Back when I penned my first anime review, for Geneon's deliciously provocative and bizarre Gregory Horror Show (review here), I reassured myself that I would never fall to the more base efforts of the genre. I wasn't going to turn into a maniac for Naked Schoolgirl Mecha Tentacle Sex Super Comedy Sport or whatever ballyhoo I (ignorantly) assumed that the Japanese were shoveling out for fat kids in Inuyasha shirts to gobble up like celluloid pizza rolls. Why, I would only go for the highbrow stuff: the thought-provoking, well-scripted morality plays that just happened to be acted out by huge-eyed, large-breasted waifs with impossibly styled and colored hair.
So why the hell do I like Fight! Iczer-One so damn much?
It's got everything I tried to convince myself is wrong with the genre: giant robots, naked schoolgirls who co-pilot aforementioned giant robots, slimy probing tentacles, ooey-gooey pulpy monsters, spaceships, and a library of absurd sound effects that turn even the most furious battle into a cartoony bleep-fest. It's poorly written, nonsensical, confusing, and mixed together with a few good-sized dollops of gratuitous violence and nudity. It's trash, plain and simple.
But it's entertaining trash, dammit! A throwback to the overindulgent 80's, when animation was choppy and even the heated battle scenes (of which there are plenty) are backed up by a soundtrack funkier than sardines smothered in chitlins and onions, it's not high art by any consideration, but lordy is it fun!
Presented in three acts, Fight! introduces us to Iczer-One, an android charged with saving our sorry human hides from the invading forces of the alien Cthulhu. Now, before you get all excited, let me explain a bit about these "Cthulhu." Unfortunately, they're not a race of Starspawn chilling with the Mi-Go in Dunwich at the Whateleys' house. They seem, instead, to be a race of hot chicks with color names like Cobalt, Sepia, Sir Violet, and Big Gold (sadly, my hopes for characters like Chartreuse, Taupe, and Lady Burnt Umber were kept in the crayon box). Or are they people-possessing tentacles that look eerily similar to bean sprout penises? Or are they armored robots? Or are they schoolgirls in rejected Slipknot masks? Or are they a herd of charmingly Lovecraftian beasties ready to be minced by Iczer-One's infringariffic laser sword? It's never quite explained.
Anyhow, Iczer-One can't act alone. She needs a human being to "synchronize" with, in order to help pilot her alien smashing mecha, Iczer Robo. She chooses Nagisa, seemingly the least qualified person for the job. She's your typical Japanese schoolgirl stereotype, flashing v-for-victory handsigns and demanding that she be let out of the watery pod that Iczer-One has locked her into in order to combat the Cthulhu's giant robot forces. Unfortunately, the Cthulhu know all about young Nagisa, and in between sending Iczer-One to alternate dimensions (an act to which, I kid you not, Iczer actually cries out "Oh no! An alternate dimension!") to battle aforementioned pulpy monsters and occasional Lovecraft reference, they take it upon themselves to kill Nagisa's parents, an act which sends her over the edge and right into Iczer-Robo's sterile robotic interior to take her bloody vengeance. The Cthulhu have plenty of more aces up their sleeves, including a "superior" copy of Iczer-One named Iczer-Two, a duo of robotic thugs named Reddas and Blueba (continuing the color theme), and their ultimate weapon, Iczer Sigma.
The best part about Fight! is that it plays as almost a "greatest hits" of the genre. The thoroughly confusing, yet almost nonexistent narrative (go figure) gives only the most skeletal structure to an anime that, honestly, is more about flashing lights and rainbow-colored gore than anything else. When you start to get a little bit of character development thrown into the mix, the movie decides that enough is enough and pulls Iczer into another parallel dimension or throws another giant mecha battle at you.
Not that it's completely brainless. Occasionally, Fight! flirted with some interesting ideas. Despite their rather grotesque possession of humanity, the Cthulhu are sometimes painted as a tragic race, forced to invade out of the necessity of finding a new homeworld. They aren't conquering pricks, they're just desperate to get off of their mushroom-shaped space station. Even more interesting, when Cobalt is killed in the first mecha battle, we're shown her lover Sepia in the process of mourning. To have someone so allegedly "villainous" shown in the all-too-human process of mourning the loss of a loved one throws a monkey wrench into the works of our Cthulhu hate machine. Can a race capable of such human emotions be all bad? It's an interesting idea that I wish more movies would explore.
Media Blasters presents Fight! Iczer-One in its original 1.33:1 television aspect ratio, with mixed results. The video quality was VHS-level, although colors were stable. Audio was available either in an atrocious English dub, or the original Japanese with horribly translated subtitles. When I say atrocious, I mean atrocious. It's one of the worst examples of direct translation I've encountered, especially during the closing credit J-pop tunes, where lines like "If I can make it through this alone night/I will get to sleep with you" flash across the screen making me choke on my apple juice. Extras are slim, and include a few trailers for other AnimeWorks releases, an image gallery, and a very peculiar featurette on the film hosted by a super-d Nagisa.
So slowly but surely, I'm beginning to creep my way into anime, drawn in by some amazing series like Go Nagai's Devil Lady or the thoroughly stunning Elfen Lied. However, there's a special place in my heart for goofy bits like Fight! Iczer-One, reminding me that maybe I don't have to try and become more serious as I get older. There's still plenty of room for my inner kid to stare wide-eyed at the screen at big booms and bright colors. Thank god!