Cephus' Corner

A Place to Share my Geeky Side With the World. Comics, movies, TV, collecting, you name it, I indulge in it.

Daicon IV: 30 Years Already? - Cephus' Corner

Daicon IV: 30 Years Already?

September 30th, 2013

DAICON4Just on the border of your waking mind…
There lies another time…
Where darkness and light are one…
And as your tread the halls of sanity…
You feel so glad to be…
Unable to go beyond…
I have a message from another time…

Those are the opening lyrics from E.L.O.’s Twilight and anyone who has been an anime fan for any length of time knows them from somewhere else, the amazing opening animation to Daicon IV, the Osaka version of the Nihon SF Taikai science fiction convention, which has been held annually in Japan since 1962.  In 1981, at the third Daicon convention, a group of talented fans put together a short animated featurette to kick off the con, featuring a young girl, chased by aliens and monsters, determined to save a dying radish and thus save an alien race.  It was so popular that when the convention rolled around to Osaka again in 1983, they came back with a new piece of animation and this time, they blew everyone away.  Those talented animators soon became Gainax, led by Hideaki Anno, who went on to produce such anime classics as Wings of Honneamise, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Gurren Laggann.

The animation celebrates it’s 30th anniversary this year and I thought it would be fun to put it out there again as the piece of anime history that it is.  It is still an utterly amazing piece of hand drawn animation, from a group of fans, not professional animators.  I think fans today would be hard pressed to equal the quality of animation here without the use of computers.

Some trivia for you.  Originally, the Daicon IV video was planned to be 15 minutes long and filmed in 16mm.  However, this proved to be far too long and too difficult for the amateur filmmakers to manage so it, like Daicon III was filmed on 8mm stock.  It was also too expensive to make correctly so instead of standard acetate cels, they used vinyl sheets instead, which caused no end of trouble for the filmmaker.  Both of these films were time intensive affairs and neither of them were finished until the morning they were shown to the world.  In fact, the production of the Daicon III video was so expensive that it put the producers into debt, making them sell video tape copies of the animation at conventions to recoup costs.  This means that Daicon III likely qualifies as the first Original Video Animation instead of Dallos, which was released more than 2 years later.  While the Daicon videos are the most famous, they are not the first opening animation projects.  That goes to TOKON 6 in 1976, directed by Noboru Ishiguro, written by Haruka Takachiho, with art direction and production design by Naoyuki Katoo and Kazuki Miyatake.  Ichiro Itano worked on the swords in the Daicon IV animation, which is why they operate very similarly to his famous “Itano Circus” missles, seen in many Tatsunoko series like Macross.

The plot is simple.  It begins with a brief retelling of the Daicon III story against music by Kitaro, since Daicon IV is a sequel of sorts to that video.  We drop into Prologue, from E.L.O.’s Time album, where we see the silhouette of a giant radish against a starscape. This is a take on words, which the Japanese are famous for, the radish is called a “daikon”, also the name of the convention and has been adopted as an unofficial symbol. Thereafter, we shift in time, the girl with the backpack from Daicon III has grown up into the bunny girl mascot and they’re after her again.  She battles her way through a variety of anime mecha, science fiction and fantasy villains, across a variety of literary science fiction worlds.  It ends with a flyby of a huge number of science fiction, fantasy, literary, movie, anime and tokusatsu characters before we spin into the Daicon IV logo. The scope of the references in this short animation is breathtaking, but because I don’t want to ruin the flow here, I’ll go ahead and list as many different references as I can at the very end of the article.

The animation had some problems though.  Nobody bothered to ask E.L.O. for music rights or Hugh Hefner if they could use the Playboy Bunny costume and thus, with rights issues aplenty, the film took many years to achieve an official release outside of Japan.  Still, the video was smuggled out of Japan on traded video tapes, I think I saw it in mid-1984 at an anime club meeting.  The characters and some clips from the video appeared in Gainax’s 1991 self-referential video Otaku no Video.

For anyone who wants to see the Daicon III animation and the beginning of the story, here it is.  There are a ton of sci-fi, fantasy and animation references here too, among them the super-deformed mecha that chases the girl, designed by Studio Nue’s Kazutaka Miyatake, originally for a Japanese version of Starship Troopers:

I think it’s clear that the team has progressed an amazing distance between 1981 and 1983 in terms of animation style, they were learning as they went, I view Daicon IV to be a light-year leap beyond the style used two years earlier.

In 2005, the famous Japanese drama series Densha Otoko paid homage to this classic bit of animation with an updated opening of it’s own which ties the newly updated bunny girl  to the “train man” theme.

So here goes the crazy bit.  I’m going to try to identify as many characters as I can in the Daicon IV video.  Some are easy.  Some are virtually impossible.  If anyone knows any of them that I miss, by all means let me know.  Here I go:

Daicon2

What the heck is this?

In the opening battle sequence, she is attacked by Gundam mecha, including a red Zaku. Then she fights off a multitude of monsters, primarily from Ultraman, including Gyango, Red King, Baltan Seijin, Takkong, Pole Seijin, Zetton, Mephilus, and SeagorasArstron, Jamila, ZarabKing Joe, Seabozu, Twin Tail, Gesura, Dada, and Saturn, with the Toho logo in the background.  Next, we see her in a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader, with cheering stormtroopers and the Deathstar in the background.  An alien, from Alien, attacks her from atop a hill, holding the Discovery from 2001: A Space Oddyssey.  She is knocked down and the Dyna Robo from Kagaku Sentai Dynaman falls on her.  She picks up the robot and smashes it against the cliff, coincidentally introducing the first appearance of the “Gainax bounce“.  Michael Moorcock’s “Stormbringer” appears in the sky and she leaps onto it.  We see a couple of quick sequences, such as Yoda, with various characters in the audience including C-3PO and Chewbacca from Star Wars,  Nazoh from Moonlight Mask, and a Pira with a nametag reading “Tarō the Blaster” (Bakuhatsu Tarō) on his chest.  Bunny girl continues to surf on Stormbringer, over the landscape of Jack Chalker’s Well World, when she runs smack into a group of Ultrahawk-1’s, from Ultra Seven, followed by the Macross, with the Yamato and Arcadia attached as arms.  A Macross VF-1 Valkyrie pulls a Gundam-style light sword from it’s head in a coffee shop, I’m not sure if that’s intended to be a maid cafe or not but it reminds me a lot of Minmay’s restaurant in Macross.  She then flies past a collage a collage of literary characters including some from Lord of the Rings, Conan and Narnia, followed by a group of American comic book heroes including Captain AmericaRobinBatmanSpider-ManSuperman, and Wonder Woman, before heading into the blackness of space where she encounters a Klingon D-7 battlecruiser, the ship from H.G. Wells’ First Men in the MoonThunderbird, a TIE fighter, and the Millennium Falcon.   Next, we see a sequence of  anime and tokusatsu characters including Kamen RiderJumborg Ace, the Shooting Star, an Ohmu from Nausicaä of the Valley of the WindNausicaä herself, Lynne MinmayMazinger Z, CoolCutie Honey and Vega from Harmageddon.  She then leaps off the sword and it splits into seven colorful versions of itself, spewing colored smoke.  We see different ships crashing into each other, Jaguar Vulcan (from Sun Vulcan) vs. MogueraMothra vs. the Yamato, White Base vs. Atragon, something I’ve yet to identify (see picture above if you can  help) vs. the Thunderbird 5 station, followed by a massive explosion.  This causes a massive upheaval and destruction amidst a flurry of sakura blossoms.  The Daikon, SDF-1-style, fires it’s main cannon, rejuvenating the planet.  We see scenes with various characters, Robby the Robot and the robot from Silent Running, Breetai and Doraemon dressed as Char Aznable, a sentai team, and two sentai villains. Finally, the bunny girl flies over a massive crowd of characters from anime, science fiction, fantasy, movies, television and books and this is where it’s going to be really spotty and I know I’m going to miss a huge number because it happens in about 4 seconds. Anna, Apollo Geist, Ātman, BandelBarom One, BartBatBig XBoss BorotCaptain DyceChar AznableCobraCornelius,Cyborg 009Densen Man, Doruge (a Toei kaijū), Fighters, DoraemonGavanGill-manGort, Hack, Hakaider, Hell Ambassador, the Invisible ManInspector ZenigataKamen Rider V3KanegonKemur,King JoeLum from Urusei YatsuraLupin III, Maria from Metropolis, Metalinom, Metaluna MutantMartian from the 1953 War of the WorldsMing the MercilessMoonlight MaskQ-tarōPris,Robby the RobotRobokon, the Robot Gunslinger from WestworldRobot SantōheiSnake PlisskinSoran the Space BoySpace AceSpeed RacerSpockSupermanSuper SentaiSusumu Kodai,Tetsujin 28Triton, and a Xilien.  The sun rises over the Earth and spins into the Daicon IV logo and I go lie down for a bit. 🙂

Comments

11 Comments

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  • Andrew Kim says on: March 29, 2014 at 7:42 pm

     

    Oh, my, you are truly an old time anime geek. I would not be surprised if you managed to get your hand on original laser disc of Daicon III & IV animation.

    Your posting of Daicon brings back a memory. I consider the 80’s the golden age of Japanese
    animation.

    I’m not as geeky as you but I did my share of helping to bring Japanese animation here to California starting from Anime Con 1991, Anime Expo 1992, Anime America 1993, Fanime Con 1994, Anime Expo 1995, Fanime Con 1996-1998. Most of them I volunteered as department head of translators.

    Looking back sometimes I wondered would it have been better if I stayed as regular fan because running convention was such a pain. Well, to be honest there were some perks like getting up front and chatting with Japanese GoH. ^_^;

    • Cephus says on: March 30, 2014 at 4:35 pm

       

      Oh, I go back a lot farther than that, I have the original laserdisc, as you said, I was close to a founding member of the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization back in the late 70s. I ran one of the oldest and largest local area anime fan clubs, etc. By the time the anime cons came around, I was pretty much out of it, although I did help organize some of the earliest and provided some of the material for the video rooms, but I was really beyond being that closely involved in the fandom by that time. Sure, running conventions is a pain, I’ve run more than my fair share, but someone has to do the work and I’ve never had a problem being the one putting in long hours to help the fandom succeed. Plus, as you said, getting to know a lot of the GoH’s is always fun, in both anime and sci-fi/fantasy/comics, etc. It was always cool at SDCC to meet Ray Bradbury in the same place on the floor every single year and go have a chat, it was the only place I ever really saw him and now that he’s gone, that’s a good memory.

      Today, anime is unfortunately not the same. I wish it was the same as it was in the early 80s, I might still be interested in it.

      • Harke says on: June 17, 2014 at 10:45 am

         

        Sir you are a gentleman and a scholar.

        • Cephus says on: June 17, 2014 at 11:09 am

           

          Well, I don’t know about that, I’ve just been around for a long time. Thanks though.

  • Andrew Kim says on: March 30, 2014 at 11:53 pm

     

    Wow, you knew C/FO founder? You met Ray Bradbury? That is impressive. 😀

    I’m little surprised I am the first to leave comment here. I guess Daicon III & IV does not carry much impact that it did to you or me. I consider the LD I have my pride and joy. Now if I can find the art book that was sold in conjunction.

    Lastly, thanks much for writing about Daicon. Hope there will be others soon who will leave comment here.

    • Cephus says on: March 31, 2014 at 8:39 am

       

      I was very good friends with the people who started the C/FO and I’ve gotten to know a lot of famous people over the years, mostly because the early conventions were a lot more social than the ones today, where celebrities are kept at arm’s length. Back in the old days, when people didn’t take it all that seriously, you used to be able to go out to dinner with authors and actors and the like and get to know them. Today, that’s pretty hard to do.

      Good luck finding that art book!

  • Mike R says on: August 13, 2014 at 12:06 am

     

    The recent San Diego ComiCon got me nostalgic for the anime titles I grew up with…
    I didn’t get into anime until the late 80’s (Macross DYRL, Megazone 23, Gatchaman and Nausicaa were my first titles), but I remember getting a bootleg copy of the Daicon IV animation and being amazed! So I found it on YouTube today and it’s still pretty damn impressive! I tried picking out all of the references, but after about 2 minutes I gave up and found your page. Thank you so much for posting this!

    • Cephus says on: August 13, 2014 at 12:21 am

       

      Sure. I did my best but, as you said, it’s a daunting task. I’m kind of surprised that the creators never posted a list of the references anywhere, they’d be the ones who would know because they animated the whole thing. I still think the 80s were the heyday of anime, especially sci-fi anime, it’s a shame that there are so many people who refuse to watch anything older than a couple of years. They’re really missing out.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Lokkz says on: February 9, 2015 at 11:07 am

     

    Damn you are one cool person, How did you find your laserdisc copy

  • zeonicfreak says on: August 2, 2015 at 7:21 pm

     

    Since you mentioned the TOKON 6 opening, is there a way to find that online? I’m really curious about seeing that.

    As for Daicon IV, I show that at one of the panels I do for a local South Carolina con called Banzaicon. It’s an instant “get the crowed fired up” kinda video to kick off whatever I have to show for 2 hours.

    I have always known about the laserdisc existing but never met anyone to claim they have one. That is pretty impressive to have in your collection I must say.

  • ruggedalbatross says on: May 19, 2017 at 7:31 am

     

    Oh man, i don’t know if you’ve ever seen this on an HLD-X0, but it’s special.

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Cephus' Corner

A Place to Share my Geeky Side With the World. Comics, movies, TV, collecting, you name it, I indulge in it.