The Super Dimension Century Orguss (Strangers In A Strange Land)

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Even The Promotional Artwork Shows The Effort That Went Into This Series

One of the older Real Robot series I’ve just recently started watching (as a result of Super Robot Wars Z I might add), The Super Dimension Century Orguss is certainly one of the more unique entries in the Super Dimensional series that spanned the 80’s and included such famous entries as the Super Dimensional Fortress Macross.  In fact so unusual is it that the very first scene you even see in the show is of our manly hot shot pilot main character in Kei Katsuragi making out with his lovely woman.  In a way that also sets the tone of thing to come as this series is pretty much full of manly men and attractive ladies, but that’s obviously not all.  Let’s get down to business shall we.

The Story:

The crux of Orguss is that the what you see isn’t always what you get and then some.  At first the show looks like it’s going to be another standard real robot mecha series where the two major superpowers are facing off for control of a space elevator in the year 2062.  Kind of like how Gundam 00 starts, except like with that series you know something big is going to happen to throw that concept for a loop. 

Enter the Time-Space Oscillation bomb which Kei is tasked with guarding while engineers work in setting it off in order to prevent the enemy faction from gaining control of the elevator and thus dominance over the Earth by destroying it instead.  Only they don’t quite get it set up in time before the opposing super power attacks, leaving Kei to take action and try to work it himself Except it works….a little too well and the result is Kei waking up in a strange and mostly barren land where he’s picked up by gypsy traders known as the Emaan, which consists mostly of women.

On their ship the Glomaar Kei finally learns what is going on.  After he set off the T/S Oscillation Bomb, time and space got screwed up resulting in the destruction of all dimensions parrelel to our own and forcing their remains to collide with ours, thus creating a mish mash of all possible universes.  In this new Earth there are territories that consistently fade in and out of existence and sub-dimensional barries that prevent one from escaping from certain areas or travelling over great distances without trouble.  In this world their are now 3 super powers instead of two.  One is of course the Emaan who are technologically advanced but mostly peaceful and help Kei rebuild his Bronco II fighter into the transformable mecha known as Orguss which makes use of both Emaan and Human technology and is named after Jaby’s god of war.  Another is the Chiram who are actually the humans from our Earth as well as many other possible Earth’s merged into one new culture (some of them are even people who know Kei, but that’s a spoiler) and who are trying to capture Kei because he’s apparently vital to their plans to fix the corrupted space-time continuum and create a universe where they are the undisputed dominant power.  The final one is the Mu which are actually a robotic culture built for slave labour that have long since turned on their creators and now seek to exterminate all life on Earth for what I can only assume is the goal of establishing a Constitutional Robocracy.

Much of the series is focused on Kei’s continued attempts to stay out of the grasp of the Chiram from what I’ve seen so far, but you get with it the colourful cast you’d normally expect in a mecha series.  This next section will contain some spoilers for character origins (just the basics though) so read on at your peril.

The Characters:

kei5

Meet Kei Katsuragi, our hero and all around jet jockey/man’s man.  He’s essentially the opposite of Hikaru Ichijo from Macross.  Impulsive, hot-blooded, arrogant and…..

mimsy7

Damn Lucky

mimsy16

And that and this was Mimsy, his potential love interest of the series.  Mimsy is pretty much the standard easy-going, kind hearted and overly emotional moe bait of the series and yes those are tentacles coming out of her as all Emaan have

mimsy11

You know I always thought that moe didn’t exist in anime back in the 80’s, apparently it did in alternate universes though

ma-le2

And these two are Maaie and Lieea.  As you might have guessed by their similar names they are sisters and they primary role is to act as Kei’s wingmen during battle

ma_le1

They’re pretty close two.  Feel free to imagine what ever you want from this scene of two girls with tentacles hugging in a field

sray1

Every mecha series needs it’s milquetoast who has to eventually prove himself in some way and Sray is Orguss’.  Sray was originally engaged to marry Mimsy (who had no real interest in him by the way) before Kei came into the picture, but of course after that happened Mimsy feel for the much manlier Kei and the rest is history.  You’ve gotta have a love triangle and Sray will do anything, ANYTHING to win Mimsy’s love.

leegh

Leegh is the Emaan’s technical wizard and the person who designed the mighty Orguss.  Basically whenever they need problem solved he’s their man.

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He’s also pretty fond of Teniss like all Emaan seem to be.  And man does Mimsy look like some sort of Proto-Nagisa there

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Meet Gove who’s entire purpose seems to be to do old man stuff like complain about absolutely everything under the sun and on occassion dispense some wisdom.  He’s actually one of the few characters I don’t really care for

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Poputei is almost never seen without her two twins beside her (Even in SRWZ her character sprite defaults to having the twins in it).  Her husband was killed by the Terram and now she raises them on her own while trying to make do onboard the Glomar.  Kind of sad…..

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With her 80’s hairstyle Shaaya is the captain of the Glomar and thus pretty much the de facto leader of the Emaan we see

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Jaby I swear most have been the inspiration for Jar Jar Binks, only not quite so bad.  He’s a dinosaur from another alternate universe where they still existed, attained sentience, became the dominant species.  He spends most of his time chatting Kei up and providing comic relief for the audience.  Another character I’m not terribly fond of for obvious reasons

mome2

HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO LOLI!  Meet Mome who is my second favourite character next to Kei.  Mome is actually a Mu and is a medical android in the form of a loli who Kei picks up on a trade while stopped in town one episode.  She tends to act as if she’s in a subservient/slave relationship with Kei as her master most of the time (an Otaku’s dream come true no doubt) much to his annoyance, but he actually does care for her.  On top of being the Glomar’s doctor Mome also helps out by giving Kei massages, doing chores around the ship and helping repair mecha.  She’s a little too perfect in some respects, but then what loli character isn’t

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Mome Loli’s it up while Mimsy looks confused

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Kei tries to smooth things over with Mome

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A combat Mu whom Mome repaired, Tai starts of pretty full of itself, but eventually thanks to Mome’s reprogramming it becomes a valuable comrade to the Glomar crew

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Because it’s the 80’s, Olson where’s his sunglasses at night.  Kei’s former wingman and best friend from before the T/S Oscillation bomb went off, he’s now working for the Terram and trying to bring Kei over to their side again.  When he realizes that isn’t happening though he ends up joining his old friend on the Emaan side and becomes one of their pilots.

athena4

Kei’s daughter (who I swear is the spitting image of Millia Jenius) and now enemy sides with the Terram after the T/S Oscillation bomb incident.  Athena is one of the pilots tasked with capturing Kei (though she doesn’t know it’s him), but of course joins up with him again anyway.  She resents her father in many ways for not being their most of her life, but also takes after him in both personality and talent, being both hot-blooded and a top-notch pilot to boot.  Now if you’re wondering how Kei and his daughter can be around the same age it’s because she came into the current Earth years before Kei did and was raised by Olson whom she eventually develops a crush on.  And that’s why Kei wasn’t their most of her life

athena5

Athena in all her glory

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Robert is a Terram who is more than happy to play the villain.  Devoted entirely to the Terram cause he is one of the first people tasked with capturing Kei, a mission that eventually turns into an obsession as he tries and fails to the point where he’ll stop at nothing to see that he either succeeds or dies trying.  As a villain character I have to say Robert is one of the more interesting offering from any mecha series I’ve ever seen in that he plays the “bad guy” by choice, not by circumstance.  Yet he doesn’t really come across as messed up either.  I’d liken him to an Anavel Gato figure in idealogy and a Jerid Mesa character in practice.

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Henry on the other hand is a pretty black character who even the regular Terram forces don’t trust.  In fact his only friend in the world seems to be Robert as well as the only person whom he really respects.  He seems to have a rivalry with Athena that will eventually turn into outright hatred once things start to get more complicated

The Mecha:

orguss5

ORGUSS! ORGUSS! ORGUSS! SHIROI NO…..well we’ll get to that eventually.  Here it is at last, the title mecha of the series.  ORGUSS!  Built from the remains of the Bronco II fighter from Kei’s own universe that he trashed trying to escape the dimensional rifts, Orguss is meant to be a combat mecha that can achieve dominace in all possible situations.  Rather, because it was conceived during the height of the transformable robot craze (aka the 80’s) it is capable of transforming into an Orgroid mode (humanoid) for offense, Gerwalk mode (see Macross) for balance, fighter mode (which most closely resembles the original Bronco II) for speed, and Tank mode for defense.  One more transformation then a Valkryie eh?  On top of having top notch performance in speed and maneuverability, the Orguss comes with an optional missile gun (later a beam gun) and missile launchers in it’s arms.  Later on the Orguss gets mass produced as the Orguss 2, which lacks the gimmicks and extra control systems that were made specifically for Kei’s version.

mlov-l1

The M-Lover is the standard Emaan mecha and is primarily seen being piloted by Lieea and Maaie in custom colours of orange and blue respectively.  It’s cockpit design also seems to be the precursor to Karen’s Guren Nishiki in Code Geass.  It’s armed with the standard gatling gun and missile pods in the arms of course

ishkick2

The Ishkick is the standard Terram mecha with autocannons and missile pods as it’s primary weapons.  There are many varients such as a version that uses beam cannons as well as recon and command types, the latter of which has more missile pods then the standard version as well as a plasma weapon in the main body

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The Nikick (which is basically just a Valkyrie) is reserved solely for the top aces in the Terram military such as Athena.  Like the Orguss it has a Soldier, Gerwalk and Fighter mode, but is even more deadly as well as missile pods on the wings and legs, a tri-barrel beam gun.  In many ways it’s actually superior to the Orguss itself with the same top notch speed and maneuverability, but better armed

mu3

The Mu as a race are their own mecha and the true enemy of all living breathing beings in the Orguss universe.  Coming in Missile, Soldier and Command types, they have all of the perks of an Emaan or Terram mecha such as high maneuverability, missiles and beam weapons, but by far their most deadly ability is being able to teleport via a dimensional teleport device located on the space elevator (the same one from the beginning of the series and the same one Kei and Olson need to get to if they want to have any hope of repairing the time-space continuum), making it almost impossible to defend or prepare for an oncoming attack from them.

The Opening:

Sky Hurricane by Casey Rankin

Now let’s talk a little bit about the opening sequence here.  If you weren’t getting Macross vibes before, this should do it.  Performed by Casey Rankin, a British ex-pat living in Japan at the time, it has that rock-opera sort of feel that makes you want to know more.  Not only that, but the choreagraphy is simply stunning as well.  From the soft vocals during the opening as we travel down the elevator shaft, to the moment those Ishkick’s coming barrelling around the space elevator as the instrumental picks up to the part where the Orguss and M-LOVER’s launch from the Groma as the chorus kicks in, it’s a treat to the type of person (such as myself) who loves a well made anime opening.  Pure 80’s greatness.

Conclusion:

If you’re a fan of real robot anime (and Orguss is as real as they come) and still aren’t convinced that Orguss is worth watching, what if I told you (if you haven’t already guessed) that it is by the same studio and has all of the primary staff that brought us The Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, that Kei Katsuragi has the same Seiyuu as Maximillian Jenius (Sho Hayami), and that it delights in an Itano Circus on more than one occasion.  If that doesn’t convince you then nothing will, but for those who are, it is licensed in America and pretty cheap.  If you consider yourself any sort of real robot mecha fan and haven’t started watching Orguss then go do it now as it’s one of the many treasures of golden age of mecha and one of the most original entries in the genre, featuring great action, characters, animation (for the time) and music.

Orguss Gets The Kaioshin Sama Seal Of Approval

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13 Responses to “The Super Dimension Century Orguss (Strangers In A Strange Land)”


  1. 1 Camario November 21, 2008 at 7:04 am

    Orguss is a nice classic series, being something of an alternative take on Macross with a similar spirit but heading in a very different direction in spite of all the similarities. It’s usually lighthearted but also “heavier” in terms of its use of Sci-Fi and, arguably, melodrama.

    The dinosaur annoyed me and I wasn’t particularly concerned about Mome for the most part, but Kei, Mimsy, Athena and Olson were interesting enough. The love triangle itself…didn’t really grab me, but I suppose it’s another Macross concept that they tried to toy with.

    The mecha designs are alright and the animation remained mostly consistent, but repeated use of recycled frames during combat becomes a problem. While it never bored me outright, I found that the series tends to drag for a certain number of episodes, but the ending is memorable enough. Quite a bit of food for thought there.

    Apparently the show is getting hard to find these days, after the company behind the release ran into some unexpected problems with whoever was making the DVD-Rs.

  2. 2 Enact November 21, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Not at all being a fan of the Macross franchise, I had a few reservations going into this, but it all sounded and looked so darn unique I couldn’t resit, and I’m sure glad I did. It kinda reminds me of L.Gaim in it’s lightheartedness but had a really cool story with interesting sci fi concepts that you normally don’t see all that often anymore in mecha anime, or anime in general. In a way, it’s kinda like what I wanted SDF Macross to be, but a lot more. Need to get around to finishing it though and checking out Orguss 02 (the theme song for that is hypnotic)

  3. 3 Camario November 21, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    ^Orguss 02 is a good show on its own, with a nice soundtrack and OVA quality production values, but it’s not really much of a sequel to the original.

    It’s something completely different and what few links there are to Orguss seem somewhat cheap or even anti-climatic. Think Macross II.

  4. 4 ghostlightning November 22, 2008 at 10:58 am

    I only knew of this series because I used to see the rather expensive toys on the shelves back when I was a boy. Later on I found out about some parody designs that Kawamori & co. of Macross and his counterparts in Orguss put together for fun.

    Review is quite comprehensive and I’ll definitely refer to it when I consider watching the show in earnest.

  5. 5 Fail December 2, 2008 at 2:04 am

    Interesting. The original SDFM captivated me even being well before my generation (I’m 14), I might as well check this out. For some reason, these older anime series that did not have the immensely abundant budget and stunning animation as series do now, seem in some light superior. It’s sort of hard to explain the feeling, isn’t it Kaio?

  6. 6 Keiichi December 2, 2008 at 2:44 am

    Oh my, seems my name was changed to Fail without my realization >_<.

  7. 7 Kaioshin Sama December 3, 2008 at 9:06 am

    It’s because of the economic bubble Japan had in the 80’s that led to better funding, What they couldn’t do in terms of computer animation they were able to make up for with sheer force of funding to pay their animators that were drawing everything by hand.

    Also in many ways (especially now) there is an inverse relationship between quality of storytelling and the level of flashy animation in anime the same way there is often an inverse relationship between the American Blockbuster film with it’s flashy special effects and the Art Hourse film with it’s low budget film styles which often focus on delivering a message and experimenting with the limits of filmaking as a medium.

    Though again and in many ways the 80’s saw the first big boom for anime in terms of both maturation of content or quality and quantity of production thanks in no small part to the accomplishments of Mobile Suit Gundam and it’s highly unorthodox approach to what anime could be in terms of a storytelling device at the time. Though I think some credit should also be given to Space Battleship Yamato as well for getting the ball rolling (however slowly) back in 1974.

  8. 8 Keiichi December 5, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Hmm I wasn’t really talking about why they didn’t get funds, I was talking about how the older animes despite having lower funds are overall more enjoyable than many contemporary animes.

  9. 9 Kaioshin Sama December 5, 2008 at 1:45 am

    @Keiichi: Well I think the biggest reason is that they used to run a lot longer back then. These 13 episode quickies they have now barely give you enough time to tell a decent or compelling story. If you ask me 26 should be the bare minimum length a show should run. The second biggest reason is the decrease in original material. There are a lot more adaptations now and a lot of these adaptations are of stories with similar themes, be they fanservicey eroge or gag manga. Not to mention that if you’ve already read the manga or the eroge there is less of a reason to see the anime.

  10. 10 Keiichi December 6, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    And yet, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann was one of the most exciting series I have ever seen. Despite it being another mecha show Gainax presented it–in my opinion–a unique way. What do you think they did that made it stand out from all the rest?

  11. 11 amon November 4, 2009 at 3:52 am

    Does anyone know the name of the main battle theme tune in orguss the one with the guitars playing as its not on the ost??? thanx

  12. 12 Adsense FAQ Blog August 8, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    I’ll right away grab your rss feed as I can not find your e-mail subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly let me know so that I could subscribe. Thanks.

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