FUNNY ANIMALS AND MORE
February 7, 2016 posted by

“Forgotten” OVAs #5: “The Supergal”

The Supergal, directed by Motosuke Takahashi. 48 minutes. May 21, 1986.

maris-vhs-coverThis was an anime adaptation of a very early standalone s-f comedy manga by Rumiko Takahashi, issued in her “Rumic World” series of standalone titles. The title was written in Japanese with “The” in katakana and the kanji characters for “Super” and “Girl”, with the English phonetically in katakana alongside it. The licensed American video was originally released by Central Park Media’s U.S. Manga Corp. under its Japanese title, but this was quickly changed to Maris the Chojo to avoid any possible copyright conflict with DC Comics and Warner Bros. Nobody seems to know whether CPM actually received a legal complaint or was just playing safe. “Chojo is a made–up combination of “cho”, extraordinary or super, and “shojo”, girl; not a genuine Japanese word..

The 48-minute OVA, produced by Studio Pierrot, was amusing but felt tremendously padded, as though Takahashi’s 24-page manga had only about half that much’s worth of story. The plot was seriously flawed in being a mashup of an s-f drama, a comedy about a clumsy comic-book superhero(ine), and a parody of women’s wrestling. It was mostly funny for its in-group jokes such as the alien nine-tailed fox/image-shifter being named Murphy; both a reference to Japan’s mythical nine-tailed kitsune who could shape-shift and, with an Irish name, to Ireland’s similar little tricky leprechauns. Maris, who is always obsessed with money, wears a hair-clip shaped like a ¥-sign. The funniest sequence was in the end credits following “The End”, which are intermixed with phony “outtakes” of supposed bloopers during the filming: the title falling over, both Maris and the masked Koganemaru slipping and falling down when they leap down, and so on. “Blooper reels” from live-action movie and TV productions had become common during the 1980s, but this was the first time that anyone had deliberately created fake outtakes in animation. The practice quickly became widespread.

The background is revealed in bits and pieces throughout the story. Maris is a young woman from the ex-planet Thanatos (a reference to the god or demon of death in Greek mythology; there have been many comic-book supervillains named Thanatos), now a member of the Intergalactic Space Patrol’s Special Police with her partner Murphy, an alien nine-tailed humanoid fox. Thanatos self-destructed when Maris was a little girl; all Thanatosians evacuated successfully, but they have spread throughout the galaxy as refugees. Thanatosians are six times stronger than other humans, which has led to many Thanatosian young women becoming women wrestlers. Maris used to be one, and still wears the costume of one (little more than a bikini), but this is apparently because she is too poor to buy new clothes. (It is revealed later that the Special Police are too underfunded to have uniforms.) Thanatosians have to wear power-suppressor harnesses to control their strength and avoid breaking everything. This does not help Maris much because (a) she is extra-clumsy and breaks things even with her harness on, and (b) she forgets to wear her harness half the time, to Murphy’s exasperation. He is also exasperated at her attitude of openly serving in the Intergalactic Special Police only until one of her get-rich-quick dreams comes true.

MarisTheChojo-600

The opening sequence shows Maris and Murphy pursuing a gang of space criminals. The gang is armed, but Maris takes off her harness and defeats them all using her martial arts. Afterwards, back in their Police spaceship, Maris is gloating about the bounty they’ll get, until Murphy points out that she’s forgotten to put her harness back on again. She lurches about demolishing their spaceship, except for the large video screen that shows their commander’s giant head saying that, as usual, the cost of a new Patrol ship will be taken out of their pay. Maris screams (throughout the video), “I HATE BEING POOR!”

maris1Maris and Murphy are so poor that on the resort planet Oeso, they have to get a second job during their vacation as tour guides – Maris forces an alien designed as an insulting stereotype of a bucktoothed Japanese tourist to hire them. The pointless beach scene, with a Jaws reference, is padded with reused footage from Studio Pierrot’s two Takahashi TV series, Urusei Yatsura and Ranma ½. Later, while taking a shower in their rundown, cockroach-filled rooming house, a videophone call reveal why Maris is so poor. Not only does she keep having to pay for the damage she causes, her deadbeat parents keep calling to sponge off her for money to pay for the damage they cause. Her father keeps buying the cheapest harnesses that break or fall off. Also, Maris complains that her father is an alcoholic and her mother an airheaded shopaholic.

Maris’ & Murphy’s next Special Police assignment sounds like her golden opportunity: to rescue Koganemaru Matsushida, the kidnapped handsome, extremely rich son of a billionaire. Maris daydreams that he will be so grateful for being rescued that he will fall in love with her and marry her. She won’t be poor any more! Murphy doesn’t think so.

supergal-2On the planet Morai, two kidnappers are awaiting the Special Police; a masked leader, and another Thanatosian bikini-clad wrestler. Their shoddy, prefabricated headquarters is falling apart. Like Maris, the Thanatosian is tired of being poor and has kidnapped the rich Koganemaru for his ransom. When she calls the S.P. spaceship to make her demands, She and Maris are horrified to recognize each other. She is Zombie Sue, Maris’ main rival when they were both women wrestlers. They hate each other so much that the ransom negotiations quickly turn into a spaceship battle. The S.P. spaceship breaks down under the strain (the S.P. keeps getting Maris and Murphy increasingly cheaper ships), and it crashes on a nearby desert planet.

After a really overlong slog through the desert (more padding), Maris & Murphy come to a wild west-style town. Maris sees a poster for wrestling and briefly plans to make enough money by wrestling to solve their problems, but the poster turns out to be very dated and the wresting ring is a deserted wreck. However, they are rescued by the Special Police commander, who takes them back to their headquarters world.

There the Special Police is seen to be really threadbare, and the commander to be really tiny – he only looks huge on the viewscreen. He says that the S.P. will provide Maris and Murphy with one more spaceship, but that this is their final chance.

maris-cdThe two fly to the kidnappers’ base on Moroi. Murphy is suspicious that it seems too easy, but Maris is busy dreaming of a rescued Koganemaru marrying her and burying her in money. Murphy is right; Sue disables their ship and captures them. The masked leader threatens to kill Koganemaru if they resist.

The masked leader defers to Sue, who plans to both humiliate and kill Maris. Sue puts a restraint on Maris’ harness that prevents her from removing it, then takes off her own. She wants a final wrestling match, with her having her natural strength and Maris not. As Maris becomes increasingly pulverized (more padding), and the wrestling ring crumbles under their thrashings, Murphy knocks the control to Maris’ restraints from Sue’s hand and frantically follows it as it is about to fall into Moroi’s depths. He finally gets it after transforming into octopi, then chameleons. Maris’ restraints pop off, and she wins easily.

As Maris can hardly believe she’s won, the masked leader says, “Oh, well,’ and removes his mask. He’s Koganemaru. His original kidnapping was genuine, but he quickly liked the excitement of turning evil and joining Sue. He congratulates Maris on her victory, giving her a momentary thrill that she’s succeeded, but reveals that he has fallen in love with Sue and will marry her. The OVA ends with Maris having a tantrum and demolishing her & Murphy’s spaceship while screaming, “I HATE BEING POOR!!”

The Supergal was one of the Rumic World series of OAVs of early Takahashi standalone manga, along with Fire Tripper, Laughing Target, and Mermaid Forest. There was also a 1980s OAV of Takahashi’s One-Pound Gospel, but it wasn’t part of the Rumic World series, probably because it was an adaptation of a minor Takahashi manga short series, not a single story. All are pretty well forgotten today.

Unfortunately, the only video copy that either Jerry or I could find on the Internet isn’t subtitled or dubbed; only in Japanese. I hope that you will be able to follow it with the help of this summary.

6 Comments

  • The hair clip on Maris’s hair is the “¥” which is the monetary symbol for the Japanese Yen (Or as I like to use it “¥en.

  • It just so happens that a Fanmade dub of Maris exists. However, don’t expect the dub to be any good when compared to Streamline, Viz Media, or ADV/Section 23. As for the OVA itself, it had potential to be funny, but Maris’ super strength peters out and the ending was predictable.

  • Rumiko Takahashi’s original manga story was published in english (under the title “The Super Gal”!) in the first issue of Animerica magazine, in the early-1990s.

    I still have the CPM Laserdisc of Maris the Chojo, with subtitles. It’s a fun watch, once in a great while. The end titles really are (by far) the best part of it, though..!

  • Maris was released in a vhs English dub sometime in the 90s. (I loved Murphy’s Irish accent) No doubt you picked up the Superman reference. (superstrong people from a now destroyed planet) I thought it was quite amusing in some places. I especially loved the ‘bloopers’ at the end.

  • Fred,will you be looking at the 1989 ova Riding Bean? It featured character design by Kenchi Sonoda (Bubblegum Crisis,Gunsmith Cats). It also featured the debut of Sonoda’s markswoman Rally Vincent,who would look slightly different when she reappeared in Gunsmith Cats. Please review Riding Bean.

    • Okay, although I am planning on presenting the later three-OAV “Gunsmith Cats” first. To me, it’s more interesting to see the more polished presentation of Sonoda’s work first, and then what it grew out of.

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