Hagane no Oni: Daimajū Gekitō (Demon of Steel: Battle of the Great Demon Beasts), directed by Toshihiro Hirano. 56 minutes. December 10, 1987.
Was the OAV Demon of Steel, produced by AIC and released by Tokuma Japan Communications, ever released in the U.S. or the U.K.? I never heard about it in the 1980s or 1990s, and I can’t find any reference to it today. An Italian and a Spanish release, yes, as Steel Devil in Italian and as Devil Robot: Horror de Otra Dimensión in Spanish. Despite what the Anime News Network says – “Objectionable content: Significant” – I find it more boring than anything else.
I didn’t pay any attention to the film at the time. Somebody in L.A. got the Japanese OAV, or a video copy of it, but it wasn’t translated and it didn’t look particularly original. Now that it’s on YouTube and subtitled, I can see that I didn’t miss anything.
In 1999, a team of international scientists at the Sansara Research Center on Kushini Island discovered a “Quark of Malhuder” that was used to develop a Malhuder Particle Laser, a powerful laser weapon fired from an orbiting satellite. But firing the laser resulted in the appearance of an unknown physical mass, which sinks into the sea. Two researchers, Takuya Goroza and Haruka Alford, dive in a submersible to investigate it. The submersible is struck by a dangerous vibration, and Takuya radios that they are giving up and surfacing. Galun Hayetz, in the command ship above, orders them to get a sample first despite the anger. “If you resurface, we will open fire,” Takuya and Haruka get the sample, but Takuys does not forgive Galun’s ruthlessness.
Three years pass. Takuya has left the Sansara Research Center for a university position, when he gets a mysterious letter from Haruka begging him to return. “You’re the only one that can save me. Come back, I beg of you. I don’t understand what is happening to me. Kill me.” Takuya returns, to be greeted by his former girlfriend, Lyse Molun, who is now in uniform. The Research Center has been taken over by the military and is now classified Top Secret. Worse, his old enemy Galun is now in charge. Galun arrogantly says that Takuya is no longer welcome, but as a former employee, he will be given a temporary pass good long enough to see Haruka.
Haruka is delighted to see Takuya again but denies having written to him. He invites Takuya to dinner with him and his girl friend, Rui, before Takuya leaves. After he leaves, Lyse says that Haruka has been acting strangely, going through a frightening personality swing.
The magnetic field is caused by a monster 20 meters tall that destroys a radar station and two fighter aircraft. At the dinner, Rui has also noticed Haruka’s frightening personality change.
Takuya sees the Army investigating the destroyed aircraft. The unknown magnetic field reminds him of the unknown sample that he and Haruka brought back three years earlier. He learns that it is what Haruka is still working on, and he is the only one with access to it.
Takuya gets Rui to help him get into the Research Center’s Top Secret files to learn what Haruka has been working on. They learn that his initial theory was that the 1999 laser test enabled something from another dimension to come through into ours.
It is obvious to the viewer that Haruka has been taken over by whatever came through. After Takuya leaves, the evil Haruka confronts Rui.
The Army, investigating the destruction of the radar station and the two planes, takes over the Research Center. A soldier finds Haruka taking control of the Center’s particle accelerator and is killed by him. Takuya looks for Haruka and is confronted by Galun, who boasts that he and Haruka have been trying to obtain energy from the other dimension. He says they have found it a worthy experiment, while Takuya warns it is too dangerous.
Lyse is assigned to help the Army find who killed the soldier. Takuya, about to leave, receives a gasped phone message from Haruka asking him to kill him. Takuya returns to the Center and finds Haruka standing over Rui’s body. Haruka reveals that he has spent the last three years investigating the quark of Malhuder. He opened the other dimension just as Takuya arrived, enabling a spirit of destruction to enter our world. Lyse and the soldiers arrive just as Haruka allows the spirit of destruction to take him over completely. Takuya and Lyse try to escape while the soldiers are killed by Haruka/the spirit of destruction, but it destroys the whole Research Institute and Lyse is killed. Takuya goes to get the first dimensional creature, while Galun, on a navy ship offshore, orders that the satellite laser be fired again against the Haruka monster, who he finally realizes has used the Center for his own purposes. This gives Haruka the power to destroy all the ships. Then Takuya in the other monster arrives.
The climax is a long battle of destruction between two gigantic beings who could be demonic monsters or giant demon-masked robots, depending on your script. The OAV ends with Takuya’s body. Unconscious, or dead? Different reviewers have assumed either, indicating that the producers deliberately left it open to the viewers’ interpretations.
Maybe the “Objectionable content: Significant” was that apparently everybody dies by the end (depending upon how the viewer interprets Takuya’s immobile body).
Next week: “Forgotten” OAVs #29.