Otaku USA Magazine
The Vault of Error: Birth

Allow me to make this abundantly clear: everything you will ever read about Birth is a lie.

The ad copy on the back of the DVD case mentions a ruined world, a war between the planet Aqualoid and “an invading army of mechanical monsters”, and a “sacred sword” of indescribable power. None of this is true. What Birth actually contains is a planet that’s composed entirely of scenic New Mexico, a bunch of mentally-deficient robots, and a silver-plated MacGuffin that does… absolutely nothing.

This 1984 OVA opens with a big blue blob chasing a smaller yellow blob across the desert.  The remaining eighty-four minutes are pure nonsense, culminating in an ending so inscrutable it gives Space Runaway Ideon and Neon Genesis Evangelion a run for their money. I believe I’m to infer that Nam, the hero of this anime, is supposed to use SHADE, the aforementioned “sacred sword”, to defeat the Inorganics, a race of hostile but incompetent robots that are either a cancer on the galaxy or the predestined inheritors of the universe. It’s hard to know for certain with Birth.

Nam spends most of the OVA being pursued by a series of increasingly goofy enemies. His friend, Rasa, also known as “Jigglybutt”, is more concerned with Nam skipping breakfast than with the explosions detonating all around her; she spends most of the OVA ensuring that the camera gobbles up every angle of her rolly-polly rump. One painstakingly animated (but ultimately pointless) chase sequence leads to the next, and numerous ludicrous vehicles make an appearance, ranging from Rasa’s bootylicious floater-bike to the inexplicable Pony 7, an ungainly combination of unicycle and hover-jet. Then the whole planet explodes in a cataclysm of fiery doom, everyone dies (or do they?), a pair of alien princesses have a lovely afternoon tea, and the credits roll. I spent the entire viewing process with an incredulous expression riveted to my face. By the end of Birth only a single question remained:

What the hell did I just watch?

And why the hell did anyone, from the lowliest animation runner to the store clerk who sold me this DVD, ever spend a second of precious, precious life or a penny of precious, precious money on this shuddering claptrap? The Internet’s Mike Toole once confided that Birth was a purchase worth “exactly five dollars.” No more, no less. Like everything related to Birth, this statement was a scandalous fabrication, a razor-lined mendacity made all the more cutting by the fact that seven years ago I spent ten bucks on this disc.

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that Birth is a cruel joke. The director, Shinya Sadamitsu, is best known for his work on Shinesman and Dragon Half. Somehow Sadamitsu suckered a who’s who of budding young animators and seasoned professionals (including Hideaki Anno and Yoshinori Kanada) into drawing hundreds of luscious desert-scapes and animating kinetic scenes of action and sequences of lovingly-rendered destruction. Somehow he tricked Joe Hisaishi into composing the score. And someone conned John Ledford of the now-defunct A.D. Vision into licensing and releasing this beautiful mess.

And make no mistake, much of Birth looks beautiful. But the character designs are indulgent, the tone is inconsistent, and the stakes of the story are nonexistent. The humor that peppers the plot is more distracting than funny. An example: at one point, a towering enemy robot has chased our motley crew of merchants and teenage kids into the ruins of an underground city devastated by nuclear war. The colossal Inorganic scours the city for fleshlings to destroy, pausing long enough to peer into a skyscraper, where a pair of skeletons are frozen forever in mid-coitus. Earlier, a different killer robot unleashed devastating attacks while screaming the names of fruits and vegetables in Japanese and English. Ah, ha, ha, ha ha ha. How droll.

Do not watch this OVA. If you see it on a shelf at a convention or a brick-and-mortar store, do not buy it. Do not even look at it; avert your eyes and calmly walk away. And don’t look back, lest you inadvertently reenact that scene in Raiders of the Last Ark where the Ark of the Covenant melts a bunch of Nazis’ faces.  If you own a copy, do not open it.  If you already opened a copy of Birth, do not place it in your DVD player.  Instead, place it in a DVD player belonging to a mortal enemy; in less than a week they will be a sniveling, broken shell of a human being.

Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to seal this disc in concrete and find the deepest mineshaft in the world to drop it down, so that future generations might not be subjected to the trauma that is Birth.

Distributor: A.D. Vision
Originally released: 1984
Running Time: 85 minutes