Ulysses 31 (originally titled Ulysse 31 in France, 宇宙伝説ユリシーズ31 in Japan) is an anime series co-produced by Tokyo Movie Shinsha studios and the French company DIC Entertainment. As the name implies, it is based on Homer's The Odyssey and heavily borrows plot elements from it, as well as various plot elements and characters from other famous Greek myths.In the 31st century, spaceship commander Ulysses flies home from the Trojan War. On the way back to Earth, he rescues his son Telemachus and two young Zotrians (Yumi and Numinor) from a Human Sacrifice and destroys the Cyclops, angering Poseidon and the other gods who rule the universe of Olympus, from which it came. Zeus curses Ulysses by dragging Ulysses' ship, the Odyssey, through into Olympus, putting his crew and Numinor in suspended animation, and erasing the ship's memory files that contain Earth's location. Ulysses will now have to wander throughout unknown galaxies in the Olympus and face various threats and dangerous traps set by the gods until he finds the realm of Hades, at which point his crew will be revived and he will be allowed to travel back to Earth.He is accompanied in his quest by his teenage son Telemachus; Yumi (Themis in French) a blue-skinned alien little girl with telepathic powers; and a small toy robot named Nono.The series is an unusual product of international collaboration, that is still right now rather unique in its quality (there was a two-week delay for episode production, instead of the standard one-week; the French team was almost entirely made of professional illustrators, which forced the Japanese animation team to actually simplify the graphics, but also gave them enough inspiration to go much farther than what they were used to). A second season was planned but ultimately cancelled.The Odyssey was originally planned to be animated by computer, but the single wireframe model generated was still too complex to render for the machines of the times. So, the only computer animation left is the opening credits.
Ulysses 31 provides examples of the following tropes:
Cyber Cyclops: For the obligatory blinding of the cyclops scene, he got revamped this way, in order to fit into the sci-fi setting. Also served by cultists who have put out their eyes and jammed a large crystal into the space between the sockets.
Follow the Leader: In the 90's Marvel Comics had a team called the Pantheon, and rather noticeably it had a member named Ulysses whose powers were having an energy sword and shield.
Genre Blindness: Ulysses and everyone else haven't wised up to the fact that they are reliving Homer's epic in a SF context, despite meeting the original Ulysses at one point (near the very end of the series). 31st century Ulysses does remark the gods treating the both of them rather similarly, however since the future cast gets a reboot to the beginning of the episode, he can't remember it.
Most episodes are based on Ancient Greece myths, however only half of them do allude to The Odyssey — and those that do, due to Adaptation Distillation, only bear a vague resemblance to the original. This actually appears very well when the cast is sent to the past, as although similar-looking and a good warrior, 31st century Ulysses is far from being as eager for revenge as his ancestor. Let's not forget that Odysseus was more well-known for his trickery than his courage in battle (though the guy was hailed as one of the best warriors of his time, he was also known to avoid direct confrontation whenever he could help it and/or didn't feel like bathing in the blood of his enemies).
A God Am I: Circe wants to achieve godhood through omniscience.
God Is Evil: The gods persecute Ulysses in particularly petty and underhanded ways. This is normal for Classical Mythology, which is practically defined by its Jerkass Gods, but the gods of Ulysses 31 manage to be even crueller.
Punishing Ulysses for slaying the Cyclops here is arguably worse than in the original Odyssey, because here it's not Poseidon's son but a robot he created, and which is being used by a bunch of lunatics to drain the lives of children so they can see, as it implies that either Poseidon didn't care what they were using it for... or actually created it for that purpose!
The episode "Flowers of Fear" features killer robo-plants that can hide themselves away perfectly when dormant, but react to the presence of life by growing into huge monstrous plants that seek to blast the living creature with lasers. The gods sowed these things across the entirety of a planet devoted solely to medicine... because they were too good at curing sick people for the gods' liking (Mind you, they were so good at curing sick people they could cure death).
Ominous Opera Cape: The personifications of Zeus, Poseidon and Hades during Ulysses' final trial in the last episode.
Orphean Rescue: In the last episode, Ulysses meets the 31st century Orpheus, who wants to find his wife in Hades' kingdom. Ulysses' entrance into Hades' kingdom can be considered as one too, as Hades wants to turn his crew into his own citizens.