Many North American anime distributors have come and gone, such as Geneon Entertainment, ADV Films and / or Central Park Media. Since 2005, distributor based in Florida nightclub defied those odds, finding demand in the release of vintage animated films, OVAs and series, allowing young American audiences to experience seminal expressions in the industry. The biggest franchise that Discotek has done a great service for is Lupine III, an anime whose roots began in 1967 from the late Monkey Punch manga.
But the Discotek catalog is not only reserved for Lupine III Fans. Below is a list of the ten best anime OVA movies and titles currently licensed and distributed by Discotek, with more popular titles coming in 2020.
ten Farewell Galaxy Express 999 (1981)
Farewell Galaxy Express 999 is the magnificent sequel to Rinatro Galaxy express 999 (1979). While the original animated film was a condensed remake of the first part of the television series (hence a direct rework of the manga), Goodbye turns Leiji Matsumoto’s story into another work of art. Tetsuro is a teenage freedom fighter when he climbs back aboard the 999 (or Three Nine) under Maetel’s recommendation.
On the train, Tetsuro goes to many places and meets new people. However, Maetel is identical to Tetsuro’s late mother, which makes Maetel’s motives even less clear for Tetsuro. While the story can fall flat at times, it’s the beauty of the animation and the art direction that makes this film a place on the list.
9 Devilman: The Complete OVA Series (1987) / (1990)
The mask belongs to Akira’s best friend, Ryo Asuka, and has the power to turn whoever wears it into a demon. Ryo enlists Akira’s help in preventing the demons from taking over the world by forcing Akira to wear the mask. Akira is eventually taken over by the demon lord Amon but can still retain his humanity, allowing him to become an ally in Ryo’s war. Violently obscene with moments of mutilation, beheading and gore, Devilman: The Complete OVA Series is a must-have for anyone who enjoys the horror anime genre.
8 Carnival of the Robots (1987)
Composed of several short films and an opening and ending sequence, Robots Carnival presents the talents of Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira, 1988) and Hiroyuki Kitazume (Zeta Gundam mobile suit, 1985). The first entry, “Franken’s Gears,” is about a mad scientist giving life to a robot with lightning.
As the film progresses, additional titles include “Deprive”, “Presence”, “Star Light Angel”, “Cloud” and “Strange Tales of the Meiji Machine Culture: Westerners’ Invasion”. All of the stories vary in both design and subject matter, but to some extent the narratives within Robots Carnival all attempt to discuss humanity’s relationship with robots.
7 Arcadia of my youth (1982)
The portrayal of Captain Harlock in Arcadia of my youth is mastery. The film focuses on Harlock’s story and ultimately creates a stronger bond between the audience and Leiji Matsumoto’s original space pirate.
When the film focuses on Harlock “today”, audiences are confronted with an Earth collapsing under alien domination, and Harlock is propagated like a traitor. Many themes, such as the power of friendship and comradeship, opinions about war and humanity’s relationship to itself, its past and its purpose are explored in this brilliant and visually stunning entry into the Matsumoto cannon.
6 Space Adventure Cobra (1982)
Space adventure cobra likes not to take themselves seriously but can be seen as a huge influence when, 15 years later, titles such as Cowboy Bebop (1998) and Outlaw star (1998) made their debut on the space opera scene.
Cobra, a bounty hunter with a “psychogun” on his arm, is said to be dead. However, he is alive and well when he meets the beautiful Jane Royal, a woman who is running against her syndicated crime bounty. The hunt begins as they search for Jane’s two sisters and embark on a bigger adventure to save Jane’s planet. Space adventure cobra creates unprecedented fluidity in its action sequences and, while its story lacks the depth of some others on this list, is a comedic entry with a lot of heart.
5 The Fantastic Adventures of Unico (1981) / Unico on the Magic Island (1983)
Based on the Osamu Tezuka children’s manga of the same name, this set contains two feature films about the Unico unicorn, titled The fantastic adventures of Unico and Unico on the magic island. In Fantastic Adventures of Unico, The story of Unico is the center of attention, describing adventures after his abandonment and the friends he makes and helps along the way through the songs.
In the follow-up Unico on the magic island, Unico’s memory is blown away by the west wind to protect the precious animal from the angry gods. Unico makes a few more friends and tries to thwart Lord Kuruku’s plan to turn everything into “Living Puppets”.
4 Cagliostro Castle (1979)
Better known as the first animated film director, Hayao Miyazaki, Cagliostro Castle is a wacky and quick entry to the Lupine III franchise. The film begins with Lupine and Jigen fleeing a casino with a stolen stock of money. The two soon discover that the banknotes are counterfeit and decide to investigate the source of the counterfeit money, heading towards Cagliostro. Before reaching their destination, Lupine and Jigen are involved in a high-speed chase, ending with Lupine’s rescue and the later loss of Clarisse, the Princess of Cagliostro.
The story continues to unfold and includes appearances of other must-sees Lupine III characters such as Fujiko Mime, Inspector Zenagata and Goemon. While this movie’s Lupine is a bit different in terms of personality from the previous animated series, Miyazaki’s distinct style is clear, even in her early days.
3 God Mars: The Movie (1982)
God Mars: The Movie is a modified version of the original 64-episode animated series. The box set available on Discotek contains the anime, the reworked film, and an additional OVA, God Mars: the unspeakable legend. God Mars: The Movie revolves around Takeru, a seventeen-year-old sent to Earth as a baby to destroy him.
When Takeru discovers the truth behind his being, he refuses to follow Emperor Zul’s orders to detonate the doomsday bomb. However, if Takeru dies, the bomb will automatically detonate, making Takeru’s fight against Zul even more perilous! Takeru also possesses the ability to control the titular Godmars, a combination of six robots, with his mind, allowing him to use the powerful weapon in the event of conflict.
2 Urusei Yatsura 2: The Beautiful Dreamer (1984)
Urusei Yatsura 2: the beautiful dreamer is toned down in the comedy and fanservice of the previous film. With the cast of Only you (1983), Beautiful dreamer is the immediate sequel and focuses on a school festival where the team is in charge of a “Nazi-themed” cafe. Despite the band’s best efforts to prepare, festival day never seems to come! The beauty of this film deals with metaphorical notes on the philosophy of dreams and human constructions of time and space.
With its bold colors and iconic Rumiko Takahashi design, this film became an inspiration even decades later.
1 Golden Boy (1995)
As a six-episode OVA series, Golden boy is definitely the most … erotic on this list. Kintaro Oe is a 25-year-old who dropped out of the law department at the University of Tokyo. He travels around Japan on his bike in search of part-time jobs to fill his perverted brain with usable knowledge. He seems to objectify the women around him so much that he imagines them using the toilet, which he cleans and usually rubs their face on the seat.
However, Kintaro is intelligent and empathetic, earning the respect of these women. Golden boy is a parody of his time and shows how much Kintaro enjoys learning, serving and putting himself below the women (all in power in their respective roles) that he meets to accomplish his quest “to study, to study, to study” and not to never fail his quest for knowledge.
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