Throwback Thursday: Space Runaway Ideon(Densetsu Kyojin Ideon) Review & Characters


space runaway ideon wallpaper

The Power of a Space God

  • Episodes : 39
  • Genre : Drama, Mecha, Sci-Fi
  • Airing Date : May 8, 1980 - Jan 30, 1981
  • Producers : Sunrise

Space Runaway Ideon Preview / Plot (No Spoilers)

By Tomino Yoshiyuki, most famous for creating the Gundam franchise, he makes another space opera mech in the form of Space Runaway Ideon. In the distant future, mankind has managed to travel the deep parts of space as far as where the Andromeda constellation is. During an archaeological dig on a planet in that galaxy, a team finds 3 trucks and a space ship. And due to various circumstances, the Buff Clan, another alien human like life form, start an armed conflict with them.

To combat this threat, teenage members of the group take the trucks and together form a giant robot known as Ideon, which is viewed as something like a god to the Buff Clan. And from here on out, war between Earth and the Buff Clan will wage across the galaxy with Ideon there to save Earth.

What is Space Runaway Ideon Like? This Anime is for people like what?

This is one of Tomino’s projects coming off Mobile Suit Gundam. Though it is also a mech anime that takes place in space in the future, it does have some notable differences. While Gundam was mostly within earth and the space colonies were within the earth sphere and based upon actual physics such as the O’Neill theory colony cylinders, Ideon takes a more mythological approach to its story and is more widely intergalactic. The conflict within the Gundam franchise has mostly been between humans, the war this time is between mankind and an alien (though human like) race.

However, many of Tomino’s dark story telling qualities that he is known for during the 1980s is largely present here. The atmosphere is always intense and you never know what is going to happen. I say people who truly love Tomino and understand him are going to enjoy this series.

In addition, this was also the series that partially inspired Evangelion, so Evangelion fans might want to give this a shot.

What's so appealing about this piece of work.

Try to imagine something like Game of Thrones but in outer space with some mechs. It is told from multiple viewpoints to the point that there is really no central/main character. It not only deals with the conflict between the Solo Crew and the Buff Clan, it deals with a lot of internal conflicts within the group as well. And if you know Tomino (and Martin), there will be plenty of tragedy and death.

And a little before Go-Lion (the series that would be westernized as Voltron) did the whole gimmick where the mech is really a god, Ideon was one of the first to do something along these lines.

Space Runaway Ideon Trailer

Space Runaway Ideon Main Characters List

Cosmo Yuki

Space Runaway Ideon cosmo

Voice Actor :Shioya Yoku

Despite being a teenager, he is the main pilot of the Ideon and a very capable pilot from the get-go. Due to his youth, the effects of war due to take a toll on him but he continues to fight to put an end to the end of the conflict. Due to his brash nature, he will get into arguments with fellow crew members but when the going gets tough, he will always pull through and work for the good of the Solo crew and for his own survival.

Karala Ajiba

Space Runaway Ideon karala

Voice Actor :Karala Ajiba

The daughter of the main commanding officer of the Buff Clan, she is part of the Solo Ship crew from the beginning of the series though initially as a prisoner. Initially, many members of the Solo Crew don’t trust her and want her dead. However, her kind nature slowly wins over the crew and sees the wrong of her people and wishes to stop them.

Jordan Bes

Space Runaway Ideon jodran

Voice Actor :Tanaka Hideyuki

Despite his youth, due to being the highest-ranking officer aboard the Solo Ship, he becomes the de-facto captain. He is normally a by the book kind of officer, but as the series progresses, he exhibits more trust to the Ideon crew comprising of mostly civilians despite some of his conflicts with them from time to time. He is one of the first members to trust Karala and falls in love with her.


Contains Spoilers

Space Runaway Ideon Review

The thing about this series is I don’t feel there is at all any definitive sole main character. Yes, Cosmo is the main pilot but I feel the focus of the other characters is too all over the place and yet balanced to really say who is (just like in Game of Thrones). All the characters within the crew all have some sort of contribution to the story. All characters main or not on both sides of the conflict have an active role and yet the story continues to move in the pace respectable to the length of the series. Even if that character isn’t featured in an episode, the show provides enough impression that the character that may not be featured is still out there doing something productive.

The characters on both sides of the conflict all get their own distinct development both individually and in their relationships with other characters. The series presents not just the conflicts between the Buff Clan and Earth, but the internal conflicts as well, which could accurately reflect what happens in war. Some of it is due to bureaucracy, some of it is due to fatigue, and some of it is also because of a conflict of morals.

The Buff Clan are very interesting villains and they have a samurai culture. It is very interesting to note that they view the people of earth as “aliens” and they rightfully have that view. But I say due to their more extreme approaches, earth tends to slightly have the moral high ground from time to time though the big wigs on the political side of things will do some questionable actions to even their own people.

Comparisons to Gundam will be natural. In context to the space exploration, this series takes it to a deeper level compared to Gundam since it is across the universe as opposed to the surrounding earth sphere. Even though the original Gundam has intense moments, it also had some laughs. Ideon is one of the original series that Tomino went to the extreme 7 years before Zeta Gundam, the series that has a reputation amongst the Gundam fanbase for being dark.

Ideon at the top of my head has no moments of comedy. There is always tension in the air. Elementally in terms to its atmosphere, I say this series shares more in common with another lesson known classic work by Tomino, Aura Battler Dunbine as opposed to Gundam. I won’t get into those details due to spoilers but I am sure people who have seen both this series and Aura Battler Dunbine know what I mean. But I felt that this series was very Shakespearian in comparison to Gundam.

The only way I can describe the character designs in one phrase is “Disco Mania Shake Your Booty!” Of course Cosmo, having the biggest afro in animation even beating Disco Stu from The Simpsons and Black Dynamite is clear indication of that. The uniforms look like disco suits and the Buff Clan’s space suits are not reasonably functional but must have been cool by the standards of the mid 70s to early 80s.

The buff clan has interesting eyes with no iris’ and bright colored pupils. Just like any other anime, characters will have funky hairstyles and it shows early anime is no different in that department than it is today. The higher ranked characters look appropriately authorities with the shape of their chins and noses looking sharp as if they were Europeans nobles.

The Ideon with its gimmick of trucks combining to be mech makes me think it was the prototype combiner in Transformers like Devastator with the constructions or Superion with the aerialbots. The Gundam TV series did something like this with the G-Fighter but it just didn’t feel right. But the Double Zeta Gundam would re-visit this as well as in Victory Gundam.

The idea of it being a God also makes me think it probably could have been an influence on Go-Lion, the anime series, which would later be imported outside of Japan as the first Voltron series. Also, some super sentai series like Zyuranger, in which its footage became the first season of power rangers, the Daizyujin or the Megazord, was also a God. So I do feel in some ways, despite Ideon being just a cult classic amongst Tomino fans, it could have been an inspiration to the mech genre beyond Evangelion.

But the Ideon’s fire power and missiles are all over it’s body to the point it is over kill and launching misses from lets say your arm could be very risky in a realistic sense. But Ideon introduces other unique weaponry later on. A majority of the mechs of the Buff Clan looks like the Big Zam from Gundam. The action is very explosive and missiles are flying all over the place. It is very intense and despite knowing the crew of the Ideon will pull through, there is a feeling of danger to the action.

The series does contain some Gundam alumni such as the late Inoue Yo, the voice of Sayla from Gundam as Cheryl, one of the officers on the ship. She is very up tight and bitchy because she is always exhibits that something is suspicious. Cosmo is played by Shioya Yoku, most famous as the voices of Miyagi from Slam Dunk, Siren Sorrento from Saint Seiya and Zeppeli in the first Jojo saga.

He has that scratchy voice he does as Miyagi but with an appropriate sense of intensity in conjunction of being in a conflict as opposed to being a juvenile delinquent. And I am positive hardcore Gundam fans are going to instantly recognize some of the other voices but what stroke me the most was Shiozawa Kaneto as the narrator. He really knows how to set the mood and just makes things so chilling and scary. I felt this series really couldn’t work without him for some reason.

The music is very well composed and it is more heavily orchestrated. It has some disco beats here and there and it will have a nice ballad from time to time that reflects the emotion and age in a positive way.

1. Gundam References

Space Runaway Ideon amuro

I guess in order to attract the Gundam audiences to his new series, Tomino does throw in a small number of notable Gundam references as fan service. In one episode, you do get a glimpse of Amuro Ray, the main character in the Solo Crew. In another episode in a person’s bedroom, there is a poster of Char Aznable, Amuro’s rival. And in some other episodes, there are some nods to Haro, Amuro’s robot.

2. Kitty Kitten

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Kitty Kitten is somewhere along the lines of being the equivalent to some female Gundam characters such as Matilda, Lalah, and Miharu. She is a girl that Cosmo befriends while visiting a planet and they do have somewhat of a rocky start. After clearing up their misunderstandings, they develop a deep friendship and Cosmo falls in love with her only to be killed when they were getting into the heat of the moment. This was the turning point in Cosmo’s development in becoming a soldier dedicated to his cause of preventing any more deaths of those he cares about.

3. Sesshou-hen and Hatsudou-hen

ideon movie dvd

The series was cut short by 5 episodes so to make a new ending, Tomino made two movies. Sesshou-hen, the first movie was a recap of up to episode 32 while the second movie, Hatsudou-hen provides new content and a completely different ending that solidified Tomino’s infamous “Minna Goroshi” or “Kill ‘Em All” moniker. As for what I can indicate with the TV ending without giving away spoilers, it is very forced and rushed. As for the movies, the ending is totally shocking and goes balls to the walls. This situation was seen as an inspiration of Evangelion Death and Rebirth and End of Evangelion.


Ultimately, this is a quality cult classic to hardcore mech and Tomino fans all around the globe. Despite its high praise and recognition from professional anime critics back during its broadcasting, it only captured a small audience in Japan as well. So if you want something old school, outer space with godly robots, check this out. If you love Evangelion, I give this series a recommendation so fans can understand what paved way for it. If you want to dance to some disco, this series will give you the Saturday Night Fever.

Justin

Writer

Author: Justin "ParaParaJMo" Moriarty

Hello, I am originally from the states and have lived in Japan since 2009. Though I watched Robotech and Voltron as a child, I officially became an anime fan in 1994 through Dragon Ball Z during a trip to the Philippines. In addition to anime, I also love tokusatsu, video games, music, and martial arts. よろしくお願いします

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