Next to the great Osamu Tezuka, the most influential manga auteur is Go Nagai. Nagai pioneered the super-robot, tentacle horror and high school sex comedy genres that became staples of the anime industry. This hyper-hallucinatory OAV series comes across like a wild fusion of all three. In the far-flung future year of 2002, the ability to warp dimensions has birthed new civilisations and new criminals to plague them. The Dimensional Police Force turn to space princess Fandora (voiced by Mitsuko Horie) and her simian-faced, shapeshifting partner Quest (much beloved voice actor Akira Kamiya), first seen locked in an interstellar dogfight with a crooked rogue. He crash lands on a desert planet and retaliates with a giant battle-robot, so Fandora invokes her magic “Jewel of Lupia” and slices him to bits.
In search of notorious criminal Red-Eye Geran, Fandora and Quest reach the kingdom of Lemia, where the all-male populace go crazy for the sexy magical princess. After Quest transforms into a giant cat and scare them away, they discover that maniacal Pope Gilsberg slew their king and enslaved all women, including rightful ruler Princess Lemia (Keiko Toda). However, the pope is really an otherworldly monster called Yog Sothoth and between craven orgies at his grand cathedral, plots to unite Fandora’s red jewel with his own magical blue gem and become the new god.
This was one of the earliest OAVs, anime created specifically for the home video market that became a hugely profitable side-industry. Typically for a Nagai production, this crams more madcap action, sci-fi gadgetry, psychedelic super-powers, monsters and sexy stuff into forty-five minutes than most movies manage in a two hour running time. Also included are numerous nods to H.P. Lovecraft, whose vast universe of unimaginable horrors influenced many anime. Whereas in Lovecraft’s prose mankind can only cower in fear from the alien gods, in anime there is no monster that can’t be vanquished by an all-powerful teen sexpot in a miniskirt.
Skimpy outfits and panty shots cater to the otaku crowd, but Nagai often counteracts the Carry On style, lewd humour in his work with strong female leads. They fight, take charge of their own sexuality and always call the shots. Here, the plot hinges on Lemia recovering her true sense of self, and Fandora emerges as a smart, vivacious action heroine. A major wrestling fan Nagai stages her showdown with giant spider Red-Eye Geran in a ring surrounded by baying spectators. Coming from the golden age of anime, the pastel-hued visuals are remarkably evocative from Fandora’s utopian metropolis, the fairytale villages on Lem and Quest’s Disneyesque transformations into bugs and animals. Finally turning into “the Fantastic Dragon”, Quest joins Fandora for a mind-blowing cosmic battle against Yog Sothoth in its true form: a giant, blue wolf with a horn on its head. Lookout for the post-credits kicker that takes its cue from Flash Gordon (1980).