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Manga / Babel II

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Babel II (Babiru Ni-Sei, in some countries Babil Junior) is a manga created by Mitsuteru Yokoyama (of Gigantor and Giant Robo fame). The manga was published in Weekly Shōnen Champion from 1971-1973. An anime adaptation was produced by Toei Animation in 1973, followed years later by two remakes. One is a 4-episode OVA produced by J.C. Staff in 1992. The other is a 13-episode TV series produced by Vega Entertainment in 2001.

It follows the story of Koichi, a teenager who discovers to be a descendant of Babel I, an alien who fell on earth 5000 years ago, and who tried to build the eponymous tower as a way to make easier to send in the space a request for help, failing spectacularly. Nonetheless, Babel I decided to mate with humans and to leave his futuristic technology, hidden in the ruins of the tower, to the first of his descendants who manifested his same powers. And the first one was indeed Koichi... or maybe not.

Babel II provides examples of:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Even after the whole three arcs revolving around Yomi as villain, it's hard to not feel a bit sorry for the guy when he meets his final demise , specially because he actually had the upper hand over Koichi, and lost only to go to help his men who were suffocating, entrapped underwater by Koichi himself!
  • Ancient Astronauts: The very core of the plot.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Using their powers extensively causes Koichi and Yomi to become weak and aged. In fact, Yomi's use of a machine to amplify his powers drains him so thoroughly it kills him.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Some of Yomi's followers. At some point Yomi sends a squad to attack the Tower of Babel, and they prove to be a worth fight for Babel II, even if the origin of their powers seems to be completely mundane (hard training, extreme cunning and some dirty tricks like whips with poisoned needles).
  • Deceptively Human Robots: Yomi's robots have almost perfect human appearance, at least as long as they are dressed and not damaged or burned.
  • Expy: The Space Virus, which descends to Earth via satellite, landing in and killing a whole town, then the professionals sent into investigate, until finally two men in hazmat suits are left to take it all in, smacks of The Andromeda Strain.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Yomi and the Space Virus. While being infected allowed him to return to life, Yomi spends the first real test of his enhanced powers annihilating the army of infected dogs that were supposed to be his allies. He also keeps himself quarantined in glass to keep the virus from spreading to other members of his organization. The space virus spites him in turn by allowing Koichi to live and escape when Yomi goes for the killing blow.
  • Foreshadowing: Plenty. Almost all powers which are used as plot resolution by Koichi, were previously introduced as minor plot twists, often used by Yomi. And, of course, the fact that Yomi is another descendant of Babel I, because, come on, the tower's computer practically sets them one against the other from the start and they have basically the same powers!
  • A God Am I: Zigzagged with Yomi. Sometimes, specially at the start, he seems to let his followers believe he is some sort of god, or high priest of some god.
  • Hive Mind: How the space virus works.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Several examples, mostly regarding Yomi. Koichi and Rodem try to use against Yomi the self destruction mechanism that is activated when Yomi's mainframe is damaged. Yomi's device to increase his telepathic power to gain complete control over Ropuros, Rodem and Poseidon ends up draining all his powers.
  • Humongous Mecha: Poseidon.
  • Idiot Ball: Koichi defeats Yomi more than once, but doesn't bother to destroy the body, even knowing that Yomi shares his same blood and most of his powers, and one of these powers is an exceptional ability to recover from fatal injuries.
  • Killer Robot: They are extensively used by Yomi, and ofthen they prove to be a tough fight for Babel II they anyway usually end crushed by Poseidon.
  • Mean Boss: Zigzagged and more or less subverted with Yomi. He is ambitious and evil, he for sure is not A Father to His Men, he is fine in sacrificing them if it helps him to gain the upper hand and he electroshocks them to wake them up from hypnosis. Nonetheless he shows some concern when, during the first big battle, he must abandon the men on the surface to their fate; when it is possible, he rescues his men; and in one instance he even orders them to retreat because they were anyway no match for Koichi and his servants. And, eventually, his concern for the safety of his men leads him in a trap that, while it is not enough to kill him, it is enough to make him lose the upper hand he had for a brief moment over Koichi.
    • Yomi in the OAV version is much more in line with this trope, for he sacrificed his royal psychic lieutenants (literally) to gain more power to fight the hero in the final episode.
  • Near-Death Experience: Again, Yomi. After his first "death" he both partially recovers some of his lost memories about him being the first one who found the Tower of Babel which then he unlocks completely later and he understands the limits of his powers and the danger in overusing them, a thing that is a central element in the second big battle against Koichi.
  • Never Recycle Your Schemes: Subverted. For instance Yomi proves to be able to control Poseidon, Ropuros and Rodem almost as well as Koichi, and this is a key point in the first big battle; in the second big battle, Yomi seems to forget about this ability, while the three creatures attack his base, but instead he not only uses again the same trick a bit later, but he uses a device he created for the exact purpose to overcome Koichi stronger control over them.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: For the first dozen and some chapters, Koichi and Yomi are still discovering what exactly they're capable of.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The space virus when it blocks Yomi when he is going for the killing blow against Koichi.
  • Retcon: A very light instance. Initially Koichi is explicitly said that, as Babel II, he can decide to either be a protector for humans or to dominate them. And, coherently, the tower's computer says to Yomi that, yes, he too is a descendant of Babel I, but he was not chosen to be Babel II only because his powers were not considered strong enough, without making any moral remark. Anyway later the same computer explains to Koichi that Yomi had a potential on par with him, but that he was far too amoral to be worthy of becoming Babel II.
  • Self-Destructing Security: Yomi's base: when the mainframe detects that it has been damaged, it activates the self destruction mechanism for the whole base, because it either means the base has been conquered or that anyway the enemy has damaged it beyond repair. Koichi actually tries to use this against Yomi, with Rodem infiltrating inside the base and damaging the mainframe, to trigger the self destruction.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: The guardian of the tower. It doesn't even qualify as sacrifice, really. She accomplishes her apparent only purpose in life, being a Ms. Exposition for Koichi, and then self destructs herself.
    • Averted in the first anime version, in which the guardian was simply another disguise of Rodem.
  • Super Hero Origin: A villain variant: after his first "death" we discover the origin of Yomi's power he is another descendant of Babel I and the first one who was able to find the Tower of Babel, but he was deemed not worthy enough; it's still unclear if it was not worthy because not strong enough or because too much amoral.
  • Take Over the World: Yomi's plan.
  • The Chosen One: Koichi.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Koichi doesn't seem to have a second thought about killing Yomi's followers. And not only the ones who attack him personally, even simply the mooks in Yomi's bases. It becomes disturbing in the third arc, when Koichi floods Yomi's base so that his men are forced to block all the air conducts and start to suffocate, asking Yomi for help, who, feeling telepathically their agony, gives momentarily up fighting Koichi, losing the upper hand he had, and goes to help them, falling in a trap and using up a good deal of his powers' reserve, which proves fatal to him. The fact that Koichi makes clear it was planned and actually kinda gloats about Yomi needing to momentarily abandon the fight to save his men doesn't help.