Harmagedon / Genma Taisen
“Harmagedon: Genma Wars” (Genma Taisen) is a 132 minute movie from 1983 with impressive talent behind it; directed by Rintaro (“Sabu to Ichi”, the original “Captain Harlock” TV series, “ Neo-Tokyo: Labyrinth - Labyrinthos”, “Dagger of Kamui”, “Metropolis”), with character designs by Katsuhiro Otomo (“Akira”, “Robot Carnival- The Robot Carnival”, “Roujin Z”, “Steamboy” ), and based on the manga written by Kazumasa Hirai (“8 man”, “Wolf Guy”) and illustrated by Shotaro Ishinomori (“Cyborg 009”, “Masked/Kamen Rider”, “Sabu and Ichi’s Detective Stories”).
The ultimate force of destruction in the universe is coming: Genma, an evil being of pure energy, which leaves nothing but desolation in his wake, the Apocalypse incarnate! Warned by another being of pure energy, Floy, the psychic Transylvanian Princess Luna is partnered with an alien cyborg warrior, Vega, and charged with the duty to bring together Earth’s “Psyonic Warriors” to save our world.
The first “warrior” the two enlist is a whiney, emo Japanese teen, Joe Azuma. After not making the school baseball team; being looked down on by his friend; and being dumped by his would-be girlfriend because he’s too fond of his sister, Michiko; he is ambushed by the dynamic duo in an alley and attacked in order to awaken his latent telekinetic powers. When his powers emerge, Luna and Vega explain that they’re the “good guys.” Joe runs home, but then later decides to join the fight for justice, because he accidentally kills the girl who dumped him, when she is possessed by Genma’s minion, Zambi, who was hunting for Joe; and because his sister thinks the idea of joining up to save the world is swell!
While sister-lovin’ Joe is thinking over his upcoming heroic career, Luna and Vega head to New York in order to recruit the streetwise, roller-skating, African American, punk kid teleporter, Sonny. In the process the pair face off against Genma’s other body nabbing, evil energy minion, Zamedi. Overpowered, Luna and Vega psychically call for help, and immediately the entire rest of the Psyonic Team appears, altogether (huh…maybe they should have just done that first?): the aforementioned Joe Azuma; old Indian Yogi, Yogin; a Native American Cowboy, Salamander; a Saudi Warrior, Asanshi; and a young Chinese girl martial artist, Tao.
With the team together, they head back to Japan, and just miss saving Joe’s sis Michiko from Zambi, who attacks and kills her. However, grief-stricken Joe doesn’t have much time to morn. He must pull himself together after Tokyo is completely destroyed, because all the local doe-eyed deer, fuzzy chipmunks, and other attractive fauna gather around him for safety. Through their psychic powers, the team instinctively knows what they must do. And they head to Mount Fuji in order to battle Genma -- and save the planet!
“We’re children of the light.”
“Harmagedon” has a really unique look, with great scenes of destruction: ruined buildings, burning forests, flowing lava, and apocalyptic devastation; as well as some interesting character designs. Unfortunately, its plot is a mess. Its simplistic views on ecology and stereotypical race relations, as well as its use of psychic powers, is highly dated. The movie seems like it should have been made in the 1970s (Keith Emerson of ELP did the soundtrack!), and is definitely trying too hard to be relevant and groovy. Also, this should have been a fun, fast-paced, Sci-Fi blockbuster, and, while some of the fights and atmosphere scenes are nice, as a whole, the movie is terribly, self importantly paced, and seems to go on and on… forever.