This November The Land of Obscusion will be celebrating a neat idea called "Mecha Month". Gerald Rathkolb, of Anime World Order fame, debuted Mecha Month last November, and the idea of it is for mech fans who have a model kit they haven't made yet to finally get off of their butts... And sit right back down and build that kit! I myself have stopped buying and building model kits, though I do understand the fun of it, but I still felt like celebrating alongside those fans. Therefore, every post this month will be mech-related, and what better way to start it than to finally watch & review something I kept putting off ever since the start of this blog!
The OVA boom of that debuted in the early-80s reached it's end roughly in the mid-90s, with fewer and fewer OVAs being made afterwards. With the idea of late-night anime becoming more popular & lucrative, the short OVA seemed antiquated, but the format still worked in some cases, like maybe if an idea couldn't get a shot at a TV airing or even a personal project. I'm sure Chou Kidou Densetsu/Super Mobile Legend Dinagiga is a case of that, because I can't honestly believe that this short production was originally created the way it ended up.
Hikari Touno has only been with the local robot training facility for three days and already she's caused more accidental destruction around the facility than thought possible. At the same time, though, she looks to have great potential, and her dense positive energy makes it hard for any of her classmates to really hate her, including her roommate Nana Izumizaki. But after a new student from Amsterdam named Marie Vlaanderen comes to the facility a mysterious robot, many times larger than anything the students pilot, attacks the facility. If there's any chance at survival it's in Hikari's potential ability to pilot the secret giant robot Dinagiga, which accidentally caused the destruction of Hokkaido a few years back.
There's no way to talk around this, so let's get straight to the point: Dinagiga feels like an aborted TV series production. It's only two episodes long, yet the amount of story told in them feels like it should have been about four or five, and it all simply feels like the beginning to a larger story. From what I could tell, Dinagiga is the creation of a man called Takeshi Doi, with this being his sole anime involvement, and this is likely his own personal story that he wants told; hell, Doi's Twitter handle is @Dinagiga! It really seems like Dinagiga was going to be planned as a TV series originally, but either Doi couldn't get a sponsor to get it onto a late-night slot or maybe the sponsors jumped ship, so a TV airing couldn't happen. If that's the case then I'm guessing that Doi then decided to simply use the budget that he & Studio Deen already had for the production, which was for two episodes, and simply toss in as much of what was planned out into these two episodes. It's not that the story feels confusing or anything like that, because it isn't; rather, it simply moves at a much-too-fast pace, which results in lack in detail and some scenes not having the impact that they obviously would have had if there was more time to develop the characters & story.
Also, Dinagiga really gives off an Evangelion vibe. Granted, it's not outright ripping Eva entirely, but there are some bits that are very similar: The destruction of Hokkaido sounds like the destruction of Tokyo from the backstory of Eva, the idea that these kids are being used for a greater power that they don't understand at first sounds just like NERV's usage of Eva's leads, and Marie looks like the result of Misato & Rei performing the fusion dance from DBZ. Still, Hikari's general attitude is enjoyable and innocent enough, though it might be a little annoying at times, & I like the idea of the kids being a part of a school, which reminds me more of Gunbuster's humble beginnings. Had this idea been fleshed out into more episodes, or even simply continued beyond two episodes, I'm sure that I would have enjoyed this even more. As it is, though, this OVA really just feels like it's rushing through story and simply comes off as someone just wanting his story made available to the public.
Production-wise, there are a few notable names here. It was directed by Naoyuki Yoshinaga, who also directed Maison Ikkoku & Patlabor TV, and the title itself doesn't look like it cheapened out on anything; there are a couple of shots which feature two girls who complain about discrimination since only the main characters are given special training, and they are only worth bringing up because they are drawn worse than anyone else, yet the animation for them are some of the smoothest & most fluid in the OVA. The mech designs were done by Kenji Teraoka, of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Gundam 00, & Code Geass fame, and the robots are some of the finer points in this title, with simple-but-effective designs that are surprisingly memorable. Overall, the staff behind this title, as well as the cast, aren't really a problem here. Probably the best part of this entire OVA is the opening theme, "Yotei Chouwa no Mainichi" by Yume Suzuki, which is an addictive pop tune that really makes you wish it was related to a better title. The ending theme, "Himawari Hatake" by Mayuko Omimura (the voice of Hikari), is nothing special.
Super Mobile Legend Dinagiga deserves some credit for being ambitious, but at only two episodes there simply isn't enough time for that ambition to really be told well. Takeshi Doi's idea has merit behind it, even if it does reek of Eva at times, but this OVA really just feels like a TV series that wasn't to be, yet still got made in some form. It's not a bad title by any means, but at the same time it really isn't worth checking out unless you're simply curious about it, like I was. Enjoy the opening theme, but that's it. Admittedly, this isn't the best way to start off Mecha Month for the blog, but this is only the beginning...