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Anime / Super Atragon

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Super Atragon (Shin Kaitei Gunkan) is a two-part anime OVA made in 1995, with a total running time (excluding credits) of a little over 1.5 hours. It centres on a Phlebotinum-powered submarine-battleship named the Ra. It has the same plot premise as the old Japanese Sci-Fi Tokusatsu movie Atragon (Kaitei Gunkan), and the two novels that it was based uponnote . It could be seen as a Humongous Mecha show as it uses many of the genre's tropes, but with a Dieselpunk battleship instead of a robot.

The show opens with a prologue scene depicting the Ra in 1945, under the Imperial Japanese flag, engaging in a broadside match against an American submarine-battleship, the Liberty. After which we have the opening credits, and then the action skips to present day Antarctica, where a mysterious black object is rising from the ice and an expedition is sent to investigate.

They discover that an advanced race of subterranean dwellers tested humanity in 1932 with two sources of power and two emissaries. For decades the emissaries lay in a coma, but now they have awakened, and one of them has decided that humans have failed the test and must be exterminated. War machines of devastating power have risen around the world; and humanity's only hope is the Ra, rebuilt in all of its big-gunned glory, with a bombastic soundtrack to match.

This show provides examples of:

  • Adapted Out: Because of how protective Toho is of their characters, the kaiju Manda is completely absent.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The OVA ends with the Ra flying away to find any more awakening weapons.
  • Apocalypse How: The Big Bad is attempting a Class 3a to the Earth's surface while using a method that would have actually caused a Class 5.
  • Artistic License – Ships: US battleships are named after states, not abstract concepts.
  • Book Ends: The opening battle and the final battle both pit the Ra against the Liberty; both battles ended with a head-to-head drill ramming action.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation:
    • Captain Hayate shouts, "ENGAGE!" when issuing "Fire" commands.
    • He also refers to the main guns' shells as "Missiles" despite the animation clearly showing they're shells.
  • The Bridge: Much of the fighting footage show the captain giving out orders on the bridge.
  • Cain and Abel: Annette and Avatar were very close before they were sent to the surface. Then they grew apart.
  • The Captain: Captain Hayate.
  • Catchphrase: Hayate manages to develop one in the 1.5 hours of runtime, "UNDERSEA-BATTLESHIP RA, ENGAGE!!!"
  • Chekhov's Gun: The captain hands his family sword to Go as a symbolic gesture, but later the sword is used to cut his bonds and save him from drowning.
  • Cool Boat: Both the Ra and the Liberty runneth over with cool.
  • Cold Open: The prologue battle scene set before the traditional TV Show opening.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Every time the enemy fights anything but the Ra.
  • Diesel Punk: The series glories in the Ra's use of 1940s-era naval and air technology with a heavy seasoning of Imported Alien Phlebotinum.
  • Do a Barrel Roll: The ocean-going Ra pulls one of these in her first engagement. Ra 's main guns cannot elevate high enough to shoot the enemy target. In order to elevate them to a high enough angle, they flood the the port side ballast tanks, tilting the entire ship another 45 degrees off-keel and bringing the guns to the desired elevation.
  • Don't Call Me "Sir": Tashibana says this verbatim when Go meets him for the first time in Antarctica.
  • Energy Weapon: The enemy's powerful laser shots; bonus points for the "gravity lens" that bends the lasers, aiming them at targets.
  • Evil Laugh: Avatar's cackle is used so much, it goes into Narm territory.
  • Hollow Earth: Where a race of subterranean dwellers can produce kilometer-wide cylinders.
  • Hot-Blooded: Go Arasaka gets into a fight inside a helicopter, nearly punches the Ra's captain (his father) and impulsively steals a Diesel Punk seaplane to go rescue his girlfriend. All this while hamming up his lines, especially when impulsively going to rescue his girlfriend in the seaplane he jacked from the Ra.
  • Just a Stupid Accent:
    • Annette has a British Accent in the English dub for no reason beyond the producers ensuring the lead female protagonist doesn't get mistaken for American.
    • The Ra's chief engineer has a vaguely German/Eastern European accent for no reason.
  • Large Ham: Captain Hayate, Go, Annette and Avatar all serve up truck-loads of ham enough to sink the show's seriouness. Just let it ride and watch more Stuff Blowing Up.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Avatar leads the U.N. fleet (read:Eagleland) to the doorstep of the Ra 's island base to commandeer the Undersea Battleship, then fakes an attack to bait the fleet into a full attack.
  • Limited Wardrobe: The only change of clothes after the prologue are Annette putting on her native ceremonial clothes and Go with a pilot's suit.
  • Military Mashup Machine: Both the Ra and Liberty are submarine-battleships.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: The Ra shows new features in the middle of fights, most are used exactly once. It is likely that the OVA was a pilot intended to be followed by later episodes, which might have seen it have a consistent power set.
  • No Indoor Voice: Captain Hayate has volume control issues, even when issuing otherwise routine/mundane orders.
    Captain Hayate (after a battle is over & the Ra is still airborne) "GO TO SURFACE MODE!"
  • Parental Abandonment: Go's father was a merchant marine captain that supposedly died when his ship capsized near Antarctica during Go's early childhood. Go's mother died later in life. His father is Captain Hayate.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Captain Hayate is prone to saying his Catchphrase this way, "UNDERSEA-BATTLESHIP RA, ENGAGE!!!
  • Red Shirt Navy: The massive US-led, UN fleet gets swept from the ocean in one shot.
  • Ramming Always Works: The climax of the opening battle and the final battle: the Ra and Liberty turn to ram each other. In the 1940s, both ships are destroyed; in the final battle, the Liberty 's drill-missiles are foiled by the Ra 's rocket-anchors, freeing the Ra to plow through the Liberty 's bow, destroying her and killing Avatar.
  • Schematized Prop: The opening credits roll over blueprints of the Ra.
  • Secret Test of Character: The two power sources sent to Earth's surface were ostensibly supposed to be this for all of humanity. Considering they were sent up during the middle of a raging war, and ended up in opposing hands, it comes off as more of a setup and Pretext for War than anyting else.
  • Schizo Tech: Modern mach 2 fighters and their missiles could not scratch the enemy's advanced weaponry. A fictional, WWII-style, seaplane armed with nothing but machine-guns could swat down several before being damaged.
  • This Is a Drill:
  • Universal Driver's License: Go can go from antarctic tracked vehicles to WWII era seaplanes with no training or control familiarization.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: The enemies' giant black cylinders fire lasers that can cut a modern destroyer in half in a second.