From the late 1980's through the mid 1990's, the NewType magazine fan poll for the best OVA was dominated by a series that made a name for Hideako Anno (who later went on to create 'Nadia: The Secret of the Blue Water', and his most famous work 'Neon Genesis Evangelion') and the newly created GAINAX Studios. And for the longest time, the series known as the greatest OVA to come out of the 'Golden Age' of Anime (mid 1970's to late 1980's) was considered a missing gem for the US market, one of the greatest works of Japanese Anime never to be distributed in the Region 1 market, that is, until Feb 2007, when the newly created Bandai Visual USA division released the DVD...
The story is about a Noriko Takaya, a young orphan high school girl, training at a mecha institute. The earth is in the midst of an arms buildup, after the recent disastrous first contact with a race of giant spaceship sized space monsters. Her school performance is below average, and since she is the only daughter of the fleet admiral who died during first contact with the creatures, all the other students assume that she's riding on the coat tails of her father.
Norko's life is suddenly changed when a new trainer is transfered to her school, and selects her, along with the best of the class, Kazumi Amano (who Noriko refers to as 'Ohnee-sama') for advance training to join the elite 'top' mecha squadron, and receives intense training in 'hard work and guts' needed to get the job done...
Sounds and Visuals
Being made in the late 1980's, Gunbuster shows the limited frame rates and color palette that is typical for works coming from the 'Golden Age' of Anime. In addition, being produced by a small and new Anime Studio, production values are also limited. Music tends toward rock music and is nothing exceptional.
Don't be put off by the English byline of 'hard work and guts'. The story of Gunbuster is one of strong character growth and development. The story is not only about fighting and overcoming a horde of giant space monsters, the real story of 'hard work and guts' is about struggling to overcome the characters own fears and limitations. The story is easily the match for any story from the 'Golden Age', and easily earns the title as the best Anime OVA series from the late 1980's, and is still considered one of Hideako Anno greatest works of Anime.
The US DVD release also includes the short video extras, and the Episode Science lessons, where the 3 main characters (in super deformed mode) explain the 'Science' concepts that are the background to the OVA series.
Official Website: Gunbuster