This was an anime that was based upon the manga written by Yoshiki Takaya and published in Lemon people back in 1984. The anime was a four part OVA released in 1988 and didn’t see US shores until the early 90s.
A group called Hau Dragon is a secret Chinese organization bent on world conquest. Their way of taking over is through the Hakkeshu – a band of giant mecha, with lethal weapons and pilots vying for the leadership. However, one this is missing and that mecha is Zeorymer of the Heavens which was stolen by one of the pilots. Masato Akitsu is a teenager caught by a Japanese secret organization and forced to pilot Zeorymer. The more time goes on, the more Masato realizes there is a reason why he is the perfect pilot for this mecha.
The Zeitgeist of the 90s when this dropped:
I remember the first time I saw this OVA, my then best friend had it on VHS and at the time it was untranslated so we did our best to follow along. I didn’t find a copy of this with subtitles until around 1994 and this became one of my favorites. One of the things that I really enjoyed is that this was more mature in theme than what we were getting in America at the time. The underlying plot while not exactly well thought out, was steeped in love, betrayed and trust. In the 80s and 90s, we were absorbed by Transformers, Voltron, Tranzor Z (Mazinger Z) and Robotech. For some of us, the Gundam series wasn’t yet on the radar but once Zeorymer dropped it was a coveted VHS tape to get.
So, what made this so hot? For one, it was the action in the movie. Now to be perfectly honest although the plot was a bit confusing due to so much being cut out from the manga, most of us hung around for the mecha battles and that is where it delivered. Each episode opened with one of the Hau Dragon pilots plotting to take down Zeorymer and then we get to see a bit more of Masato develop from a scared boy to a cold hearted killer and then off he goes to fight. The fight scenes and artwork for this late 80s production was some of the best I had seen at that point. The contrasts with light and dark set precedence with anime that many have taken on and improved upon ever since.
The issue however as I stated earlier was the plot. The characters throughout weren’t all that well developed as they were more lambs to the slaughter than totally fleshed out characters. Again, there was an underlying story regarding trust but moreover, it was about transformation. Masato was finding out more about himself each time he piloted Zeorymer and before it’s all over he has to make consequential choices. It’s just that in the 4 episodes we still didn’t learn enough about what made each pilot and robot tick to feel any affinity for them outside of Zeorymer. But for some of us at the time, we didn’t care. We loves the battles, we loved seeing Zeorymer making comebacks against the odds and even with a few little twists here and there, we cheered for Zeorymer to win. After seeing this, many of us thirsted for bigger mecha action and I think the closest thing I found beyond this was the Dangioh series.
Where to find it now and is it worth getting:
If you cruise through Amazon, you can get volumes 1 and 2 of this series between 5 to 25 dollars. It’s not a bad deal and for me, due to the nostalgia of what big mecha was like 20+ years ago, it’s worth watching. If you don’t dig the story, it’s good to watch just to see the quality of the art was before everything went to CGI rendering. I actually got the DVD set not too long after seeing Pacific Rim and loved all of the memories it brought back and this time, just happy that I didn’t have to worry about the tape popping…that’s what happened to my original.