SPACE FIREBIRD (1980)
aka Space Firebird 2772, Hi no tori 2772: Ai no kosumozon
Article 5094 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Taku Sugiyama
Featuring the voices of Chris Hilton and Ted Thomas
What it is: Cosmic anime
In a Dystopian future of the planet earth, a space pilot is the only hope for the dying planet when he embarks on a quest to find a monstrous firebird that is the only thing that can save the planet.
I don’t know if it’s because most of my sources tend to neglect anime or if it’s because the form didn’t really take off until a later period of time, but I do know that it’s still a pretty rare occasion when I cover it. This one has a bit more in the way of Western cultural influences according to IMDB; it was apparently inspired by the work of Igor Stravinsky (I’m guessing the Firebird Suite was a big part of it), some Disney animated works (PINOCCHIO is perhaps the most obvious), and it uses certain Western styles of animation (this is one of the rare examples of anime that uses rotoscoping). Still, it is very much a work of anime, and I have to confess that I’m still not quite used to the form; I find myself more apt to enjoy them on an intellectual level but I never quite get lost in them, and the emotional elements remain distant. The version I saw was dubbed into English, and that always makes things seem a little cheesier than they would otherwise be. Still, I generally like this one, and some of the scenes are positively surreal; in particular, a scene on a strange planet with bizarre wildlife is memorable. And it’s always amusing to see movies in which creatures are modeled off of such unlikely items as dice and bagpipes.