For me, bringing out a new or improved version of a Tezuka Osamu anime is always a thrill. Accordingly, M74 and Orphan are proud to present a new version of Ginga Tansa 2100-nen: Border Planet (Galaxy Investigation 2100: Border Planet), his 1986 movie-length TV special.
Ginga Tansa has been available in English translation for some time, using VHS-based raws and reasonable English subtitles. This version uses an R2J DVD source, purchased and encoded by M74, and a revised translation, thoroughly checked by skypilot. M74 timed, M74 and I edited, I typeset, and Redac, M74, and I all did QC. The result is a version with better video and improved subtitles.Ginga Tansa is structured as an anthology of related shorter stories, a bit like Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. The touching prologue wordlessly shows how the childhood friendship of two boys, Prokion and Subaru, and a girl, Mira, slowly morphs into a love triangle. Prokion eventually wins Mira's hand, leaving Subaru heart-broken. However, Prokion's and Mira's love idyll is interrupted when he succumbs to a deadly space virus. Mira must be placed in suspended animation to prevent her from dying as well. Subaru, still very much in love with Mira, vows to search all of space for the source of the deadly virus, so that Mira can be treated and cured. This leads to the story proper.
The first short story is a classic haunted house story, in which the crew members of Subaru's spaceship are picked off one after another by some unknown force. The second story takes place on a ruined mining planet, where the inhabitants are desperate to depart but seem unable to do so. The third story is a vampire analogy, with depraved inhabitants preying on their own kind in a quest for immortality. In between each act are wordless interludes of Subaru visiting Mira as she sleeps inside a glass case: the Prince visiting Snow White or Sleeping Beauty.
In the end, Subaru's quest is successful, although how and where he finds the source of the virus is never shown. However, his success comes at a price, and the ending is not quite unalloyed joy. It's a fitting conclusion to a show that emphasizes Tezuka Osamu's classic themes: the power of love, the possibility of horror amid beauty and vice versa, and the indomitability of the human spirit.
The movie is filled with great touches. The wordless interludes of Subaru gazing at Mira in her suspended state are very poignant. The second story opens with a homage to various scenes from Star Wars, including the "creature cantina" and Jabba the Hutt's sinuous, snake-like dancing girl; the background art includes a classic "RKO Radio Picture" poster from the 1940s. Various familiar characters from Tezuka Osamu's films and manga show up in bits parts, including Shunsaku Ban from The Green Cat and Metropolis and Astro Boy himself.
Tomiyama Kei, who played Subaru, had a very successful career in the last century, but his premature death more than twenty years ago means he is not well known to modern audiences. Katsuko Masako, who plays the maiden-in-distress Mira, has had a prolific career, but she is best known to me for her portrait of another female ingénue, Maroko from Gosenzo-sama Banbanzai. The musical score, by Haneda Kentarou, makes effective use of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23, second movement (Andante), for its contemplative moments.
Without further ado, Ginga Tansa 2100-nen: Border Planet.