February 23, 2010


Protectors of Universe is an incredibly bizarre DVD I picked up a few months ago at a used bookstore. It definitely falls into the "so bad it's good" category, or more accurately "so bad it's the most entertaining anime I've ever seen."

It seems to be a relic from the early 80's, but as far as I can tell it was never released until 2005. There's very little concrete information about it on the internet, other than that it's very, very bad, and that the producer, Joseph Lai, was also responsible for a series of sub-par kung fu movies in the 70's, before trying his hand at a few anime titles.

The visuals are fairly typical of a 1970's anime production, but filled with hilarious animation mistakes. The story is also pretty standard anime-- a group of teenagers pilot giant robots through space. But everything in this film is so inept that it really becomes a work of art. In every conceivable way it could fail, it does.

The dubbing probably stands out as the worst aspect, or at least, the most obvious. The English script is clearly written by someone who doesn't speak English very well. It's full of lines like "A victory is the best present for you" and "you are just like a coward."

The villain's name is Alfred -- yes, just Alfred. Other characters' names include Assistant Helen, Dr. Howard and General Larry.

Although it's got a cast of thousands, there seem to only be three to five voice actors, and I use the term 'actor' extremely loosely. There are either one or two guys with high-pitched voices and bizarre accents, who voice almost all the male characters. They tend to sounds like they were too close to the microphone when recording. There's also a woman with a British accent who plays all the female characters. And lastly there's a guy with a slightly deeper voice, and an American accent, who only gets minor characters. This dub is clearly aimed at a North American audience, so you have to wonder why they chose to have the guy with the most appropriate voice only play the incidental characters.

The original language version probably wasn't much better though. Even with great dialogue, this story would be full of demented plot points like the main robot jamming a space train into its rear in order to pull it to another planet:

Along with character designs and plot elements, the music is completely stolen from other anime productions-- I recognized the main theme from Crusher Joe, and most of the other music is apparently from a super sentai series called Changeman.

Some of the animation mistakes are pretty unbelievable:

That's right, a kid is looking out the window, and a different kid is looking back. For no reason. This is not explained or acknowledged. I can't imagine how this could possibly have happened. Was each version of the character drawn by a different person, with no communication, or was it just a single guy, deliberately trying to screw up the production?

There's also this classic shot, which tends to pop up several times during the various battles:

The blue guys are the villains, and their scenes are some of the best. Here's another classic:

In this one, the guy is knocked up into the top left corner of the screen, but he comes down on the right. These animators really didn't care about their work.

These scenes are also pretty funny:

I love how it shows the girl when he says "My name is Cyprian," and then pans over to him when he says "and this is my sister." This scene also makes you wonder how many people there are named General Larry?

This clip (above) demonstrates the "be as loud and close to the mic as you can get" acting technique. I also think it's hilarious when the cheesy rock music starts playing to signal the arrival of the Native American-themed robot.

It's a little-known fact that adding layers upon layers of echo can improve a fight scene exponentially.

The movie is also notable for having the worst "Red Hot Riding Hood" ripoff sequence ever:

Repeated footage of the same girl dancing past-- A line of girls lifting their legs up at a 90 degree angle without moving the rest of their bodies at all-- no wonder the guys go into stilted imitations-of-imitations of Tex Avery's wolf.

In short, if you haven't seen this movie yet, it is imperative that you do so immmediately. Otherwise you are just like a coward.