• Fafner


    published in Empire No.75, Sydney
    Complete Collection


    Fusing the isolationist fears 70s Japanese monster movies like Gamera with the 90s existential angst of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Fafner is a fascinating hybrid in the ‘sci-fi-cockpit’ subgenre of anime. The key elements are readily recognisable: young Kazuki possesses untapped psycho-neural energies that posit him to masterfully control the giant Fafner robot-suit when the tiny island of Tatsumiyajima is threatened by savage attacks by Festum meta-beings who wield incomprehensible force. Fafner excels at pumping adrenaline action as the island, its inhabitants and Kazuki are thrown into a survivalist struggle. The complete series manages to sustain this drama with admirable skill.

    Yet the undercurrents of Fafner prove equally fascinating. The way that Tatsumiyajima suddenly transforms into a hi-tech geo-front complete with artificial sky and complex hidden armature indicates the undying way in which Japan perceives of itself as a hidden fortress awaiting to be reborn. Frightening yet transfixing, this cultural riptide energises the hidden depths of much anime, of which Fafner is an especially strong example. More telling and similarly absorbing is the way that such catastrophic changes affect the key cast and the local townspeople. While the Americans pathetically cry for the cameras at moments of crisis, the Japanese stoically stare at the sunset.