By creator Leiji Matsumoto, who brought us series such as Space Battleship Yamato, Galaxy Express 999, and Captain Harlock. Planet Robot Danguard Ace (the original title) ran for 56 episodes from March of 1977 to March 1978 and was shown in America as part of the "Force Five," which showed English dubbed versions of five different anime series. It was one of America's first tastes of Anime. In 2009, the William Winkler production company (wit orders from Toei) to begin production on editing the original 56 episode series down to 3 approximately 2 hour long films. Is Danguard Ace worth revisiting?
Taking place in the distant future, the Earth's natural resources are on the verge of being depleted. To fix this problem, The World Space Institute tries to reach the newly found planet, Promete, to explore the new planet in the hopes of colonizing and using its resources to save humanity. Along the way, the scavenging crew suffer a strange malfunction that kills some and strands others. The mission is presumed failed and the people dead.
We find out that the mission was actually sabotaged by a man named Doppler, an exorbitantly wealthy man bent on using Promete for his own purposes, used his mind control power to force the captain of the salvage mission to sabotage his own crew to set himself up to take his own crew to Promete. Once there, he uses this to his advantage to become the "Chancellor" of the new planet, not allowing any of Earth's forces to land on the planet, eventually war is declared between the two planets. Eventually the survivors of the initial accident become Doppler's slaves.
Years have passed and the only hope of the planet seems to lie in the hands of the pilots being trained at an Earth based space station, Jasdam, where construction has commenced on Danguard Ace, an incredible transforming fighting robot. More specifically the fate of the universe lands in the lap of Takuma Ichimonji, a member of the new generation of pilots that are tasked with going to Promete and the pilot destined to use Danguard Ace to take back Promete from Doppler for the Earth forces.
Danguard Ace: The Movie Collection is surprisingly a fun collection through in through. I'm always skeptical about companies releasing chopped episodes in movie form, the travesty known as Blue Gender: The Warrior jumps directly in mind, but Danguard Ace doesn't end up suffering that same problem, it' a fun collection of films that has plenty of action and nice character moments.
While enjoyable, releasing the heavily chopped together episodes only makes me ask "why?" Why do this at all, why not instead just release all original 56 uncut and unedited episodes. This would easily be the preferred choice among fans everywhere.
+ Very good story that is executed properly.
+ For 56 episodes being cut down to 3 films, it's done well.
+ It takes a bit to get going, but once it does, it's great.
+ For 70's animation, the production values look are very high...
- ...but at the same time, the animation itself falls a bit flat. It leave quite a bit to be desired.
- Uninspired dub.
- Why not just release the series instead?
Video and Audio:
The video quality of Danguard Ace: The Movie Collection is surprisingly very good. Presented in 1.78.1 widescreen that is cropped from it's original 1.33 aspect ratio. Due to the cropping, you'll notice some of the animation has been cut off on the tops and bottom, there are a lot of close ups, with the tops of heads (sometimes so much is cropped even the eyes are taken off.) Other than the cropping problem, the video quality is very good. The quality is clean for it's age, and the colors are bold. There are some noticeable banding issues here and there, but nothing too major.
As for Audio, Danguard Ace comes with an Dolby Digital 2.0 English track. The Dialogue is clean and clear. The soundtrack and the action effects never drown out the characters. There were no noticeable audio dropouts or distortions, Overall a very good mix.
- No extras to speak of unless you want to count the reversible DVD cover with a long plot synopsis.
While I believe most would just want the actual series released, for fans of the show I'd say this a must have. A 3 film collection that condenses all 56 episodes of the series and does it properly deserves a place on Danguard Ace fans shelves. For those new to Danguard Ace, if you enjoyed other space operas something like Robotech, then Danguard Ace is for you. Recommended.