September 11, 2016 posted by

“Forgotten” Anime #34: “Roots Search”


Roots Search: Shokushin Buttai X (Roots Search: X, the Throbbing Thing), directed by Hisashi Sugai. 46 minutes. September 10, 1986.

Roots Search was one of the OAVs produced by Hiromasa Shibazaki’s Hiro Media Co., Ltd. It was a science-fiction/horror plot, with the emphasis on “horror”; both deliberately and accidently. It was a blatant rip-off of the movie Alien, with an Alien X killing the human crews of a spaceship and an orbiting space station. It was horribly produced, with horrible art design and a horrible story that makes no sense. Nobody (that I’ve found anyway) has a good thing to say about it.

moria-roots-searchThe OAV opens with a scientific monitor, an apparent unconscious woman, a spaceship receding through space, and a badly-drawn man fleeing along a corridor. The woman turns out to be Moira, the subject of a precognition experiment at the Tolmeckius ESP Research Center, a space station orbiting the planet Tolmeckius. (Any connection between this Tolmeckius and the kingdom of Tolmekia in the 1984 feature Nausicaä of the Valley of the Winds is probably deliberate.) With her are three men: Doctor Marcus, Scott, and Norman. (Only four on a huge, empty orbiting research center?) Conversation establishes that Moira’s precognitive powers have increased greatly since coming to the ESP Research Center, probably due to X-Rays from Tolmeckius; and that Scott considers himself Moira’s lover, which Moira does not seem to reciprocate. Moira suddenly has a horrible vision that she can’t describe, but the viewer will recognize it as of all three men being killed horribly.

The ESP Research Center is rocked by a spaceship warping into its range, which is not supposed to happen. Dr. Marcus tells Scott to take the probe ship and investigate the strange warpship; for no reason Moira goes along. They find everyone dead except for one man, whom they bring back to the Research Center. The man is Buzz (no doubt named after Buzz Aldrin), the second officer of the Green Planet; supposedly “horribly wounded” although no wounds are seen. He says that his nine shipmates were all killed by a monster.

vagmouthNorman calls them from another room. He has found another creature that looks like the Abominable Snowman with a vagina mouth. It must be an alien, they all agree. (Duh! Nobody seems to wonder how it got aboard the Center without being noticed.) Buzz identifies it as the monster that killed everyone else on the Green Planet. Dr. Marcus orders it ejected from the Research Center. But as soon as it is, and Marcus goes off alone, he has a vision of a former superior whom he betrayed, Director Raymond. Marcus is killed by large shards of metal (if Alien X has telekinetic powers, why does it bother taunting its victims with visions of their past victims? Maybe it’s just sadistic. Also, where did it get the big shards of metal?)

Moira asks Scott what humanity’s purpose is? Why did God create us? (Why the philosophical questions?) Buzz confronts them with a gun and challenges them to prove they’re true humans. “Give me your names or I’ll consider you aliens and kill you.” (Aliens disguised as humans couldn’t give false names?)

The scene cuts to Norman’s downfall. He was on a planet with his friend Sander when he left Sander to be killed by a Mordi. Norman’s cries bring the other three, who find Alien X who promises to kill them all within two hours. Scott asks Buzz why it is that he alone survived; an excellent question that is never answered.

macross2012roots-search-ld-640x4801f9fcc2e-mkv_snapshot_35-20_2016-02-26_21-18-22Buzz walks out alone, but it’s Scott who is shown patrolling the corridors alone. He is the next to have visions of a past lover, Katharine, whom he betrayed.

Norman is beguiled by a vision of Sander into entering an airlock and opening it without putting on a spacesuit, dying from decompression. At the last moment the vision reveals that it is really a messenger from/of God. Moira overhears it, but senses its real thoughts are of hatred and bloodlust.

The alien is revealed as an amorphous red thing with lots of tentacles, leaving the viewer confused as to what the real form of Alien X is. The monster in its red form engulfs Moira and Buzz – and Moira finds herself in a snowy landscape asking the monster in its Abominable Snowman form why it is killing them? The monster says that God created humanity, but became disgusted that humans are motivated only by malice, greed, and bloodlust; so God told Alien X to kill all humans. Moira doesn’t believe it. Alien X laughs.

Moira regains consciousness on the research space station. Scott is being consumed by the red monster. Buzz says that they will set the station’s reactor to blow up, destroying the station and everything on it while he and Moira escape in the Green Planet. Moira and Buzz kiss, and she has a vision of the two of them nude, with their baby, gamboling against an ethereal pink background. Buzz sets the reactor to explode in 20 minutes, but the red monster blinds him. Moira tries to lead him to safety, but they are still running through the corridors when the reactor blows up, the space station is destroyed, and EVERYBODY LIVES HAPPILY EVER AFTER! or something – the ending is vaguely mystical, with them in Hell walking toward a great big beautiful tomorrow – or something. You explain it to me.

Roots Search was actually picked up for a laser disc by Image Entertainment, released October 20, 1993. I have no idea why.

Next week: “Forgotten” OAVs #35


  • Roots Search was actually picked up for a laser disc by Image Entertainment, released October 20, 1993. I have no idea why.

    It was also released on VHS by Central Park Media (under the “US Manga Corps” label), for reasons I’m sure they have no clue whatsoever!

  • I guess this makes some video games that borrowed heavily on “Alien” (much to many players’ disappointment) look much better in comparison.

    • At least those have a suitable ending!

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