IroIro Retro Emporium Logo\\

Luna Varga

Kaiju have been a part of Japanese pop culture for decades. Movies full of people in rubber suits pretending to be giant monsters smashing entire cities to bits. Dozens of these creatures have risen to stardom with Godzilla easily being the most popular of all. With time the giant lizard would appear in several movies, have all sorts of merchandise, and make cameos in other productions. Everyone loved him. What does this have to do with an anime OVA, though? Simple, Luna Varga is a none too graceful attempt to tap into this popularity, as it combines a warrior princess trying to rescue her little sister with a giant lizard companion that she can control which looks a lot like Godzilla but totally isn’t Godzilla (*wink wink*).

Gimmick aside, Luna Varga is a very straightforward comedic adventure fantasy. There’s an imperialistic nation called Dunbas that has been steadily marching across the continent conquering one country after the next. Finally, it has come to Rimbell, where a young princess named Luna lives. She’s not at all dainty and would much rather spend her time dawning armor and bashing evildoers over the head. While the Rimbell army does its best to repel the invaders, things aren’t going so well. With things looking grim, Luna’s grandfather, the king, is about to head to a secret chamber below his castle. However, Luna gets there first and a mysterious voice asks her if she would like power. Of course, she accepts hoping whatever this power will help her kick the Dunbas army out of her country. With a flash of light and a small earthquake, Luna finds herself outside with her butt attached to the forehead of a giant lizard.

What actually wound up happening when she asked for power was that she merged with an ancient beast named Varga that was tamed by one of Luna’s ancestors and who agreed to be summoned by his descendants in times of need. Once Luna gets a grasp of the situation she uses Varga to attack the invading army and quickly saves her kingdom. However, during the commotion a strange, blue gargoyle-looking creature swoops in and kidnaps Luna’s youngest sister. Varga asks Luna if they should rescue her, and of course she says yes. That’s basically the rest of the series as the two go in search of the young girl, meeting friends along the way, and eventually discovering that an ancient evil closely tied to Varga is returning to the world after being imprisoned for centuries. The core of Luna Varga’s story is a very well-trodden path as far as early 90s anime adventures are concerned.

Thankfully, it has some decently entertaining characters to keep things interesting. Luna and Varga are largely vehicles for the show to have big, climatic battles from time to time. However, there are a number of smaller roles that act as comedic relief on quite a regular basis. First and foremost is Bat Robis, a burly general in the Dunbas army with whom Luna has several encounters, usually finding ways to make the ogre of a man look quite foolish. Of course, with every setback Robis just wants to fight Luna more, and he’s clearly quite brave as the site of Varga doesn’t scare him one bit. Eventually his nephew, Jeune, starts falling for Luna, though. So, Robis begins to begrudgingly warm up to the princess. There’s also a black mage named Gilbert whose opinion of himself far exceeds his skill with the dark arts. Meanwhile, a number of much smaller characters also pop in for quick gags. On the whole, there is hardly any character development, but there are some who are good for a few chuckles that keep things moving along.

Visually, the show has a look that is more of a mix of what was popular in the late 80s and early 90s. For instance, Luna looks more like a heroine in an 80s fantasy adventure a la Outlander, while characters like Gilbert and Bat Robis have a style that would fit right in for something like Slayers. There isn’t really anything that stands out about anyone, Luna having a giant lizard tail not withstanding. It’s just an mish-mash of prominent styles of the era. The only thing that might get viewers attention is Varga himself, not due to creativity, but due to the lack thereof. He looks like a dead wringer for Godzilla. The show even uses sound effects that sound way too similar to ones from the actual movies the kaiju appeared in. Just look at one of the screenshots in the side column. The resemblance is uncanny and it’s a small wonder Luna Varga’s production studio didn’t get a call from some lawyers who had some questions about this. Also, before changing gears, it’s also worth noting that the show has periodic fan service. Normally this isn’t something that would get much mention, but it does here for a particular scene that was sudden and aggressive. More often than not, it’s pretty easy to tune out this stuff, but there is one part where viewers will think to themselves, “Wait, what is that girl doing to Luna!?!”

Regardless of what’s going on, there’s a lot of good music to enjoy. Luna Varga’s soundtrack ranges from rock tunes to goofy music to subdued atmospheric pieces. Everything is appropriate to what is going on in the show, and it generally stays up tempo, adding to the excitement. The music was actually composed by Kenji Kawai (Ranma 1/2, Patlabor, Maison Ikkoku, Cosmos Pink Shock) so it doesn’t really come as a surprise that the soundtrack is so good.

While the story isn’t anything special, Luna Varga is a fun romp. The spectacle of a warrior princess fighting with her own personal Godzilla is a bit ridiculous, but it works. Meanwhile, it has some silly supporting characters, good tunes, and a nice mix of art styles. These OVAs essentially take a number of tried and true ingredients common to fantasy adventure anime, and mooshes them together with just enough of a gimmick to keep things interesting.

- IroIro
October 9, 2019
Studio: AIC
Released: 1991
Episodes: 4

Luna Varga Anime Image 1
VHS Cover

Luna Varga Anime Image 2
Luna and Jeune deciding what to do next

Luna Varga Anime Image 3
Varga in battle

Luna Varga Anime Image 4
Bat Robis has a big appetite