Danguard Ace: The Movie Collection
Created by Leiji Matsumoto
Directed by William Winckler
Toei Animation / Shout! Factory
Release Date: November 19, 2013
“Danguard Ace, Transformation, Switch on!” Danguard Ace, or Wakusei Robo Danguard Ace, as it was originally known, is the brainchild of ’70s anime creator Leiji Matsumoto, who brought us such timely gems as Space Battleship Yamato, Galaxy Express 999, and Captain Harlock. On November 19, Shout! Factory released Danguard Ace: The Movie Collection just in time for the holidays.
The films are edited and dubbed versions of the original television series, which was first seen here in the U.S. as part of the Force Five series in the late ’70s. The story takes place in the future, where the Earth has been depleted of its natural resources. A fictional planet, named Promete (pronounced Pro-May-Tay) is beginning to enter the solar system. In response, Earth sends out a manned mission to explore the new planet in the hopes of colonizing and using its resources to save humanity. But Dr. Doppler, a man bent on using the planet for his own purposes, opposes the mission, and sets himself up as Chancellor on the new planet. Through mind control, he causes the team leader of the expedition to sabotage his own mission and then enslaves the survivors to his will. Chancellor Doppler then builds up defenses on Promete, forbidding Earth forces to land there. Leaders on Earth presume that the mission is completely lost, with all hands killed in action.
Ten years go by and the team leader’s son, Takuma Ichimonji, struggles to come to terms with his father’s death while defending Earth from the evil plans of Chancellor Doppler and his henchmen. While fighting one of Doppler’s giant robots, a mysterious stranger arrives in a fighting craft of his own, destroying the robot. He is an escapee from Doppler’s prison, and has no memory of who he was before. Calling himself Captain Dan, he begins training Takuma to pilot the Danguard Ace, A giant robot built by Earth to fight off the incursions from Chancellor Doppler’s forces and reclaim Promete for humanity.
This production is classic Matsumoto, and it’s his only venture into the “˜Giant Robot’ genre of anime. The space opera drama, highly stylized and sometimes overtly cartoonish character designs, analog controls, and the overall feel of the movies are all on par with Matsumoto’s other works of that time.
Fans of late ’70s anime who fondly remember the adapted series that made their way across the Pacific to these shores will have a blast watching Danguard Ace. I recommend heating up a big tub of popcorn and pouring yourself an ice-cold coke before you settle into the easy chair to watch this title. It’s not Miyazaki, but hey, it’s a lot of fun, in the same way that Battle of the Planets, Starblazers, and Robotech were. Take a trip down memory lane this holiday season, and enjoy the journey. Danguard Ace, transformation, SWITCH ON!
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