In the year 2065, the world's two superpowers are fighting over the control of a Space Elevator. Fighter pilot Kei Katsuragi and his friend Olson are assigned to just blow the damn thing up, providing escort for engineers using a new "dimensional" weapon of mass destruction - the Space/Time Oscillation Bomb. However, everything goes wrong when the engineers die before it can be set off. Kei is ordered to abandon and self-destruct the bomb, but instead chooses to start fiddling with it.
One flash of light later, Kei finds himself hurled into what he believes is another world... or is it? As it turns out, the world he ends up in is Earth; however, it is an Earth that is made up of many different dimensions... many alternate Earths squashed together - where dinosaurs evolved into a sentient species, where mankind was destroyed in a Robot War, where monarchies never fell, etc. When Kei started fiddling with the Space/Time Oscillation Bomb, he ended up turning the space-time of the entire planet into kudzu. A kudzu world with an expiration date, as the dimensional effect is maintaining itself at roughly a few miles above the planet's surface, and is trapping enough heat in the atmosphere that everyone will bake to death in a few more years. Kei ends up on the Emaan flying ship Glomar, joining its crew of gypsy-like traders on a quest across the planet and back to restore the pre-STOB world before all life is exterminated.
Not as popular, but more imaginative, than its older brother, Orguss is the second show in the "Super Dimension" series, between Super Dimension Fortress Macross and Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross.
A six-episode sequel OVA, Orguss 02 done by JC Staff (of Slayers fame), was released in 1993. The story is set in a completely different world; at first, the only ties to the original series are the Orguss and Nikick mecha buried around the world, along with the ruins of the orbital elevator where everything started. The kingdoms of Rivilia and Zafrin have both learned how to rebuild the ruined "armors" (or "Decimators" in the English dub) using their World War II-level Schizo Tech, and the cold war between them is on the verge of igniting. But more of the original story resurfaces as young Rivilian mechanic Lean is sucked into the conflict between the nations, and meets Nataruma, an escaped Zafrin agent with strange powers, a chip on her shoulder, and an unusual heritage...
Orguss plays a big role in Super Robot Wars Z. Specifically, the Space-Time Oscillation Bomb Kei blew up at the beginning of the series was the catalyst for merging all the worlds and all the problems that came with it.
Super Dimension Century Orguss contains examples of:
- Ace Pilot: Kei's pretty skilled and can at least stay alive when he's hopelessly outnumbered. Super Robot Wars Z puts him nearly on level with Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack-era Amuro, and note that Orguss is a Fragile Speedster mech whose only weapon is literally nothing but missiles, missiles, missiles.
- Absurdly Youthful Mother: Any Emaan with a child is this, as the species suffers from a condition where females are rendered sterile unless they have their first child before they turn eighteen years old.
- Back for the Dead: Poor, poor Sley.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: The Emaan are Humanoid Aliens with head-tails and a very limited period of female fertility, being rendered incurably barren by the age of eighteen.
- Blue Is Heroic: Kei's uniform is blue and white.
- Brick Joke: the woman Kei was sleeping with at the start of the first episode would end up being pregnant and having a daughter, one who would go on to become Kei's rival when he returned, and is first shown eleven episodes after the start of the series.
- The Captain: Shaya's one, but it a fairly lax individual more concerned with traveling around, finding markets, and protecting Kei than imposing discipline
- Christmas Cake: It's even worse for Emaan women. Their bodies start undergoing a change when seventeen years old and develop a painful fever. Then anywhere from half a year to one year later, they become barren and aren't even viewed as women anymore. Captain Shaya is already past that age, and Mimsy's pretty damn close.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: Mu attack robots seem easier to kill the more of them are present.
- Dramatic Irony: The "previously on" segments let the viewer know that Kei has been thrown 20 years into the future. It's quite a while before he finds this out.
- Death of a Child: Prince Parion's half-brother, aged 6 years old or so, gets poisoned and chokes to death on-screen.
- Earth All Along: subverted. Within six episodes, Kei knows he's still on Earth when he sees a guy driving a jeep.
- Kei finds out later on though that the Chilam are in fact the humans from his world, however.
- Expy: Many of the characters resemble those from the previous "Super Dimension" show, Macross. Which isn't too surprising seeing as how it's the same character designer. Mimsy in particular looks like Minmei but with Misa's hair color.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: A map of the world shown in one of the later episodes show that the Mu, the evil robots who are giving our heroes such grief, do actually come from a continent in the Pacific that doesn't exist in our world. (There's also Atlantis in the Atlantic, but we already knew about that, since our heroes were helped by the Atlantians in a previous episode.)
- Gainax Ending: The natural result of the setting. By the last story arc, everyone knows that the Mu robots are resisting any and all efforts to fix the world, believing that the artificial greenhouse effect will spare inorganic lifeforms. The Chilam still have some scheme to control Kei and Olson when they repair space-time, and it's heavily implied the Emaan have something up their sleeves too. Kei and Olson reach the Great Singularity Point just as it is about to be destroyed by a meteor... only to find that the GSP is actually the Space/Time Oscillation Bomb locked in the moment before its activation along with the Kei and Olson from the prologue. The older Kei and Olson realize the implications immediately and draw their weapons, resulting in their past selves drawing their own, followed by four gunshots. With everyone capable of activating it dead, the bomb self-destructs, ending an otherwise Stable Time Loop. Thus, every timeline began flowing separately, making all possible endings true.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Sley early on, and then Mome and Taii leading up to the final moments of the series where Olson and Kei kill their past selves and die in the process to correct the damage to the Earth
- Idiot Hero: Lampshaded by Shaya, leaving Kei wondering whether it's a compliment or an insult.
- Implacable Man: The Mu combat androids are nearly indestructible. Oftentimes two or three infantry go into fights with hordes of enemy mecha. And win.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Sley, in spite of his dislike of Kei, genuinely cares for Mimsy and grows to respect her interest in Kei
- Jeanne d'Archétype: In one of the earlier arcs, as the cast is travelling across France, they find a woman called Joan of Arc is leading a rebellion to overthrow the tyrant ruling over her country.
- Latex Space Suit: Emaan uniforms. Stated in the manual to have smaller versions of their drive systems in them, enabling them to make six-meter bounds - such as into the cockpits of mecha.
- Lovable Sex Maniac: Kei is one and the series introduces him to the viewers with him making out with a woman.
- Macross Missile Massacre: The Orguss is literally armed with nothing but missiles. Even its hand held gun shoots missiles. Taii is also armed to the teeth with missiles in his torso, although he only uses them on other machines, not life forms.
- Somewhat Truth in Television for Orguss as far as fighter planes are concerned, which is what Orguss basically functions like.
- Made of Explodium: Ishkicks, so much so as to having their legs bump into each other being enough to trigger explosions; multiple times no less. Amazingly, the reconnaissance versions called Ishfons qualify more for Cannon Fodder than the regular versions.
- In an ironic twist, the toy versions of the Ishkicks made by Takatoku are notoriously fragile - especially the legs.
- Meaningful Name: A double-instance of it with the same character. Athena was the Goddess of War in Greek Mythology, and serves as Kei's rival. His rebuilt Bronco 2 is dubbed "Orguss", named after the God of War from Jabby's dimension. Then it's revealed that Athena is Kei's daughter with his girlfriend Tina. Due to Japanese phonetics, Athena's name would be pronounced "Atina"
- Merged Reality: The setting of the story. An inversion of the usual trope as the characters' goal is to undo the merging.
- Mid-Season Upgrade: Kei goes from his Bronco II to the titular Orguss.
- Mildly Military: Justified. The Glomaar is a merchant ship, not a military one.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Episode 25. Slow-motion bread tossing. That is all.
- Nuclear Weapons Taboo: semi-averted. They are mentioned earlier on along with biological and chemical weapons, but the real big weapon in the wars before the reality war is the Space-Time Oscillation Bombs.
- Really Gets Around: Kei, at least before he's sent into the future. Our first scene with him is in a girl's bed, and his rival is actually his daughter, all grown up
- Robot War: The Chilam are fighting one against the robot forces of Mu.
- Romantic False Lead: Kei essentially wows Mimsy while her boyfriend Sley starts becoming more and more like a Romantic Runner-Up. In an unusual case, Kei tells Sley become more assertive and do more to protect Mimsy and seems to have a positive effect on the guy. Not to mention when Sley decided to marry Mimsy and have a child before she lost her fertility, Kei was happier about it than Sley and flat-out admitted they were a better match.
- If similar character designs weren't enough, some Macross characters make cameos, among them Minmei, Shammy, Vanessa and Misa.
- Mimsy, Mome and Jabby's names are "Jabberwocky" references.
- Spoiler Opening: The opening reveals that the orbital tower still exists.
- Super Prototype: Averted with Orguss. From what we can tell, there's no noticeable difference or advantage the original Orguss has over the mass-produced Orguss 2 machines created in the latter part of the series.
- Surprisingly Good English: The opening and endings themes, though that should be obvious when remembering that the singer Casey Rankin, while he lived from Japan from 1971 until he day he died, lived in America until he was 25.
- Transforming Mecha: Even more than Macross, which had three. The Orguss has four forms: Its robot form, its plane form, its plane form with legs out for extra missiles (similar to the Gerwalk form in Macross) and a unique tank form that allows for quick travel on land and is used for ramming.
- Trapped in Another World: A world made up of many other worlds.
- Weapon of Mass Destruction: The first episode has a memorable sequence where they alphabetize WMDs.
- What Measure is a humanoid Non-Human: Of all the people in the series, those that treat Mome the most like a useless piece of junk are her own kind, one robot deriding her as an outmoded maintenance robot that should be replaced. Compare that to how pretty much every human treats her as someone with her own thoughts and feelings.
Orguss 02 contains examples of:
- A Mech by Any Other Name: As mentioned above, the salvaged mecha are called "Armors" (or "Decimators" in the English dub.)
- Archaeological Arms Race: Rivilia and Zafrin are both racing to excavate and repair all the Orguss and Nikick mecha they can find before the cold war between them heats up. Most of the second episode revolves around infiltrating a mining town devoted to excavating mecha.
- The Constant: At first, just the space elevator (and Kei's old Orguss which gets salvaged and refurbished in the first episode). Later, the Mu "Captain(Tai'i)" shows up, with a field promotion to "Colonel".
- Enigmatic Minion: Manning, Lean's Affably Evil Mentor after the death of his surrogate father, is neck deep in the political intrigue of Rivilia, doing personal jobs for the Evil Chancellor who became regent. However, even going beyond allowing Lean to rescue Nataruma, and later freeing Toria for infamously wrong reasons, he reveals that he had been a double agent for Prince Perion's faction.
- Falling into the Cockpit: Lean in the first episode, when he has to fight off an attacking mecha to save the cargo plane carrying Manning and his mentor Zante. (Manning was a qualified pilot, but his first plan was to just take the Decimator and run; this way, he can land the plane.)
- Half-Human Hybrid: As a descendant of Kei and Mimsy, Nataruma carries the heritage of both of their races as well as the humanity of the world Orguss 02 is set on. As the Colonel points out, this results in her unusually strong psychic powers.
- The Juggernaut: The enormous "Verifier" mecha that Zafrin excavates in the second episode is able to decimate anything in its path, and withstand any attacks against it; its only weakness is how quickly psychic monks burn out operating the sensors (justifying Nataruma's importance). Even Perion's plan to destroy it by using nuclear weapons only destroys its legs — and it still drags itself onward with its arms until Perion reveals his Superweapon Surprise.
- Not with the Safety on, You Won't: After Lean breaks into his country's torture chambers to rescue Nataruma, holding his mentor Lt. Manning at riflepoint, Manning casually mentions that Lean needs to load a bullet in the gun's breech to fire — after he's already tied up. When Lean asks why he didn't... mention... this earlier, Manning just explains that "he's a whimsical man."
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Prince Parion feigns idiocy for the first few episodes of the OVA - until he orchestrates the murder of his half-brother and the Evil Chancellor who killed his father, assuming the throne himself. He then goes on to attempt a global omnicide using a Humongous Mecha.
- Psychic Powers: Members of an order of monks are used by both the Rivilian and Zafrin militaries as the equivalents of both radar and long-range cameras, thanks to their mental abilities. However, they have a tendency of dying after overusing their powers. Nataruma has unusually strong powers as a part-Emaan, which the Zafrin military trained her to use so she could help operate their enormous Decimator.
- Schizo Tech: Salvaged mecha in a world which has otherwise pretty much reverted to an early-20th century level of technology. In addition, an order of monks with Psychic Powers is used in place of radar and long-range cameras.
- Sphere of Destruction: Played with near the end. After Parion defeats the giant Zafrin Decimator, he launches a missile at their capital that explodes into one of these... except we see everyone and everything inside the sphere, untouched. That is, until all the people vomit up blood, collapse, and die. Parion muses that the corpses will make good fertilizer for the gardens he hopes will grow from the ruins.
- That's No Moon!: Prince Parion's island retreat is actually the resting place of an incredibly powerful Decimator in mint condition.
- Weaponized Exhaust: Lean ends up resorting to this when he Falls Into The Cockpit for the first time.