Overlooked and Underrated: Dallos

OVAs are awesome. Generally higher budget and less rushed than TV series, and not limited so much by censorship either – what’s not to like about that? 😛 There have been many times in the past when I’ve gone on binges, watching nothing but oneshots and short OVA series for days.

I soon noticed that the vast majority of those I’d watched were made in the late 80s – early 90s… which got me wondering, what was the first anime OVA to be made? After some research, I found out it was Dallos.

Plot summary:  The Earth has used up its resources, and now looks to the Moon to meet its needs. After several years of development and mining there, Earth is once again prosperous, but things aren’t so great on the lunar surface itself. It has a population of about half a million, and most of the able bodied men work hard as miners for little reward, other than the knowledge that they’re helping their home planet (which only a few of the older folk have even set foot on). In addition, everyone wears an identification tag on their heads so that the strict and controlling government can keep an eye on them.

Inevitably, the lunar workers revolt, fighting with mining equipment, makeshift bombs and whatever else they can steal or salvage. Needless to say they go on strike too (as miners do best), so Earth is starved of much needed resources. They are even able to kidnap the fiance of the Moon’s Commander after a successful ambush of his ship. They are looking for independence from Earth, as they feel they owe it nothing. But even with all this, the Commander refuses to negotiate with them, sending in the police and later the military to deal with the situation instead. Leading to some epic space fights and action scenes!

The series’ main character is a young boy named Nonomura Shun, who for the most part is surprisingly neutral. While he does get dragged into co-operating with the rebels (he is arrested as his brother was a famous rebel, leading the government to believe he may have useful information, but he is later rescued by the rebels), he soon falls for the hostage (Melinda, the Commander’s fiance), and doesn’t agree with a lot of their methods and ideals.

The other big plot point is ‘Dallos’ itself, which is a strange alien artifact that lies in one of the Moon’s craters. The workers worship it like a god, believing it will protect them, but all this only makes it a prime target for a counter attack by the lunar government. Will they regret angering this ‘god’? That is a difficult question to answer for two reasons: the first is spoilers, but the second is that a lot of the things surrounding Dallos are never explained at all. Sadly, this isn’t the only weakness in the plot; but the majority of the focus is on the Earth vs Moon conflicts, and I thought those were handled spectacularly, so I could overlook most of the weaknesses.

What makes it worth watching? I’d say the first OVA counts as an important part of anime history, right? That’s the only reason I found out about it, anyhow. But if you’re not the kind of person who takes such things into account when deciding what to watch, Dallos does have other merits.

It was a pleasure to watch simply for the epic animation, which was very fluid when you consider its age and that there was no CGI involved – it certainly set the bar for all the OVAs that followed. TV anime I’ve watched from around about the same time (1983-84) simply don’t compare. Great music too – and I know I always say that, but it goes double for Dallos.

Possible reasons for it’s obscurity: Apparently it was edited into a single movie for release in the west, and given an atrocious dub on top of that, which may explain its reputation as a bit of a joke. But I make every effort to watch things in their original form where possible, and the unedited four episode OVA version is out there… with better than average HK subs.

Overall thoughts:  Dallos is NOT perfect. But it IS an important part of anime history, it IS very pretty, AND IT DOES NOT DESERVE TO BE RATED LOWER THAN PIANO.

Anime-Planet average rating: 1.9/5

My personal rating: 4/5

3 Responses to Overlooked and Underrated: Dallos

  1. redmaigo says:

    It almost sounds like an anime version of Robert Heinlein’s “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” which is a story about another lunar revolt.

    Unless the Moon folk are chunking meteors at the earth…

    I’ve also been watching old 80’s/90’s OVA’s (OAV’s…whatever) for the past year and a half. You run the gamut from pretty good to downright bad. Some stand outs include Arion, Dragon’s Heaven, Area 88 (the original not the reboots/remakes), Leda – The Fantastic Adventure of Yohko, Windaria, Nineteen 19.

    I’m not going to mention the bad ones.

    I’ll add Dallos to my viewer queue of oldies. I’ll watch them when I have another lost weekend of marathoning shows.

    Thanks for the tip!

    • Haha, I’m not actually familiar with any of the OVAs you’ve listed besides Windaria, which I agree is fantastic. I’ll look into the rest, though! I agree that there’s a lot of awful ones out there too, but at least they’re short!

      • redmaigo says:

        That’s the beautiful thing about OVA’s: they are quick and easy to watch and enjoy. You don’t have the long term commitment that comes with an entire series.

        Most of the ones I mentioned are from the early 80’s (pre-1987) which are good but now forgotten — like Dallos.

        If you liked Windaria try looking for Greed or Cool Cool Bye. The first one is dark and the other is more light hearted.

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