I was bombing around my various streaming services last night, trying to decide on something to watch before playing even more Horizon: Zero Dawn, and as I was going through my Crunchyroll queue, noticed the 1983 OVA (original video animation, for the less anime savvy) Dallos was sitting there. Originally I had been drawn to Dallos thanks to it's premise (more on that in a bit), but had hesitated on watching it due to...well frankly it's age.
Which is a little weird, considering I watch old/classic movies all the time, but I remember 80s cartoons....and...well...I knew that if I was not in the right frame of mind, Dallos would have no chance of working for me.
Well, last night was the "right" time, so how does Dallos hold up?
Dallos is the story of an uprising on the Moon, by Earth's Lunar mining colonies; essentially, in the 21st Century, Earth is drained of its resources, and to maintain the state of life (and the economy) on Earth, the Earth Federal Government colonizes the moon.
Anyway, after generations of treating the Lunar Colonists like garbage (even forcing them to have identification rings embedded in their foreheads), a faction within the colonists start to revolt, and young Shun Nomonura is swept along into the fight. Lurking in the colonists corner is Dallos, a mysterious structure (shaped a bit like a face) which has come to be a rallying cry, a sanctuary, and something of a God to the people of the Moon....but no one seems to know what Dallos is...
Dallos feels like it draws heavily from 1980s, bombastic action movies, while also taking cues from The Battle of Algiers in the way the story, rather deftly (considering the era) handled both sides of the conflict. I really appreciated that while the OVA did occasionally feel like a strange mix of anime, the 90s X-Men cartoon, and Transformers, the characters were actually interesting, and motivations actually came from a nuanced depth.
I'm going to say that, and then, because there's no trailer I could find to show you Dallos, I'm going to post a still frame of the head of the Earth contingent on the Moon being manly and stopping a crime:
The image above is actually a pretty fair example of what the animation is like throughout; it's very early-80s, and occasionally even gave me some Lord of the Rings or X-Men vibes. The style of the animation actually added a bit of charm to Dallos for me; I came to like the gritty, old-school feel as a part of the overall package.
I also have to mention Dallos' soundtrack--it is pure 1980s cheese, and if you are not into that, there is absolutely no way you are getting through the OVA. It's synth-y, it's rock-y, it definitely uses electronic drums more than anyone should, and it seems to appear at strange moments, but by the fourth act (the OVA is told in 4 "acts" which are essentially 30min TV episodes), I had come to enjoy it, and it just became a part of the spectacle.
There are problems with Dallos, as well; the time in-between acts was off putting, considering they were essentially half an hour, and the all of a sudden, things were a different, which also made some of the side/minor characters flat. This didn't hurt my enjoyment of the OVA, once it clicked into my head that it's a pulpy 80s action movie, but I feel like if you don't but into that right away, you are never going to enjoy yourself with this.
It feels weird to say it, but I think Dallos would probably have been better as a series--maybe not a full 22 episodes, but I feel like this pretty cool (and very grounded) sci-fi premise coult have easily sustained an 11 episode arc. There's even a part of me that wishes to see a remake, or even a live-action film with this premise in it, as it's a time-tested one, and it could be done in an interesting way (just like this OVA).
Also, a pack of cyborg dogs modernized up would be awesome.
I do recommend Dallos if you find the premise interesting, and you're willing to buy in to a lot of weird 1980s goodness...just don't expect this to be Akira, and you should enjoy yourself.
PS: I'm going to dabble a bit with "TGF Anime Chat" and see how it feels; let me know if there's anything you would like me to chat about on Twitter, or in the comments below.