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Space Runaway Ideon: Be Invoked – Review

by Miguel Douglas

@isugoi

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Above the Buff Clan homeworld rises their complete fleet of battleships and heavy mobile mechas, dominated by the awesome majesty of their latest and most deadly superweapon. And even with all these forces, Supreme Commander Doba is troubled – he has staked the future of his entire people on this military might. Can the lethal weaponry prepared by the Ome Foundation truly prove sufficient to slay the Giant God of legend, Ideon? Meanwhile, on the Solo Ship, the Earthlings only want a planet they could escape to to avoid the endless attacks of the Buff Clan – a desire they know can never be. They cannot abandon the Ideon for fear of what others may try to do with its power, but they do not control it and its very existence among them only incites further bloodshed from their relentless foe. For the Solo Ship and the Buff Clan, the final conflict is rapidly approaching.

Perhaps more famously known than its predecessor, Space Runaway Ideon: Be Invoked presents the final conclusion to the Space Runaway Ideon universe. While A Contact was seen primarily as a compilation of the television series with additional newly animated footage, Be Invoked effectively concludes the series and previous film with an all-new and unseen climax. While A Contact may have established Space Runaway Ideon as a narrative elaborating upon the dark and vicious cycles of warfare, there were hints towards the conclusion of that film that something larger was evolving around the characters, delving even further to expand on the notion of a proposed metaphysical presence within the Ideon itself. It’s within Be Invoked where the mystical subtleties offered in the first film are expounded on, coupled with the atrocities that plague the existence of the film’s characters. While this pairing may seem odd—even more so during the period of its initial release—it provides the film with a bizarrely satisfying resolution that questions the ineffectiveness to change a predestined outcome.

At its core though, Be Invoked remains a relatively solid action film. With the destructive nature of the Ideon being brought into its true form here, we see the massively destructive power it can induce onto its enemies and the devastating consequences for everyone involved. And similar to the previous film, the action within Be Invoked is simply unceasing in its display of carnage and mayhem—but it’s never seen as trivial or as a diversion. What works significantly within the film is that the destructive violence viewed isn’t simply depicted as passive bloodshed; there is a real impact expressed from all those involved. Whether it’s the urgency of the Solo Ship crew to protect their youngest passengers from the ravenous advancement of the oncoming Buff Clan soldiers, to the Buff Clan fruitlessly carrying on a war they know they can’t truly win, Be Invoked yet again shows the brutal cyclical pattern of war. With children and adults being killed alike, it’s at times quite shocking to see just how maddening the situation has become for these characters in their seemingly endless pursuit of one another. It’s a theme within the Space Runaway Ideon saga that continues strongly throughout Be Invoked, but the film also alludes to the notion that destruction can in turn be viewed as a form of redemption.

With elements of the metaphysical being elaborated upon in film, Be Invoked takes this theme of redemption to a rather startling degree. Considering that the film is mainly centered on showing the exploits of humungous robots battling it out for the sake of utterly destroying one another, the notion of destruction being seen as a form of absolution is certainly interesting considering what this particular genre offered at the time. Tomino seems to want to explore the true nature of warfare and not simply exploit it for the sake of entertainment purposes. While the film could have easily become yet another excursion in robots battling it out—which it does still retain to the bitter end—it also attempts to sympathize with the outcome of its characters. Tomino also explored this within his previous series, the ever-popular Mobile Suit Gundam, but in Be Invoked it’s presented with a much darker tone and in many cases can be seen as largely fatalistic. With such a stark contrast to the first film, Be Invoked’s apocalyptic ending is seemingly warranted considering the disastrous circumstances displayed throughout the film, but exploration of such themes as death and rebirth elevate the film to a rather poignant and surprising climax.

In many respects, Be Invoked is a far superior film than A Contact, and for many reasons. While the previous film may have had its moments of stunning battle sequences, it felt entirely too convoluted at times given that it was compiling 32-episodes into a single film. One could also see the lapse in character development stemming from this decision. Fortunately, Be Invoked remedies all those mishaps to provide a film that is more easily understood structurally and endowed with much improved original animation. Acting as a canonical treatment towards the television series, the film attempts to tie up many loose ends that were present after the unfortunate television run—and it does so with ease. From start to finish the film never really slows down in presenting harrowing action sequences, shocking character deaths and acts of heated drama as it nears its conclusion. And with the film presenting one of the most peculiar ending sequences within anime at the time—and especially within the genre—it’s still rather startling to view today. In a sense, Tomino’s decision to conclude the film in such a way is rather befitting considering that he is a director that prefers to inject realism into his works. Given his preference as a director, Be Invoked is not a film one would particularly feel cheerful about after watching it. It offers a downtrodden tale of brutality, misjudgment and even racism—but these elements are perhaps what make it so mesmerizing to watch. It’s this injection of realism and the destructive outcome of war that establishes Be Invoked as one of Tomino’s most pivotal, influential and often times undervalued works as a director.

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Author: Miguel Douglas

As an avid viewer of both Japanese animation and cinema for more than a decade now, Miguel is primarily concerned with establishing a critical look into both mediums as legitimate forms of artistic, cultural, and societal understanding. Never one to simply look at a film or series based solely on superficiality, Miguel has dedicated himself towards bringing awareness to Asian entertainment and its various facets.

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