Dallos: How Ghost in the Shell’s Mamoru Oshii Created the First OVA

Mamoru Oshii is best known for directing the 1995 hit Ghost in the Shell, but what most anime fans don't know is that he also directed what is considered the first original video animation (OVA). Back in 1983, Oshii teamed up with fellow director Hisayuki Toriumi to create Dallos, a four-episode sci-fi series set in the late 21st Century. This series would create a trend that would have a major impact on how anime and side-material were created and distributed to anime fans for years to come.

An OVA is a series or movie that is generally created for home release, not being shown in theaters or television before distribution. This allows for more creative flexibility, as the studios aren't limited to what is considered acceptable for television viewers -- though they still have to follow censorship laws. In America, these are more widely known as "direct-to-video" releases. Because of this freedom, OVAs tend to be more violent or explicit than anime made for theaters or television. OVAs are also often broken up into parts and can run anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. They also tend to have better animation quality due to higher budgets. OVAs are also used to 1 for anime that are broadcasted to television, like Detective Conan or Attack on Titan.

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Dallos was released by Bandai in Japan, and received a 1991 English dub under the title Battle for Moon Station Dallos. It was also considered the first "direct-to-video" anime release. It was released in four parts, with each part running about 20-30 minutes. In 1985, it was compiled into an 85-minute film. An uncut version was released in America in 2014 for the first time on DVD by Diskotek. Crunchyroll began streaming the OVA in 2015.

The story is set on the moon, where a mining colony has been set up due to a resource shortage on Earth. The people of the colony have been mistreated by their leaders, leading to acts of terrorism and the popular worship of a strange structure they call "Dallos." The protagonist is a young man named Shun Nomonura, who joins the rebels as they try to overthrow the Earth Federal Government, and subsequently changes the lives of those around him as a result. Young and old become divided on whether Earth deserves their allegiance and whether anyone actually cares about the colony and its problems.

Oshii and Toriumi took turns directing, with Oshii directing Episode 2 and the action scenes of Episode 3 and Toriumi directing Episode 1 and the dramatic scenes of Episode 3. It's unclear who took the directing lead for Episode 4. Because of the alternating directions, the story and scenes can feel disjointed at times. Oshii claimed that some of the action scenes were based on the Sylvester Stallone film First Blood, primarily scenes where the colonists use what they have available as makeshift weapons.

It would be during this time that Toriumi would begin mentoring Oshii, leading the latter to go on and become the sci-fi veteran that he is. Oshii would go on to direct the influential Ghost in the Shell movie and Angel's Egg. He is also known for his direction of the Urusei Yatsura anime. Toriumi, meanwhile, is known for working on classics like Speed Racer and Gatchaman. He would meet Oshii when the two worked for Tatsunoko Productions in the '70s, leading them to work together on Dallos after Toriumi helped found Studio Pierrot in 1979 and Oshii transferred to the company. Toriumi has since passed away, but Oshii is still working as a director, though most of his projects post-2009 have been live-action.

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