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Phantom Yuusha Densetsu

Now here’s an OVA not worth spending any time on. Phantom Yuusha Densetsu is an exercise in ticking boxes for everything that defined more “mature” anime of the 80s and early 90s. It had a gritty story (but don’t give it much thought lest the plot holes reveal themselves), nudity, and some gory deaths. What the show didn’t have was a single redeeming quality, because it’s just soul-crushingly dull. That this anime is so bad is a bit of a surprise given it was by Magic Bus who also worked on Legend of the Galactic Heroes and They Were Eleven. The studio was clearly capable of quality work, yet they vomited out this. In the end, this show is what it is, a complete waste of time.

Phantom Yuusha Densetsu tries to weave the tale of an underhanded government agency secretly selling off F-4 Phantoms. When an incident would happen during training maneuvers and the plane presumed lost, it would turn out that the plane was actually fine. From there, those involved would quietly ship it off to the highest bidder. This is where the anime’s protagonist, Yazawa, comes in. He was the pilot of one of these planes for the Japanese military. However, he eventually suffered a crash and retired from service, his plane sold off. His friend from an airplane magazine asks him to come with him to El Salvador to investigate some mysterious planes, which turn out to be smuggled F-4s, and this is when Yazawa stumbles across this arms trade of fighter planes. The rest of the OVA pits Yazawa and his friends against crooked government agents and an arms smuggling ring as he tries to put a stop to their business.

Unfortunately, there’s just nothing about the plot that will grip most viewers. It’s all very rote cloak and dagger fair presented in a paint by numbers fashion, dressed up with uninspiring cookie cutter characters. At times, it feels like even the producers realized this and would add the occasional sex scene in hopes of distracting viewers from how boring the actual story was. This does nothing to save Phantom from itself. About the only enjoyable moment in the show is the climax at the end where Yazawa and a friend pilot an F-4 into Tokyo and use its machine gun to mow down all the villains at once. Even then, it’s only interesting for how quintessentially 80s this over the top end was. The show was actually based on a series of novels in Japan, so maybe the story was better fleshed out in those. However, what was presented in less than an hour here wasn't at all engaging.

Visually, the show isn’t anything special. Much of the art is fairly typical 80s anime with a more mature twist. Everyone looks a little old, though, even Yazawa’s love interest who is apparently 23 but looks like she’s in her 30s. The villains are kind of fun, though, as the artists did a good job of making them look like particularly unpleasant individuals, especially the corrupt government official. His beady eyes and huge cigarette puffing lips really drove home how bad he was.

Unfortunately, there just isn’t much to be said regarding Phantom Yuusha Densetsu. It’s simply a boring, unremarkable OVA lost to the sands of time. It’s not even so bad that it’s good. There are countless better ways to spend one’s time than bothering with this show.

November 7, 2019
Directed by: Satoshi Dezaki
Studio: Magic Bus
Released: 1991
Episodes: 1

Phantom Yuusha Densetsu Image 1
VHS Cover

Phantom Yuusha Densetsu Image 2

Phantom Yuusha Densetsu Image 3
Vincent, the primary arms dealer