Ming the Merciless as a Lava-Walrus-Shark

 Anime, Cobra the Animation  Comments Off on Ming the Merciless as a Lava-Walrus-Shark
Jan 012012

Finally getting around to those Cobra OVAs from a couple of years ago. I’d seen the movie and both TV series, but kept forgetting to watch these things. I watched Time Drive first, and it was everything I love about this Cobra shit.

There’s a bunch of stuff about time travel and delving into people’s memories and other Inception-like shit, but that isn’t really what I dug about this OVA. Once Cobra travels back in time to when he first meets Lady, the whole thing plays out like the Jabba the Hutt scene from Return of the Jedi. Or better yet, like that scene from Flash Gordon where various nobles are presenting tribute to Ming the Merciless.

The main bad guy in this OVA is Gilos. He’s, like, the splitting image of Ganon from Legend of Zelda. The pig-faced ogre version, not the generic-looking black knight whatever from the more recent games. He has a particular fashion sense, sporting women dangling from leather straps as ornaments. He’s also roughly twenty feet tall, has a fetish for lava, is immortal, and can change into a shape that looks like what you’d get if you mated a walrus with a shark. It isn’t quite Jet Piranha levels of awesomenes, since nothing can be as elegantly badass as that, but this Gilos guy packs a gaudy punch.

So Gilos is holding court, taking tribute from various lords and dukes. Just like the sort of stuff that went down towards the beginning of Flash Gordon. And just like that movie, these dudes don’t take kindly to this asshole tyrant forcing them to pledge undying loyalty. Hell, one dude gives him a harp that grants immortality to those that hear it. Gilos is already immortal, yet he takes the thing all too willingly. Dude needs to learn how to moderate his wealth. I’m not saying he needs to give it all up, but dude, if you’re already immortal let some other ruthless bastard tyrant get a hold of this shit. Anyway, this dude giving tribute dares to utter an under-the-breath curse towards Gilos, and in a matter of seconds he’s being hurdled into Gilos’ lava pits. You can’t even vent your frustration without being put down.

I love these kinds of scenes. You get to see all manners of crazy shit go down in a matter of a few minutes. Like how in the Jabba scene, we saw all manners of strange aliens lining the background while tentacle-headed women gyrate to space disco, only to have said dancer be tossed to the Rancor for coping an attitude. Not only are we seeing some tidbits about the world and the freaked-out, imaginative shit that’s in it, we’re also getting the perfect scenario for the villain to show off just how nefarious he is. Jabba, Ming, and Gilos all put some rebellious fool down for the slightest of transgressions (Granted, in Flash Gordon, the dude actually tried to attack Ming, but it was largely symbolic.). It’s pure storytelling that gives an enormous amount of information about the characters and the world, but distilled down into a few minutes of craziness.

The OVA kinda peaks with that scene, but it’s more a matter of being incapable of retaining godhood once you’re lowered to mere demi-god status. Gilos has a mad scientist servant who gets off on turning people into bugs. He even has what we have to assume is a Human Centipede. But his nastiest experiment is how he takes one of Cobra’s token hot chick friends and turns her into a pill bug. On the surface it looks like your regular giant insect, but once you see the underbelly of the creature you see the girl’s body frozen. It looks like how Han was frozen in Carbonite, except she’s frozen in insect carapace. It’s a pretty freaky image. Good stuff there.

There’s also a living forest that heals Cobra after he has an encounter with a dude who can turn people into swords. It has your usual tentacle trees and fairies made of diamonds, but what makes this living forest unique is the man-eating water. This water isn’t just content with making you drown or washing you away down the current. It literally eats you. Opens up its mouth and devours you. So you get two of the worst ways of dying, drowning and being eaten alive, wrapped up in one monster.

The actual story was just alright. Lady, Cobra’s android partner in crime, is literally vanishing from time and space. Cobra takes her to a lady who can “dive” into people’s “time” (hence the title of the OVA) and Cobra goes along with her. This leads Cobra to the time when he first met Lady, and there’s a bunch of stuff where past Cobra and present Cobra are doing things at the same time and kinda screwing up each others’ plans. They actually see one another at one point, and all that happens is that present Cobra gives past Cobra a knowing smirk. It isn’t like they look like each other or anything, since this past Cobra is pre-face-reconfiguration. I dug how they didn’t make a big deal about paradoxes or anything like that. But yeah, once Cobra is in the past he’s able to find out what’s going on, save Lady, and return her to her proper place in the space-time continuum.

There’s some good convoluted stuff going on with the actual plot, but what makes this OVA truly good Cobra shit is all of the little details I talked about up above. If only we’d get more of these short 2-4 episode Cobra OVAs. I’d love it if we’d get one every year or so, much in the same way they do Lupin. Or maybe once every two years. Something like that. The world’s a better place when Cobra’s in it.