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Japan, 1980 (MIFF 1995, Buried Treasures – Osamu Tezuka)

Director: Sugiyama Taku

Space Firebird 2772 is loosely based on certain futuristic aspects of Tezuka's sprawling Hi No Tori (Phoenix) series of manga, regarded by many as his most outstanding work. Firebird. is a simi­larly long saga which may appear confused and patchy (some say the result of Tezuka trying too hard to 'internationalize' the production), but is nonetheless a valuable anime in terms of how skillfully Tezuka infused Buddist, Shinto and Zen concepts with standard science fiction ponder­ing Firebird, also serves as a potent dose of a non-Western view on life and the cosmos The opening sequence set solely to 'beautiful' orchestral music shows the creation and birthing of a test tube human male—Godoh—within a bizarrely clinical space station. There he is attended by a sexy mother robot, Olga, who also can change herself into an amazing array of sexy machines and appliances at the service of the developing child. Godoh grows up in this envi­ronment until he is a late teenager, after which he goes out into the world for a series of adven­tures. Only a Japanese animation could depict such a child-rearing environment in such a sexu­ally-coded yet Utopian way. Godoh-not unlike Tetsuwan Atom-is ultimately an individual unit who has to develop his social interaction skills by instinct rather than programmed design. This 'loner' figure appears in a lot of Tezuka's work, and usually is conveyed less through heroic actions and more through personal maturation As such, Godoh reflects not only ways in which the individual functions in the seemingly-con­trolled Japanese social world, but also the indi­vidualistic stance Tezuka himself has taken as a manati and anime artist

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