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Tobira wo Akete

With the absolute deluge of anime that came out in the 80s, it’s easy to dismiss quite a lot of it as cynical cash grabs. There was just so much that came along and felt like it was all paint by numbers utilizing common character design styles, plot lines, character tropes, and so forth. It was easy to spot shows utterly devoid of passion, dreamt up and executed by people who for the most part didn’t care and were just collecting a pay check. That being said, there was the occasional show that used a lot of archetypes, popular art styles, and themes, but still managed to entertain. These anime may have been following a well-tread path, but they still managed to do so in a way that was enjoyable. Tobira wo Akete (Open the Door) did this very well. It told the story of some college students suddenly transported to another world then going on an adventure in a way that, while not at all original, still managed to be fun.

It tells the story of three college students, Miyako (nicknamed Neko-chan), Keichiirou, and Haruka, who each have special powers that set them apart from normal people. They’ve kept their abilities a secret from others, but when they meet up one night they are suddenly transported to another dimension. Here, Neko-chan is worshipped as the reincarnation of an ancient princess, prophesied to return one day and lead the people of that world to freedom from the oppressive Western Kingdom. At first, she’s a bit sceptical, but eventually accepts the role and slowly builds an army to fight the kingdom.

Much of what ensues is quite straightforward with a lot of action scenes as the war rolls on. Some events can be downright silly, though, just because they’re so telegraphed or, conversely, totally random. For instance, Neko-chan is met by a mysterious cloaked figure the moment she enters this new world. He looks super sketchy, but she lets him guide her early in her quest. The whole time, viewers can quickly surmise that he’s probably a villain who is up to something. As such, when he makes a return at the end of the movie and is trying to give a shocking, “Surprise! I’m actually the main bad guy!” viewers will just think to themselves, “Yeah, we know...” Meanwhile, there’s a scene where Neko-chan is challenged to a duel by a warrior princess named Dimida. If Neko-chan wins, the princess will help her along with providing aid from Dimida’s sizeable army. At first it looks like Dimida really hates Neko-chan, but mid-fight her opinion has a sudden, inexplicable about face, and the scene quickly shifts to the two girls playing dress up and having pillow fights. It’s very strange. That’s part of the charm of Tobira wo Akete, though. It has a certain “So bad it’s good quality” that kicks in from time to time adding a little extra to the decently passable, but not terribly inspiring story that carries the movie.

Tobira wo Akete sticks with an art style that was very popular during the mid 1980s. It's nothing special but gets the job done. Some of the character design is pretty great, though. Ladin, the main villain, looks super suspicious in his early meetings with Neko-chan, and his costume during their final showdown is pretty ridiculous. Meanwhile, Dimida’s design is actually quite nice as far tomboy-ish warrior princesses go. It’s also worth noting that there is some pretty nice scenery from time to time that lends itself well to the fantasy setting of the show as well as some interesting choices in wildlife, like the giant birds everyone uses as mounts, almost like proto-chocobos.

There isn’t anything new or groundbreaking in this anime. It just walks a line between being about average for a mid 80s fantasy adventure and being terrible. When it gets bad, the show can be downright stupid. However, that’s just part of its charm. While it won’t win itself any awards, Tobira wo Akete still manages to be decently entertaining for its roughly hour and a half runtime. Unlike a lot of other bad anime of the era, it feels like the people behind this show cared a bit more, and it managed to come through somewhat in the end.

- IroIro
December 3, 2019

More Anime from the 1980s that We've Discussed:

- Cosmos Pink Shock Anime Review

- Legend of Lemnear Anime Review

- Dominion Tank Police Anime Review

- Nayuta Anime Review

- Wanna Be's Anime Review
Directed by: Keizou Shimizu
Studio: Kitty Films / Magic Bus
Episodes: 1
Released: 1986

Tobira wo Akete Anime Image 1
VHS Cover Art

Tobira wo Akete Anime Image 2
Ladin doesn't look suspicious at all

Tobira wo Akete Anime Image 3
A pillow fight aftermath

Tobira wo Akete Anime Image 4
Neko-chan stabbing for justice