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Anime / Space Runaway Ideon

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"A merry robot action anime about protecting the peace of the world and your neighborhood."

Space Runaway Ideon (a.k.a. 伝説巨神イデオン, Densetsu Kyojin Ideon, lit. Legendary Giant God Ideon, also The Ideon) is a 1980 Super Robot Genre, Mecha Show anime. It was the project that Yoshiyuki Tomino worked on directly after Mobile Suit Gundam. As with its sister series it had its run cut short, it was planned for 43 episodes but got pulled after 39. The last 4 episodes were made into the movie Be Invoked. Due to its angsty and bizarre ending, it is often cited as close inspiration for Neon Genesis Evangelion (Hideaki Anno himself describes Evangelion as Ideon meets Devilman). Heck, it's probably best known today as the absolute heavyweight champion of the Kill 'Em All trope.

The full story goes as follows: A group of Terran colonists on a remote planet find a Cool Starship and three bulky starfighters that combine into a Super Robot. The ship and the robot contain the so-called Ide, a source of infinite energy, which a militaristic alien-but-actually-human civilization of Buff Clan is after. This results in a rather monotonous Strategy of the Week as Buff Clan (unsuccessfully) employs increasingly more devastating technologies and renowned military commanders to bring down the Solo ship and to get their hands on Ideon. Along the way, many folks die, and the Solo crew screw up their relationships with other Terran colonies and the Earth itself, all of whom now want Ide for themselves. Towards the end of the series, every known army in the universe gangs up against the Solo crew. It also becomes apparent that Ideon has a will of its own and that it is displeased with the humans' wars and infighting — enough so to completely wipe all of them out... and that's where the series abruptly cuts. In The Movie, Buff Clan stages the final assault on the Solo ship and Ideon, this time with a planet-destroying Wave Motion Gun. And succeeds. Ideon explodes and destroys what's left of Buff Clan army — but before that, it generates a swarm of meteors that wipes out all life on both Earth and the Buff Clan homeworld (destruction of other Terran colonies is strongly implied). Cue the Mind Screwing scene with the characters' spirits being somehow reborn on a higher plane of existence.


The series features rather formulaic combat engagements that usually follow the pattern of Buff Clan (later, Earth, too) presenting their newest strategy/technology/commander, engaging Ideon (which may or may not be in combined form at the time), and getting their asses handed to them in every single episode. The grand scale of the battles commonly seen in various Gundams is unattainable with a single robot and a Cool Starship, so don't look for it here. Another notable feature is the shameless Plot Armor of major antagonists, as it is not uncommon to see them escape with ease while Ideon takes out their Redshirt Army. To be fair, however, the show isn't bad, just a little monotonous. Be Invoked, on the other hand, is a must for every anime fan out there. Otherwise, you miss out big time on how Kill 'Em All was done back in the days...


Yoshiyuki Tomino apparently wants to make a remake of it. Complete with the death scenes.

This anime provides examples of:

  • Action Girlfriend: Kasha.
  • Alliterative Name: Kitty Kitten.
  • Afro Asskicker: Cosmo Yuki, main character, main pilot of the Ideon and proud owner of a stylish orange 'fro.
  • All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": There are plenty that have heard about it's Kill 'Em All ending despite knowing nothing else about it.
  • Anyone Can Die: Taken to its absolute logical extreme in Be Invoked.
  • Apocalypse How:
    • In Be Invoked we see the energy from the Ideon's destruction spread out and engulf the remaining planets in the system. And then it just keeps getting larger... and larger...
    • It's theorized that the explosion destroyed the entire universe... Then rebuilt to start anew.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Gije. Becoming, obsessed with the Ideon, he defects to the Solo Ship so that he can witness 'a manifestation of the Ide'. He ends up becoming one of its pilots.
  • Badass Crew: The Solo Ship crew grow into this and having two variations of Proud Warrior Race Guy also help.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: So... so... many... *sob*.
  • Boldly Coming
  • Break the Haughty: Sheryl.
  • Cain and Abel: Karala is the Abel and Harulu is the Cain.
  • Combining Mecha: The eponymous Ideon itself is made out of three transforming component vehicles, including:
    • Sol-Amber/Ideo-Delta making up the arms and head.
    • Sol-Vainer/Ideo-Nova making up the torso.
    • Sol-Conver/Ideo-Buster making up the waist and legs.
  • Compressed Hair: How on Earth Planet Solo does Cosmo manage to make his Funny Afro fit inside his helmet?
  • Cool Ship
  • Cosmic Horror Story: One interpretation of the Ide is that it had decided to wipe out all life in the Universe at the start. Therefore it was deliberately manipulating the emotions of the crew of the Solo Ship to the point they hit the Despair Event Horizon during the movie.
  • Cosmic Plaything: The crew of the Solo Ship feel this is what they are in the hands of the Ide.
  • Creator Breakdown: The whole show is based on Tomino's mood...
  • Creator Cameo: Mr. Tomino is briefly seen as a crew member of the Solo Ship in Be Invoked. This most likely means even Tomino won't escape death in a Tomino Kill 'Em All story.
  • Creepy Twins: Dopa and Kiyaya Buff, who also have the ability of Twin Telepathy.
  • Culture Clash: When Terrans meet the Buff Clan, they raise a white flag of truce. Unfortunately, in the symbolism of the Buff Clan, the white flag means "we're gonna fight to the death."
    • Goes right into Fridge Logic territory when you realize that almost all Buff Clan characters (the only exception being members of Daram Zuba's private military) wear white clothes and spacesuits. This might be understandable for the army, but the Buff Clan group that started it all is explicitly stated to be an archeological expedition.
  • Cunning Linguist: Sheryl is a linguistic scholar.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Sheryl, again. Brutally prevented by Gije dying first.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Sheryl finds herself past it after all the crap already mentioned.
  • Downer Ending: It gets better... maybe.
    • If you believe a certain one-shot manga penned by Tomino, implying that the Universal Century of Gundam is the Universe that replaced Ideon's, and that Judau, hero of Gundam ZZ, is actually Cosmo reincarnated, then yes, things get a lot better.
      • The fact that the world of UC Gundam, which is torn apart by horrendously destructive giant robot wars every couple of years could reasonably be said to be a significant improvement really says something about Ideon...
      • And yet it's true. Even the crapsackiest parts of the UC timeline were petty disputes compared to the Crapsack World that was Ideon.
      • It got better in Super Robot Wars Alpha 3 too if you made the right choice in the later stages. Picking the other option though put you on one hell of a downer end, even more so when you realize that they drew EVERY single STMC to their location after they blew up Buster Machine 3. Good guys were screwed no matter what they did even if Ideon didn't explode.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Frequently.
  • Empathic Weapon: The Ideon itself, sorta.
  • The End of the World as We Know It
  • Failure Knight: Cosmo's guilt upon not being able to keep Kitty Kitten alive. In Be Invoked, when their souls are reunited, he apologizes to her, but she smiles and tells him to ease up
  • Fatal Family Hologram
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: DS drive.
  • First Church of Mecha: This mech is the wrathful kind of god.
  • Foreshadowing: In the opening theme we are outright told that the titular mecha's power can rip apart the galaxy.
  • Funny Afro: Subverted: Cosmo has a HUGE Afro, but in-story, no one thinks anything of it. The fandom, on the other hand...
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Buff Clan's last ditch effort to destroy Ideon does succeed.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: The Ideon is rather fond of hand-to-hand combat, either by choice or when the Ideon Gauge 'is low'.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Bes and Karala's child.
  • Hime Cut: Karala.
  • Hot-Blooded Action Girl: Kasha, more so than the other Ideon pilots.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place
  • Hypocrite: Many characters are this when one really looks at their words and compares them to their actions. Gije is one of the most obvious stating to fight honorably when casually killing defenseless civilians.
    • Especially noticeable when the main characters reach a friendly planet and Gije attacks said planet via Sub-Light Missiles that destroy entire cities, killing millions, then threatens to kill off 90% of the population in the same way if Ideon and the Solo ship aren't given to him, then he has the gall to call the defenders a "Brutal Race" for fighting back instead of giving into his demands.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug
  • Infant Immortality: Nastily subverted in the movie All of the kids die, some very gruesomely.
  • Interspecies Romance: Repeatedly.
  • Kick the Dog: In episode 12, while begging Harulu to spare the Solo Ship and her crew, Harulu orders Guhaba to humiliate her by tearing off part of her shirt, then orders everyone else watching to laugh at her.
  • Kill 'Em All: By the man himself. Not only does Ideon explode, not only does every named character dies, not only does all of humanity die - a large portion of the galaxy is annihilated in the process.
    • Also Real Life Writes the Plot: Many characters were killed off because the production team could no longer afford to pay their voice actors.
  • Kill Sat: The Buff clan's Gando Rowa, a 500 by 350km installation powered by a supernova. It can destroy a planet when powered up to 40% and eventually destroys the Ideon.
  • Laser Blade: The "Ideon Blade" is the absolute, undisputed heavyweight champion of this trope. It can slice one whole freaking planet in half, and it is speculated that its reach is potentially infinite.
  • Not Hyperbole: The opening theme tells that Ideon can rip apart the galaxy. Obviously an exaggeration, right? You keep thinking that if you live in that universe. You will live happier for as long as you have left.
  • Off with His Head!: How Kitty and later Ashura die in Be Invoked.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: In the very end of the second movie.
  • Papa Wolf: The Ideon itself. New Powers as the Plot Demands are activated by children being in danger. Some of the more clever characters even try to deliberately utilize this.
  • Pietà Plagiarism: In Be Invoked, Daram's soul carries Harulu's around like this.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Subverted with Karala who takes three bullets in the face from her sister Harulu; however, we don't see the results.
    • Also averted - again, in a memorably nasty way - in Be Invoked. One of the Solo Ship's orphan-mascot-type kids is killed brutally via a bazooka shot that just... obliterates the poor little girl's head in an instant. No time for blood or splatter - just *boom* .
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Buff Clan don't allow us to forget that they are samurai.
  • Ray of Hope Ending: Everyones' souls are pretty cheerful and optimistic about... um... whatever they're anticipating next, good luck figuring that out. Granted, it can't be any worse than what they just went through.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: At one point, the crew uses the most advanced computer humanity has ever created in order to analyze the Ide. It'd be safe to say that infinity would be considered WAY off the scale.
  • Reflectionless Useless Eyes: The Buff Clan look identical to humans, with the exception of their eyes.
  • Revenge Lotta tries to shoot Karala once because of this.
  • Rivals Team Up: Gije, of all people, becomes the second best pilot of Ideon. Too bad he doesn't live long...
  • Roboteching
  • R-Rated Opening: Be Invoked opens with the severed head of the main character's love interest flying through the air after a brutal attack. Hope you enjoyed your popcorn.
  • Sanity Slippage: Sheryl in Be Invoked, after losing both his sister Lin and his lover Gije in the previous episodes.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Several of Buff Clan's mecha are modeled after the Martians' tripod from The War of the Worlds.
    • One episode of the series is named "violent battle on the Planet of the Apes"
    • The Ideon is a technology left by a possibly extinct civilization powered by the Ide/Id, like the Krell Machine of Forbidden Planet was a technology left by an extinct civilization powered by the Id from its users.
    • The Ideon itself takes the head design of the GMs from Mobile Suit Gundam. What a change.
    • In some scenes, Sandworms are visible which look extremely similar to those of Dune.
    • The ending of Be Invoked has some planet scenes similar to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    • In episode #7, Karala says that her homeworld is next to the Gido nebula, whose 2 halves are called Zenji nebula and Gundam nebula.
  • Spiritual Successor: Many people say that this show is the "spiritual predecessor" to Neon Genesis Evangelion. It uses many of the same themes and even has a similar ending to Evangelion.
  • Spoiler Opening: The theme song basically foreshadows everything in the entire series. Yes, including the parts about the galaxy being ripped apart, the time of resurrection and the birth of a new world. All this despite being cheery and catchy as hell.
  • Team Mom: Kitty Kitten was this for the orphans she gave a home to. Lin and Karala are also this, to a degree.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Gije, after he got Put on a Bus, tasked with studying Ide, and came back only to be abandoned by his new superiors.


How well does it match the trope?

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