Hidden by a desert storm, a psychic boy lives in the Tower of Babel. His name is Babel II.
Posted On May 16, 2009
The other day a most peculiar thing happened. When looking at my torrent RSS feeds, I noticed two subtitled episodes of Babel II–a series from 1973 animated by Toei Douga, and adapted from a manga by Yokoyama Mitsuteru. Ever since watching Giant Robo a few years back, I’ve developed a little bit of an interest in Yokoyama’s work. However, nearly none of it is available in English. In addition to that, at some point along the line I stumbled upon the Babel II opening, which totally and completely won me over due to just how boldly it sells the show. After two episodes, is this show as good as the opening?
No, not really.
But the first episode is pretty good! So good that I feel like doing a shitty anime blogger summary of it, so I am!
After the 90 seconds of pure destruction and violence that is the opening, we–the viewers at home back in 1973, watching with our parents–are treated to some good ol’ fashion slave labour. The cries and moans of dying men flow out of the one speaker on your newly bought colour TV, on which images of said men being whipped mercilessly are displayed in their full, bloody glory. These men are making the great tower of Babel in attempt to reach God. However, as the legend goes, the tower gets eradicated by God’s divine power, as punishment for the puny, foolish humans. Everyone dies.
Flash forward 5000 years.
We are now in modern day Japan. A young girl whose name escapes me at the moment is unable to sleep, so to kill some time she contemplates stealing from her father’s liquor cabinet. On her way to commit this dastardly deed, she happens to hear her male cousin–the soon-to-be Babel II–moaning like he’s jerking it, while he’s in fact having a psychic premonition dream about being sent to the GREAT TOWER OF BABEL. To make a long story short, Babel II leaves his folks on a pterodactyl, gets sent to the tower of Babel, and finds out that the established legend is all a lie. What really happened was Babel–A SPACE ALIEN–crash landed on earth and needed to make a beacon to catch the attention of potential rescuers from home. Thusly, he coerced the the locals into making the Tower of Babel, but they fucked with his futuristic machines so the whole thing blew up. In the end Babel decided to live on Earth, but he created a machine that would track his future generations to eventually find a proper heir to his scientific wonders. That heir is Babel II.
There’s a bunch of other stuff that’s too boring to explain, so I’m just going to end this by saying in the tail end of the episode Babel II is sent to fight The Bad Guy for no reason at all and ends up killing a dude with his mind by blowing up his heart or something. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened since why else would some guy just start bleeding randomly like that?
While the first episode is entertaining for its dated directorial style and amateurish plotting, the second episode is mostly dull–it starts out alright with Babel destroying more guys with his super powers, but most of the episode is spent on a giant rock deity chasing Babel II around. About the only good part of this whole thing is the animation when the rock deity assembles and reassembles himself– the same frames are used over and over again, but it’s amazingly fluid and nice looking.
What I really do like about this show is just how old school the direction is. There is no attempt to cover up how nuts this story is–it plays it straight. The background music is composed mostly of urgent sounding horns, and random characters, such as taxi drivers will dispense paragraphs upon paragraphs of exposition at the drop of a pin. And then get carried away by a pterodactyl. The animation is simplistic, but well rendered. The same can be said about the backgrounds as well. Yomi’s (the main villain, by the way) base is rendered in great detail, but is still as flat-looking as a Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei background. Things like that make me like this show.
Even though episode two is rather dull, if this guy decides to sub anymore, I’ll most certainly be watching, especially because it seems that Cervantes the Illusionist appears in episode three. I’m not really going to judge this show in anyway, but if you’re a nerd like me and enjoy watching old anime for educational purposes, give Babel II a shot. Maybe you’ll start to get some of those references in Giant Robo or something.