant way.)” rather than “…(large and overarching.)”
(in brackets)= modifier clause
woah there cow boy! character designs do look truly retro… female characters seem really manly lol its like saying the beautiful lady gaga ughhh they do seem tranny like… expressive gaga? yes… but beautiful? haha
Makes you think how far had anime art evolved from this 1990’s look up to the moeblob art we get today, right?
Nazo no Kanojo X this season will also be animated in old school art to be loyal to the manga’s art style.
So I watched the thing, and I must say that there was a lot of potential in what I saw. There were several interesting characters, primarily the “Char,” the Tarot Captainess and Maya. (The male lead and what is presumably his love interest/childhood friend seemed pretty generic, on the other hand) There were some interesting ideas as well, including the “sand submersible” and “sandsea warfare” concepts. But my concerns about the short length remain. With so few episodes to work with, the production team has their work cut out for them; they’re going to have to maintain an extra fine balance between character and plot development. Shallow/unsympathetic characters, poorly paced/superficial plot or any combination thereof are all that awaits them should they fail to do so…
Hmm, if I’m correct, the Crunchyroll version has the English opening song while the TV broadcast has the same song in Japanese. I wonder why…
I think first episodes should always be given a look.
The thing that bothers me the most about this show’s art is the pointy How-to-kill-a-walrus chins on the women.
Poor old gonzo, how you came to mean wasted potential over the years.
Well, after wasting Guilty Crown, PIG (or their subsidery) came back with RINNE NO LAGRANGE.
Show us what you can do with this. After all u started off with blue submarine 6 which is of similar length.
This was unexpected! I couldn’t find any info about this show, so I didn’t know
what to expect. I’m pleasantly surprised. I like the retro style with the modern-ish
Looks like a potential great series! I hope RC continues to cover this…
Starting was a little slow, and felt somewhat awkward. Voice acting was a little off. I don’t find myself being too emotionally invested in MOST of the characters and their interaction. The military seems pretty inapt, and I don’t think I’ll be able to take them seriously.
Right, all that aside, back to the characters, particularly captain Bainas (voiced by quite the veteran VA Tanaka Atsuko). A commanding voice with a glare and attitude to match. Confident of herself, to the point of coming off as aggresive. Long flowing hair, an awesome cloak and uniform, an A++ Zettai Ryouiki grade, and most importantly, a scarf! DAT FASHION SENSE, DAT PRESENCE. I think I’m in love.
This is how you do a space opera right!
I’m didn’t know Ozuma was only slated for 6 episodes. I really like what I’m seeing and that’s quite disappointing T_T
Old School Draw Art, i like it
and i also like the “Dune” Set Anime World. a Sand Whale, like in Dune. Is this Anime the 2nd Timeslot filler from this “Roman Hotspot Timetravler kinda Anime”?
I know that style of character design from almost anywhere. I might have not watched much from Leiji Matsumoto but I am a huge fan of Galaxy Express 999. This goes to the top of my list.
OMG a new Matsumoto Leiji series! Definitely following!
…only 6 episodes though? 🙁
Looking at the picture, ED6, it seems that this is an old picture taken a while back – back when Sam was only a kid, and the Captain was young.
If you look closely, the Captain was looking at another boy, similar to her age – and that boy has the same hair colour as Char.
It’s possible they may have also been romantically involved as well. O_o In any case, great catch suff, good sir. 😀
From the way they look, yes. Since there are only 6 episodes, I think this is probably going to be the way they are going to go with it.
You’re sharp! It’s such clear-cut, straight-forward and generally effective plot direction that I’m willing to wager heavily that you’re right…Zephyr’s prediction of romantic implications shouldn’t be too far off the mark, either…
This is anime, children.
This sci-fi is pretty good in spite of its “old age.” Matsumoto is famous for drawing tank battles on desert when he is not drawing locomotive flying across galaxies. The first two episodes did not disappoint.