We hope you are enjoying your stay in MEGAZONE (Part 2)

Megazone 23 PART II is quite an uneven piece of work. The animation is mostly incredible, but at times isn’t entirely convincing. The story has good elements, but is told in a convoluted manner. The characters are all great, but are still fairly one-dimensional. All this doesn’t keep it from being one hell of a ride, though.

The first thing that strikes you about PART II is how it looks– it has a completely different design sense than the first one. The cute, big-eyed designs from the first part are traded in for more intense and realistic looking characters penned by Yasuomi “Kite” Umetsu. And it’s not just the designs that had a re-work– the entire piece has a darker colour palette, more complex shadow effects, and five more tones than Part I. In fact, if you didn’t know any better, it’d take you a bit to figure out that this was a Megazone sequel. I mean, these reworked characters barely look at all like their Part I counterparts!

Part II also one-ups Part I when it comes to characterization. Part I had some pretty decent characters, but in the end I found them to be somewhat bland. While mostly one-dimensional, all of the lovable punks in Part II burst with personality through their designs and snappy one-liners. You’re not going to get super attached to these bozos or anything, but they’re depicted as a likable bunch, and all get their moments to shine.

Where Part II falls short is in the story department, however. As I mentioned earlier, the plot for Part I was pretty weak, so the fact that Part II’s plot is worse is… not very good. Well, it’s not so much the plot that’s bad, as much as it’s the execution. This OVA was, for some reason, directed by Ichiro Itano– a man known for his complex missile firing patterns and… lack of any sort of directorial ability. The piece starts off well enough, but once all the plot seeds begin to blossom at around the half-way mark, you can slowly see Itano losing his handle over the project. The whole thing ends with a bunch of explosions matched to cryptic dialogue, and not in the good End of Evangelion way. But really, in the end you don’t care about the plot, since the show has a lot of chases and action scenes thrown in to distract you.

The production values are also a good distraction from the convoluted excuse for a plot. For the most part, this thing looks beautiful. The characters are all super detailed, the animation is at times frighteningly fluid, and the piece on the whole is dark and beautiful. There are odd cuts here and there where the characters seem too weightless, and there are also a number of cuts which lack shading, but they aren’t terribly jarring. One place where the production really shines is in the action sequences, which are always well choreographed, exciting and sometimes extremely gory.

Megazone 23 Part II is, in the end, 90 minutes of wasted potential. For all that it could be, it falls prey to poor directing and tired anime cliches. Perhaps it could be better in the hands of a more skillful director, but what we get is only really good for the action.