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Five Bizarre Anime Production Stories

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4. Go Nagai's "Creative Energy" Preservation
Most people are familiar with Go Nagai's fairly tame giant robot series Mazinger Z, followed by the savage and insane Getter Robo,

3. The Guns Are Now Bananas
I mention Tetsujin 28 a lot on this site, but there's something about the first episode of the 2004 series that nobody really gets. Around the middle of that episode, boy detective Shotaro Kaneda is walking through the streets when he sees passive-aggressive criminals Tatsu and Ryusaku Murasame shoot a police officer in the arm and run off. Leaving the man to presumably die of a loss of blood, Shotaro chooses to chase the brothers through the streets, until seeing they've climbed through a manhole and somehow determines they'll end up at the foot of Tokyo Tower.
Upon meeing up with them, Shotaro proceeds to jab something into Ryu's back, and Ryu and Tatsu assume it's a gun. Only when Kenji appears to knock the "gun" out of Shotaro's hands do they realize it's just a banana.
Why isn't "A BANANAAAAA?!" a meme yet?
The question aside of how long it took Shotaro to go buy a banana during a riot, it turns out that this all stems from a big change the crew had to make with Mitsuteru Yokoyama's original story. In the 1956 manga, Shotaro can be seen driving a car and wielding a gun. Since Tetsujin 28 is actually a children's show in Japan, Hikari Productions was warned against showing a ten year old boy with a gun. The only logical course of action is to make everyone think he's got a gun for several seconds, then have it turn out to be fruit.
"Man, if I weren't gonna die in thirty minutes, I'd be totally laughing."
And all the while in this children's show, Ryu and Tatsu are dead by the end of the second episode, characters weep over the tragedies of World War II, the lead villain dies by being stepped on by Tetsujin, one villain hallucinates that blood is flowing out of his hands, and there's a disturbing suggested relationship between Shotaro and Kenji that only NAMBLA would approve of. Of course it's a children's show under Japanese standards, but giving Shotaro a gun was bad, while putting him through all sorts of other shit was okay.
This is what I mean by "other shit".
So, you really stuck it to the man there, Hikari Productions. Now I have to pause the video anytime I show someone the first episode and explain to them what you were doing.
2. Yashigani
This was most of the opening theme.
Back in 1998, the original creator of Slayers started working on something called Lost Universe, focusing on a young man with an interstellar spacecraft being under constant barrage from a criminal syndicate. There had been at least thirty different shows about a dude in space with his own ship and a wacky crew, so Lost Universe didn't really have much that was individual about it.
Well, that could be said until there was a studio fire. They lost all the sketches and cels they had finished or in-progress for the first few episodes. The only course of action was to redo them as quickly as possible, not seriously considering quality.
Pictured: Lost Universe episode one
Even early incarnations of the intro have missing chunmks of footage, with only chibi pictures of the characters standing with "Under Construction" signs for even as long as fifteen seconds. But the best part was when the fourth episode, "Yashigani Hofuru" (literally "Coconut Crab Massacre), was shipped off to Korean animation studio San Ho Studio, along with basic front models of the characters. The resulting episode was so overwhemingly badly animated that it actually caused a loud public backlash.
It was so bad that it was only televised once in its condition, and a Japanese studio had to reanimate most of it for the laserdisc release. Part of the episode's title would later become Japanese slang... "yashigani" now refers to anything poorly animated. Like, Evangelion's last episode is mostly yashigani. Big chunks of Tetsujin 28 are yashigani.

Here's the original Yashigani episode. The online copy of the episode's final version has since been deleted, but if you have the North American DVD release or a copy of the final version, try syncing them up together and watching them at the same time. There's a fairly big chance you'll have a seizure, but you'll have a seizure for anime history.
But this matter is barely able to surpass the level of insanity displayed by our number one item...
1. Yasuko Aoike's Led Zeppelin Slash Fiction
All right, this isn't an anime, but it certainly deserves a place on this list. Female mangaka Yasuko Aoike is well known for drawing gorgeous yet masculine men, and for being a pretty big fan of English rock music, particularly Led Zeppelin. Now, I want you to look at the two rows of pictures below, and specify how hard you just shat your pants.
In 1978, Aoike started the series From Eroica With Love, which is her most famous work and still being serialized at this time of writing. It's about Dorian Red, a homosexual English earl and master thief known as Eroica, whom travels the world in search of art, treasures and the love of a stoic German NATO officer. However, Aoike based Dorian's design extremely closely on Robert Plant...Jimmy Page was turned into Mr. James, Dorian's doting young accountant, and John Bonham became simply Bonham, Dorian's crafty old assistant.
I'm just going to ruin your life a little further and post this picture of Dorian in drag.
So, to recap, Robert Plant is now a gay art thief, Jimmy Page is a stingy accountant in love with Plant, and John Bonham is an old Cockney badass. And Yasuko Aoike based her characters on these people intentionally. Meaning, she took celebrities, people who had no idea this was going on, and paired them with other men for a globetrotting comedy manga. The fact that Robert Plant gets coupled with Aoike's original character is more than a little concerning.
This isn't to say From Eroica With Love isn't a good series, though. It's certainly enjoyable, but if you're familiar with Led Zeppelin before reading the manga, you'll almost certainly wind up questioning all that is good and holy. On the plus side, Mr. James's character design changes a lot by 1980, making him a short-haired and slightly bug-eyed teen, taking him a little farther away from resemblance with Jimmy Page. But really, if Aoike can get away with this for more than thirty years, I'd might as well make a bunch of characters based on young Bob Dylan, Neil Arthur and Robert Palmer and use them in a story about a gay mafia.
...I should do that. Maybe. Be right back.

All written material here is 2007-2011 Fauna Crawford, along with any images identified as such. All other copyrights belong to their respective owners and creators. Permission is required to use any original material from this site.