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  Moldiver We have perfect physiques, we're cunning and sleek
Year: 1993
Director: Hiroyuki Kitazume
Stars: Toshiyuki Morikawa, Yukana Nogami, Akiko Hiramatsu, Emi Shinohara, Izumi Kikuchi, Jouji Yanami, Kaoru Shimamura, Kikuko Inoue, Kumiko Nishihara, Rica Matsumoto, Yumiko Shibata, Yuri Amano
Genre: Comedy, Animated, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Tokyo, 2045: the city is abuzz about Moldiver, a mysterious unstoppable superhero fighting crime and posing up a storm. Pretty teenager Mirai Ozora (voiced by Yukana Nogami) discovers Moldiver is none other than older brother Hiroshi (Toshiyuki Morikawa), nerdy inventor of a high-tech super-suit. Equally ingenious and resourceful, Mirai hacks Hiroshi’s system to create her own sexy cheerleader-style super-suit able to fly, wield superhuman strength and render her pretty much invulnerable. As the self-styled Moldiver II, Mirai inadvertently lands in the right place time and again to foil the madcap schemes of Professor Machinegal and his army of android babes. Neither Mirai nor Hiroshi has any clue their arch-nemesis is really Hiroshi’s mentor and the city’s benevolent scientist-cum-architect-at-large, Professor Amagi (Jouji Yanami). Then there is their happy-go-lucky kid brother Nozomu (Rica Matsumoto) who seems smarter than both of them and harbours his own secret agenda.

Long before My Hero Academia became a worldwide phenomenon the fan favourite Moldiver delivered a distinctly anime take on superheroes: bright, colourful and fun. Among a slew of anime well-funded studio Pioneer produced throughout the early-to-mid-Nineties, the six-part serial showcases intricate world-building (the painstaking attention to technical detail goes beyond what is expected of such a frothy affair and proves part of its appeal), engaging characters and well-animated, breakneck superhero action. What it lacks in substance Moldiver makes up for with ingenuity and charm. Kei Wakakusa's appealing sci-fi lounge score is also an asset with its hilarious take on John Williams' Superman theme whenever Mirai springs into action. Plus a J-pop theme song that is infernally catchy ("We have perfect physiques, we’re cunning and sleek! Go, Moldiver, go go!").

The script, credited to director and character designer Hiroyuki Kitamura with input from co-writers Ryoei Tsukimura and Manabu Nakamura, is a perfect example of fast-paced, rock-solid storytelling that puts many of today’s long-winded superhero sagas to shame. It also boasts a pleasingly quirky sense of humour. The first episode has a technical mishap gender-swap the superhero siblings' alter-egos while an ongoing gag has ostensible lead Hiroshi always just that little bit too late before kid sister Mirai springs into action. One of the funniest jokes has semi-sympathetic villain Prof. Machinegal forever fretting about property damage since his daytime alter-ego Amagi has to foot the reconstruction bill after every super battle.

Typically for the period, Moldiver has a Carry On-like saucy streak: milking a lot of gags out of shapely Mirai's unfortunate tendency to wind up buck naked whenever the time limit runs out on her super-suit. Yet Kitazume counterbalances all the lingering cheesecake shots by crafting a smart, intuitive and resourceful heroine whose bickering relationship with Hiroshi is fundamentally loving and supportive. A romantic subplot with Mirai constantly vying with gal pal/love rival Mao Shirase (Akiko Hiramatsu) for the affections of hunky astronaut Karu turns out to have a deeper connection to the main story than viewers initially suspect. It leads to an unashamedly girly, but disarmingly lyrical and affecting climax juxtaposed with a standout outer space action sequence where Mirai fights two enemies atop a runaway space shuttle. Then takes on a satellite weapon. Despite strangely glossing over a key character's willingness to murder innocent people, including his own family, the plot’s central mystery is intriguingly ambiguous as neither Mirai nor Hiroshi cotton on to the budding sociopath in their midst. Not your average superhero spoof.


Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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