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Space Runaway Ideon - Tomino's work may just not meant for me

Densetsu Kyojin Ideon, or Space Runaway Ideon, is a mecha show from Yoshiyuki Tomino. Tomino is one polarising figure, and it's not difficult to see why. While the guy may have some hilarious interviews, he's also a good director. Or is he? Tomino got his start in the anime industry while it was still in its infancy, as he worked on Astro Boy, so he's got experience. And I do have a hard time calling Tomino a bad director, because while there are some parts of his shows where the negatives are because of things outside of his control, it's also often his fault entirely. And I feel that, even more than Gundam 0079, Ideon captures that perfectly. Let's get this out of the way first, Ideon is way too long. Not that I think thirty nine episodes in general is too long, not at all. Season 1 of Ashita no Joe is 79 episodes and manages to spend each minute of that runtime perfectly. Ideon? Not so much. So if you're going to watch Ideon, just watch the recap movie instead. This isn't a case like with Yamato, where by watching the movies you get a much more watered down experience compared to the full TV show. Because each episode of Yamato is interesting, and good. The same can not be said for Ideon, as the show drags on, and on, and on, only actually becoming interesting during the last few episodes and during the sequel movie.

Well, to make it more clear, what do I dislike about Tomino's directing? His way of doing it minute by minute isn't bad at all. Just watch an episode of 0079 and you'l see why. But, in a way, that's exactly the problem. To illustrate my point better, here's a crudely drawn image I drew in Paint.

As you can see, on the upper side of the image, we have the plot progression of a normal show. Where each episode leads into the next one. Think your average 13-episode anime, they all work like this. Even long running shonen and magical girl shows follow this plot progression. But Tomino, is another beast entirely. For while each episode may "lead into the next one", it sure as hell does not feel like it. In one episode they could be doing something like running away from aliens, and in the other they find some random human settlement. Now this would suggest that his shows are episodic, but they aren't. There's still an overarching story, and it's not like a show such as Cardcaptor Sakura or Yamato, where while each episode may usually be an episodic story in the larger narrative, it still has a beginning, middle and end. No. Things move forward, and you're aware of it, but it doesn't feel like it. You hear about progress in the war, and maybe you see some person die, but it doesn't like it happened. That's what the lines going backwards represent. You watch an episode, think, "oh, that was cool," so you watch the next one, and while it's the same cast and they're still on the same quest, it doesn't feel correct. It's a kind of thing where I think you need to watch it for yourself to properly understand what I'm trying to express.

Another problem with Ideon, is that there is no goal that the characters work towards. They just have to escape from a group of aliens. What kind of plot is that!? Run away, with no other goal? It's like staring into a dark tunnel, you have no idea where it's going to go. Now eventually, the plot is explained. The Ideon wants to reset life by making everyone fight to the death. Which sounds cool, and it is, but it makes you wonder why you were just watching some idiots aimlessly wandering around in space for 39 episodes-look it's difficult to explain, I'm trying but I don't think I can properly convey it. That's not to say that I dislike Ideon though. So what do I like about it? Well, giant robot. It's cool to see the giant robot cause destruction, and that's about all I like about it. The characters are fairly bland, both personality and design wise, except for the main character Cosmo, who has an afro, for some reason. But Ideon doesn't have a distinct visual style, you could swap any of the designs for those from Gundam and it woudn't look off a bit. The soundtrack is nice I guess, the OP and ED are, admittedly, pretty cool.


Overall, I do mildly enjoy Ideon, but I most definetely will not be revisiting it, and to be honest, I don't have that much interest in checking out Tomino's other work. I've read some interviews with him, and he's a cool dude and all. He's been in the anime industry since its inception, working on Astro Boy and all. He knows how to make cool giant robots, and while he is really skilled on an episode to episode basis, the lack of structure in his overarching plots and the fact that I personally, do not connect that well with his shows, I've concluded with that they're probably just not for me. I won't deny that he's a skilled creator with some great achievments under his belt (even if his claim to fame is just ripping off Yamato but this time with robots), but I have a hard time sitting through the entirety of his shows. My personal rating for Ideon, is a 6/10. Although if it weren't for his style of directing overarching narratives, I'd have no doubt I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

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