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Space Fantasia 2001 Nights

Over the course of the twentieth century, science fiction evolved quite a bit. Today, we’re still seeing the impact that ideas from the 80s and 90s had with the prevalence of dystopian cyberpunk worlds, giant robots, and spacefaring civilizations in modern anime. In the mid 1980s, an interesting anime OVA came along that bucked this growing trend, instead choosing to embrace the golden age of science fiction, an era where authors had a much more optimistic, explorative attitude toward humanity travelling to the stars. Space Fantasia 2001 Nights captures this feeling as it follows generations of the Robinson family during a time when Earth is flirting with the idea of interstellar travel.

The whole feel of this anime is very different from just about any other set in space. There’s no conflicts between Earth and aliens or colonies or whatever. It just so happens that a comet is coming close enough to the Earth that it would be possible to use it to travel to another solar system and attempt to colonize it. With that a couple known as the Robinsons are chosen to provide sperm and eggs that will be frozen on the vessel then used to create humans when the ship reaches its destination. Eventually there are about two dozen children born and raised by the ship’s robots that will inhabit the lush, green planet that they are orbiting.

As the show progresses, viewers see how other generations of the Robinson family also play into getting this colony on its feet and interacting with it. There are some interesting plot twists that arise relating to different types of space travel that are developed, which are quite nice and would be spoiler-ific to mention here. The final chapter of the OVA really brings things together nicely and appears to be inspired by Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Songs of Distant Earth”.

While only an hour long, Space Fantasia 2001 Nights is a refreshing change of pace from all of the conflict-driven science fiction anime out there. In this show, there are no heroes or villains. It’s simply about humanity reaching out to the stars with the universe being the ultimate manifestation of the majesty of nature. It’s huge and both wondrous and foreboding.

Even the art direction is a little bit different with character design going for a more realistic look than the majority of anime during that time. What makes Space Fantasia stand out, though, is how much of its technology is designed. Space vessels, robots, and other assorted contraptions all have a styling to them that looks like it could have come out of a 1950s Isaac Asimov novel. These things have a very different aesthetic compared to other popular sci-fi anime of the time.

Meanwhile, the show’s music is very appropriate for the what’s going on. Much of the soundtrack is comprised of atmospheric ambient tracks. The music really captures what was going on with this genre in Japan during the 1980s with a style similar to what the likes of Hiroshi Yoshimura, Motohuko Hamase, and Takashi Kokubo were doing at the time. It’s hard to put into words how their music sounded exactly, but it had a bit of a whimsical, otherworldly feel that really resonated in the 80s.

Ultimately, Space Fantasia 2001 Nights is a very straightforward story. Its appeal is how different it is from a lot of other anime in the 1980s. People looking for a more cerebral tale set in the future, devoid of conflict may want to check this out. It has a story worth watching and deserves far more attention than it has received over the years.

- IroIro
December 8, 2019

More 1980s Outer Space Anime that We've Discussed:

- Cosmos Pink Shock Review

- Maris the Chojo Review

- Megazone 23 Review

- Outlanders Review

Directed by: Yoshio Takeuchi
Studio: TMS Entertainment
Released: 1987
Episodes: 1

Space Fantasia 2001 Nights Image 1
Cover Art

Space Fantasia 2001 Nights 2
The Robinsons

Space Fantasia 2001 Nights 3
The colony ship

Space Fantasia 2001 Nights 4
Children of the colony