[Kenritsu] Chikyū Bōei Gun ([Prefectural] Earth Defense Force), directed by Keiji Hayakawa. 50 minutes. March 21, 1986.
The opening title proclaims EARTH DEFENSE FORCE in big letters, and then PREFECTURAL in little letters sneaks onto the beginning of the title. In this case “prefectural” means “county”. It’s a parody of the manga and TV series, reportedly of Ultra Seven in particular (live-action, 49 episodes from October 1967 to September 1968; extremely popular and in constant reruns), about an organization of heroes defending Earth from being taken over by an evil group or evil space aliens. In this case the evil group decides to start small with the local prefecture, whose mayor appoints the prefectural high school to defend it. It turns out that the would-be world conquerors, the Telephone Pole Group, are also a high school clique – or almost indistinguishable from one.
[Kenritsu] Chikyū Bōei Gun began as a four-volume manga series by Kōichirō Yasunaga written/drawn between 1983 and 1985. I saw the OAV, produced/animated by Studio Gallop, as an umpty-generation copy of the Japanese original, which was the only way to see it at the time. It was very funny, if you were a Japanese manga & anime fan. I always thought that it had become a forgotten OVA in America by the 1990s. It wasn’t until after Streamline Pictures closed in 2002 and I had my stroke and was permanently hospitalized in 2005 that it was released in America, by A.D. Vision in 2006.
The OAV opens with a song, “S.F.”, that I felt was obviously inspired by “Science Fiction Double Feature”, the theme song of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It describes raucously how the heroes’ team (all three of them) will save the world in the best tradition of cheesy low-budget science fiction movies. But it is all Morita’s weird dream.
The 50-minute OVA is in the format of a TV series of three 15-minute episodes and a preview of a nonexistent Episode 4. Episode 1, “Prefecture Mission 1”, opens at the Hazama Medical University Hospital at night. A Mysterious Figure is seen prowling the halls. When he is caught, he fires missiles from within his body that set the hospital on fire, punches a hole in the wall, and escapes. It turns out that an exchange student from India was in a traffic accident, and that the hand of Dr. Inoue, the hospital’s operating surgeon, “accidentally slipped” and turned him into an 8,000-horsepower cyborg with built-in weapons. (Dr. Inoue is obsessed with creating a cyborg more powerful than Steve Austin in The Six Million Dollar Man.) Dr. Inoue argues back that his assistant, Dr. Mafune, was just as eager to turn someone into a cyborg.
At the Prefectural Governor’s (County Mayor’s) office, the Mayor and his secretary, Miyuki Ôyama, are working late into the night compiling a list of lewd comic fanzines. (A review said that in the manga, the Mayor is trying to make all manga fanzines illegal. I’ve seen some really obscene ones, including a sadistic Pikachu putting the other Pokémon into bondage situations.) A phone call from “the evil secret society, the Telephone Pole Group”, tells the Mayor that they are taking over the world; but they have learned from the mistakes of earlier evil secret societies. Instead of fighting with all Japan or just Tokyo, they will start with a dinky little countryside prefecture. The Mayor calls the County Council into an emergency session.
Mr. Toshiyuki Roberi, a high school math teacher, is walking home in the night when he sees fire engines racing to the hospital, and he finds the collapsed cyborg in the street. He takes him home to his small second-floor apartment.
At Imazuru Prefectural High School, the baseball club is practicing – all three of them: players Hiroaki Morita & Takei Sukekubo, and coach Akiko Ifukube. (Dramatic pseudo-Ennio Morricone music.) Akiko feels they need more players on their team. Mr. Roberi calls them to the Principal’s office. He has been asked by the County Council to create a prefectural Earth Defense Force to combat the Telephone Pole Group, and he is dumping everything on the sports jocks of the school’s baseball team. They aren’t interested, until the Principal tells them that they will get a special security budget – money! They buy themselves track-suit “uniforms”.
I love the brief “time passes” sequence.
The Indian exchange student/cyborg, Karmi Santin, has healed at Roberi’s apartment. Morita, Sukekubo, & Akiko come to meet the “good-looking guy”. While they are there, a Telephone Pole Group squad consisting of pink-haired sexy leader Bara (“Lady Baradagi”), hulking henchman Scope Tsurusaki (“the Phantom of the Telephone Group”), and an army of Faceless Minions (the masks over their faces say “Minion”), under orders from their shogun, “Lord Chilthonian” (presumably all TPG titles are self-assumed), comes to recruit Santin into their group. Morita, Sukekubo, & Akiko whip off their street clothes to become the EDF. Before they can engage the TPG, Santin who thinks that it’s the Telephone Pole Group who turned him into a cyborg, blows everything up (demolishing the entire building), and chases the TPG all off. The three EDFers feel that Santin has already joined their team.
In Episode 2, “Fly to the Shop of Evil!”, the apartment house has been rebuilt and Mr. Roberi’s apartment has become the EDF’s headquarters. Mr. Roberi has gotten photoslides showing that the TPG’s secret headquarters is disguised as the Kisoya Lumber Yard. The TPG has kidnapped Ms. Ôyama, the Mayor’s secretary, and is holding her there. Roberi wants Morita and Sukekubo to rescue her, disguised as ramen deliveryboys. They refuse.
There are references throughout this “episode” to everyone being connoisseurs of cheap kinds of tea and milk. I don’t really understand.
Meanwhile, Lord Chilthonian assigns Bara (really student Ryūko Harataki) to seduce Mr. Roberi and ruin his reputation as a teacher. (There is an allusion to Chilthonian previously assigning the giant Tsurusaki and Shokutsu, a hugely fat TPGer, to do this – Bara imagines them disguised as schoolgirls – that I assume was an incident in the manga that was left out of the anime.) Bara, as a high school student, asks Roberi to correct her math, and strips down to her underwear to seduce him. He assumes that she is a starving teen desperate for a good grade and invites her out to lunch.
Morita & Sukekubo go to the Lumber Yard disguised as customers in business suits. Scope Tsurusaki, doubling as the Lumber Yard’s bookkeeper, recognizes them instantly (high schoolers posing as businessmen?) and calls the Minions to imprison them. “Lord Chilthonian” comes out (he is being interviewed by Ms. Ôyama, who is not a prisoner) to gloat over them, but they are too busy arguing over whose stupid idea the businessman disguise was to pay attention to him. He orders the Minions to wrap them in straw bundles and throw them into the canal behind the Lumber Yard, and returns to the interview with Ms. Ôyama.
Morita & Sukekubo free themselves from the canal. Morita decides that they will sneak into the TPG headquarters in their EDF uniforms. They are instantly caught and boiled in a huge pot for dinner. Lord Chilthonian orders that they be used for soup stock and thrown back in the canal.
Roberi takes Bara to the Gotcha! coffee & tea restaurant (sign in English) and tells her to order whatever she wants since she’s a growing girl. She orders a huge meal. When he asks about her parents, she claims to be an orphan since they “ate a flare” (a jet fighter is shown firing a missile at Godzilla) and died.
Morita & Sukekubo try again to sneak into the TPG headquarters. This time Chilthonian orders them encased in a concrete milk box before being thrown into the canal.
Roberi & Bara are walking home from the restaurant when they encounter Morita & Sukekubo climbing out of the canal. Morita is indignant about Roberi fraternizing with the enemy; then Santin comes upon them all, assumes the EDF and the TPG are in cahoots, and chases them through the city firing missiles at them. Ms. Ôyama returns to the Mayor’s office with the TPG’s plans for world domination, and the Mayor writes the EDF off as a failure.
In “Episode 3: Cyborg Boogie”, Lord Chilthonian has decided the Telephone Pole Group’s problem is that it doesn’t have its own cyborg like Santin; so he has ordered Dr. Inoue’s daughter Yuko kidnapped and forced him to turn her into a cyborg like Santin. (I thought at first that Yuko was Akiko, but they have different colored hair.) Yuko is furious that she has been ruined for marriage, and instead of becoming a TPG slave she attacks them with her shoulder missiles. The TPG tries to control her by having kidnapped Dr. Inoue and threatening to give him electric shocks if she won’t obey their orders.
Yuko goes to the high school dressed as a schoolgirl, but she is so heavy as a cyborg that she smashes deep footprints into the floor. She immediately attacks Santin with her shoulder missiles. He refuses to fight a girl, but Morita & Sukekubo have installed a radio control in him and fire his missiles against his will. He finally loses his temper and fights back against Yuko.
At the end of the day they are both exhausted. The Telephone Pole Group returns with Dr. Inoue as their hostage and orders Yuko to continue fighting, but the electro-shock switch sticks and “Dr. Inoue” is revealed as a dummy. The real Dr. Inoue is so obsessed with turning people into cyborgs that he voluntarily joined the TPG and transformed her. She blows the TPG and her father away.
Yuko wails that she can never be a real human anymore. Santin says he understands her feelings, and the two cyborgs fall in love. Yuko would still rather be a normal human. Dr. Inoue’s assistant, Dr. Mafune, says that he can turn them both back in his home laboratory. All the EDF goes there (including Akiko, who is definitely not Yuko), plus Dr. Inoue.
The transformation takes ten days. It’s successful, but Dr. Mafune couldn’t resist doing his own experimenting on them and reversed their sexes. The infuriated male Yuko and female Santin chase the doctors around the lab, while Morita, Sukekubo, & Akiko leave in disgust.
A few nights later, Morita and Bara run into each other. Both are off duty now, so they agree to go out on a date together. Over the closing credits they are seen falling in love, and encountering Yuko and Santin who are now comfortable in their new genders.
There is a brief post-credits preview for the nonexistent “Episode 4: The Revenge of the Dinner-Eating Woman!!” Bara can really run up her date’s restaurant bill!
Next week: “Forgotten” OAVs #8.