11. Mars of Destruction
What is it?: Monsters called “Ancients” are popping up all over Tokyo, and a crack group of teenage fighters must destroy them. Then there’s a shocking twist.
What?!: And when you decapitate people, blood flows out of their necks like steam escaping a pipe.
It turns out it’s man: Yes.
Mars of Destruction is . . . something. Bless the creators for wanting to tell this story with all their heart, but it makes Ed Wood look like Martin Scorsese. There’s so much story woefully crammed into 19 minutes that even early ’90s OVAs are like, “WHOA SHIT, SON, SLOW DOWN.” There’s absolutely no reason to care, and that’s why I care so much. The creators hope beyond hope that the simple existence of this story is enough to get people to buy into it, and doggone it, I can’t shit on such earnestness.
What is it?: Ikuro is a young man who is captured by an evil organization. Because this organization is Evil, they implant a parasite into Ikuro’s brain that transforms him into
one of those Avatar creatures a hulking blue beast when he’s in trouble. He’s freed by a young girl who is also a psychic, and the two go on the run together.
What?!: Also anything and everything explodes. Especially dogs. If you are a dog, BAOH despises you with every fiber of its being.
BAOH: HE HAS A LASER CANNON
BAOH comes from the mind of Hirohiko Araki, most famous for JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, so right away you know it is going to be crazy. It does not disappoint. From one of the most inexplicable assassination attempts I’ve seen in any medium to cruel experiments on cute, furry pets to a battle between hulking beasts in an underground cave (WITH A LASER CANNON), this OVA has it all. Full points for having a suitably terrible English dub to go along with this nonsense. How else would we know that Baoh is toting a laser cannon? I cannot think of any other way we would receive this vital information.
13. The Laws of Eternity
What is it?: A bland goof, his bland love interest and two other bland goofs invent a spirit phone based on work by Thomas Edison (that he probably stole from Nikola Tesla). Somehow this works, and they are whisked away on a three-day, two-night stay in the luxurious world of Heaven, where they receive a wonderful tour courtesy of a flying Native American spirit. Unfortunately, this is just not good enough for the less important bland goofs, and they are sent to Hell, from where they must be rescued.
What?!: Guess whom they fight in Hell? If you said the Devil, you’re wrong. It’s Nietzsche and Hitler!
The greatest battle in history: Angelic mecha vs. Hellephant commanded by Hitler.
The Laws of Eternity is the most Happy Sciencey of the Happy Science movies I have seen (the others are to come shortly). It has the requisite beyond strange set-up, loads of dull talking, and then out of nowhere it smacks the viewer with some insane scenario that likely came about because the creators were bored. Nobody could ever be drawn to the loving embrace of Happy Science via the ham-handed, clumsily moralistic writing their movies consistently employ. On the other hand, seeing Hitler stomp around angrily because an angel mecha beat the shit out of his Hellephant has made me want to join a cult more than ever before. Maybe these cultists are on to something.
14. California Crisis
What is it?: A dumb slacker and his dumb slacker girlfriend come across a magic alien MacGuffin and lead the government and military in a chase through California. Along the way they stop at a bar for a truly inexplicable scene. Oh, and the ending takes a self-aware shit on everything that happens.
What?!: And everything looks like Roy Lichtenstein drew it!
Giving the finger to copyright: Yeah, eat that shit, Chrysler! California Crisis ain’t afraid of you!
California Crisis is fucking dumb as hell, knows it and revels in it. The whole thing is a vapid production, but it’s vapid in a way that’s fun and works. And I also love that the creators know that nobody is going to give a shit about its stupid lead characters, so it provides an ending that essentially says, “Well, we had fun making this, but it’s DRINKING TIME!!!!!” Best anticlimax ever.
15. Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned
What is it?: Dracula cockblocks Satan by stealing a sacrifice during a ceremony meant to appease the dark lord. Then Dracula has a kid who turns into Aquaman and must kill Dracula. With his High Beams of the Lord.
What?!: Also, fat Stan Lee is a wheelchair-riding vampire hunter.
Where do vampires go when they want to have fun?: The local disco.
Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned is a Toei-Marvel joint that haphazardly adapts a comic series into a movie. In it, Dracula is a bumbling fool who cannot catch a break; he just wants to settle down with his new human wife and bang out a few babies, that’s all. Then God’s gotta be like, “Hey, Son of Dracula, kill that motherfucker, you hear?” Poor Dracula. So undead. So moe.
16. Rebirth of Buddha
What is it?: Some douchebag who may or may not have something to do with Scientology uses his psychic powers to craft a cult. A teenage girl who wants to be a journalist investigates, and she comes across the Buddha (who is a white guy), and his followers, who aim to use their psychic powers to stop evil once and for all.
What?!: The Buddha has an elephant, and he rides the elephant while standing up.
Happy Science: Yes, masters. Whatever you say, masters.
Rebirth of Buddha is a boring movie for the most part. There’s a lot of dull talking, and the overall plot is a snoozer. But what thrusts it so high up on my list is the sheer craziness it throws out in such a matter-of-fact way and without a single trace of irony. As the Happy Science folks produced this, I imagine them tenting their fingers and counting in their minds the massive amount of followers who would be converted to their cause as a result of this movie.
What is it?: A chemical weapon makes its way through the small town; this chemical reanimates corpses and causes them to rampage, devouring all in their way. Two teens get caught up in the horror and try to stop it.
What?!: The reanimated corpses — one of which is a shark — also have mechanical legs they use to get around everywhere. And they expel disgusting gas to move.
Circus: There’s a fucked up circus for basically no reason other than to be extremely fucked up.
Gyo was a divisive OVA when it was released. Well, that’s probably being a bit kind. Most people disliked it; then, of course, there were the correct people like myself who enjoyed it. Admittedly, the plot is fucking dumb as shit, and the fart-powered creatures are more weird than scary. But whatever, I enjoy a strong infusion of weirdness every so often, and Gyo definitely scratches that particular itch. It’s entirely worth it for that bizarre circus sequence. I still don’t know what in the living fuck is up with that, but I know I enjoyed it.
18. Battle Royal High School
What is it?: Riki Hyoudo is a high-schooler who likes to fight. But Riki is also the doppelganger of Byoudo, the Master of the Dark Realm, and Riki is possessed by Byoudo, who is tricked by an evil faerie queen into conquering the world. Oh, and faeries have a habit of possessing people and turning them into disgusting, horrible demons.
What?!: This world is populated by demon hunters, space police, gangs, and tsunderes.
Tiger Mask: I’m convinced Riki is one of Japan’s famous Tiger Mask wrestlers.
Oh, Ichiro Itano. You often find yourself directing the craziest shit. And Battle Royal High School is pretty fuckin’ crazy. It makes zero sense, but it’s very entertaining for all the nonsense it chucks at the viewer in the space of an hour. I also approve of it for adding another reference to my argument that faeries are pure evil. Anything that turns people into tentacle monsters can’t be good, right? And again, the English dub is quite entertaining, but more for the fact that it tosses in a ton of stock sounds throughout. I even heard the lightsaber noise from Star Wars!
19. Butt Attack Punisher Girl Gautaman
What is it?: A devout Christian girl, Mari, enters a school that is devoted to all the world’s religions to cultivate future religious leaders. Unfortunately, all is not roses in this school, because a cult, the Black Buddha, rules the school by force. Mari prays to God for help, but Buddha answers her call instead and transforms her into Butt Attack Punisher Girl Gautaman, granting her the power to fight her enemies.
What?!: One of said enemies is a giant person dressed like sumo wrestler wearing a Darth Vader mask.
Evil schools: Late ’80s/early ’90s OVAs sure had a LOT of them. For good reason. School is evil.
Gautaman has a similar charm to Kekko Kamen, which is coming up later on this list. It’s dumb beyond belief and should probably be offensive in some way, shape or form, but it’s so goofy that you’d have to be a big grump to really hate it. There are definitely parts that made me hate myself for watching it (particularly the various and sundry uses for octopi throughout the OVAs), but the incredibly silly love triangle that involves Mari, her best friend and one of the main villains almost makes up for it. It’s kind of dumb and sweet, even if it turns the OVAs WAY too serious at the end.
20. Yu-Gi-Oh!: Pyramid of Light
What is it?: Young Yugi Mutou wields the Millennium Puzzle, an ancient artifact that links him with the spirit of an Egyptian Pharaoh who gives Yugi the ability to cheat and win at children’s card games. The Egyptian god Anubis, who was once defeated by the pharaoh, has concocted a plan over millennia to exact revenge on the pharaoh by defeating him in a children’s card game. Seto Kaiba is Yugi’s rival and concocts a plan using millions of dollars in technology to simulate a scenario that will ensure him victory in a children’s card game.
What?!: Kaiba also spends millions of dollars on a jet in the shape of the monster in his signature card, the Blue Eyes White Dragon. Hair metal plays while he flies this jet. It is as awesome as it sounds.
4Kids: I wish I were part of the writing crew for this movie. It would be the most amazing job.
I remembered this movie being horrifically boring when I watched it before. I don’t know what I was thinking. There are most definitely boring parts — everything within the Escherscape of the Millennium Puzzle comes to mind immediately. But I feel like the writers are having fun with how seriously the card game is taken in this universe. There’s so much awful wordplay, so many dopey references and so much grandiose plotting and theatrics that I find it impossible to believe the writers weren’t at least somewhat self-aware. Literally nobody over the age of 10 could see Kaiba’s Blue Eyes White Dragon jet and not burst out laughing. This movie is everything great and hilarious about the 4Kids version of the Yu-Gi-Oh anime in a palatable 90-minute space.