Love Position: Halley Densetsu (Love Position: The Legend of Halley), directed by Shūji Iuchi. 93 minutes. December 16, 1985.
This OAV was not forgotten as much as suppressed. It has been removed from the Internet because of complaints of copyright infringement. But there has never been an American release to be infringed, so who …? Osamu Tezuka got a credit as Original Creator (it was based upon one of his manga), and it was produced by Tezuka Productions; their first OAV. The animation was produced by Sunshine Corporation (whoever they were), not Tezuka Productions, and the character design wasn’t by Tezuka at all. Six people were credited, notably including Toyoo Ashida — the characters in The Legend of Halley looked like Ashida’s art style in the Vifam anime TV series and those in the first Vampire Hunter D movie besides D himself (designed by Yoshitaka Amano). It was probably (certainly the only one I know of) the only Tezuka Productions product that did not look like an Osamu Tezuka creation. And the story – a thriller that looked at first like a combination of Apocalypse Now and The Terminator. But then it got weirder …
The beginning of The Legend of Halley is mostly a ripoff of The Terminator. An invulnerable Terminator clone comes out of the Nevada desert, killing a railroad construction crew and almost everyone in a diner. A background TV newscast warns the public to beware of Zamba, an escaped killer from the Nevada state prison; but this monster is clearly more than human.
Cut to a Tokyo disco where Subaru Marita and his girlfriend Yumi Torauma (Toraba in some translations) are dancing. There is a fight that Subaru wins, but everyone is arrested. Subaru’s father Robert Marita, a crippled university professor, bails him out. Subaru tells him that the Tsukuba Institute research group that he is with is about to leave for South Vietnam to investigate a meteorite from Halley’s Comet, then passing Earth (1985). Robert Marita reminisces about how he saw South Vietnam as a new lieutenant with the U.S. Army twenty years earlier. He was on a Ranger-type mission when his team was ambushed by the Viet Cong. The team was killed except for Robert. He crawled away to escape, and found the ruins of a temple inhabited by an unearthly young girl with green hair whom he named Lamina. Robert had become sick of the war and killing, and Lamina helped him to make the jungle grow again with a strange green powder. The Viet Cong found them, and Robert led them away from Lamina, getting severely wounded although he escaped. He was hospitalized, where he met Subaru’s mother, a Japanese nurse. They married even though Robert was permanently crippled, and returned to Japan where Subaru was born; but she died while Subaru was still a child. Robert became a wheelchair-bound university teacher, but he never forgot Lamina.
Yumi is shown to be defying her father, the powerful Director Torauma of Torauma Industries, who is financing the Tsukuba Institute’s research. He does not want her marrying the son of a crippled penniless university egghead and the student of a weird scientist. Instead he wants her to wed his picked heir, Goyō Yasui, his sinister henchman.
Dr. Tsukuba’s research team gathers at the Tokyo Airport to fly to Vietnam. Yumi comes to see Subaru off, but Yasui appears to drag her away. Subaru tries to fight, but Yasui easily beats him. The crotchety Dr, Tsukuba tells him that he should be concentrating on viruses, rickettsias, and bacteria, instead of girls.
In Vietnam, one of their trucks gets stuck on the poor jungle road. Subaru cuts through the jungle for help and finds the same abandoned temple that his father found twenty years earlier.
He takes refuge in it during a storm. When he plays his father’s harmonica, the vibrations bring Lamina out of stasis, still young (or ageless). She tries to tell Subaru her story telepathically, but all he gets is that Halley’s Comet brought all life to Earth billions of years ago with the green powder, and she is somehow connected to the Comet. Since Lamina is clearly not human, Subaru persuades her to return with him to the research group, who are so excited that they return to Japan immediately to study her and her green powder.
Yumi becomes jealous of all the attention that Lamina is getting, and angrily breaks off with Subaru despite his assurance that his only interest in Lamina is scientific. Yasui reports to her father, who is in America inspecting a Torauma subsidiary, that she appears about to do something stupid. Torauma flies back to Tokyo immediately. Zamba stows away on the plane and attacks in mid-flight over the Pacific, destroying it and killing everyone. The invulnerable Zamba continues swimming from mid-Pacific toward Japan.
Tsukuba’s research laboratory makes amazing discoveries about the green powder and about Lamina. They ultimately learn that Elorian, the creator of the universe who originally brought life to Earth, had become disgusted by the violent humans. He had ordered Halley’s Comet to send one of her handmaidens to Earth to destroy humanity. This occurred in 1910, the last time that Halley’s Comet passed Earth. But her handmaiden, Lamina, fell in love with everything about Earth, including the humans, and she disobeyed the order, hiding out in the Vietnamese jungle where Robert met her twenty years earlier. Now in 1985 Halley’s Comet is returning to Earth with a new agent of Elorian, from the planet Mars, the god of war this time, to kill Lamina for her betrayal and to carry out her mission to kill all humans.
Subaru takes Lamina and retreats to an isolated dam and power station on snowbound Mount Washidaka to await a final confrontation. Yumi attempts to follow them and challenge Lamina, but Yasui forestalls her, saying that he has taken over the Torauma industrial empire as Director Torauma’s heir, and that he’ll seal his acquisition by marrying Yumi. She flees into the snowy mountains. Yasui catches her just as Zamba shows up. Yumi continues fleeing while Zamba kills Yasui, and reaches Subaru and Lamina. The climactic battle at the isolated power station is taut and drawn-out. Zamba seems unstoppable, until Lamina drops her human guise and personally battles him as demigod to demigod, leaving Subaru and Yumi behind as mere humans.
The Legend of Halley may have been the first Japanese anime release that was explicitly non-Christian and current, more Shinto than anything else, as opposed to a historical samurai or ninja drama or a modern fantasy-comedy using “old-fashioned Japanese legends”, such as making several of Lum’s galactic pals in Urusei Yatsura Shinto goddess references. It certainly stood out as Different, although Tezuka had used the plot of Earth being ordered to be destroyed because humans were too violent in his earlier W3/The Amazing 3 TV series. I don’t know who Elorian is, but I understand that according to Shintoism, the supreme goddess is Amaterasu, the goddess of the Sun, or the living Sun; and that the heavenly objects are her subjects. Halley’s Comet is a demi-goddess servant of Venus, with her own hand-maidens. The concept of Halley’s Comet as both an astronomical object and a living demi-goddess with a hand-maiden, and of Mars as a planet and the god of war sending another demi-god servant to kill Halley’s Comet’s servant, made it too weird for most American anime fans.
The Legend of Halley was widely advertised as the first OAV from Tezuka Productions. It is arguably the only Tezuka Productions OAV, too, or at least the only feature length OAV. Tezuka Productions’ only other OAVs are a 13 half-hour episode production in 1993 of Ambassador Magma, a Tezuka manga produced as a live-action TV series in 1966-1967 (shown in America during the 1970s as The Space Giants), and the 18-minute Ravex in Tezuka World in 2009. (There was the experimental 25-minute The Green Cat, produced in October 1983, but nobody seems to know whether this was really released before 2003.) Tezuka Productions has made many anime theatrical features and TV series, but almost no OVAs – and nothing else that does not look like Tezuka’s art style.
Next week: “Forgotten” OAVs #9.