Somewhat Less Perilous: MD Geist the Comic

Rarely do I get review requests for Ogiue Maniax, but when I was told to review MD Geist, I knew I had to take on the challenge.

MD Geist is somewhat of an anomaly in anime. Largely ignored in Japan, this OVA found success in the United States in the 80s and 90s and helped to define “anime” as something more adult (or at least indicative of hormonal teenagers). With the titular character eventually becoming the “face” of anime through his role as mascot and “spokesmecha” for the anime company Central Park Media, you will find that a certain generation of anime fans feels a close connection to the title. Years later Central Park Media would fund a sequel.

But wait, this isn’t actually a review of the MD Geist OVAs, but of the American-produced comic adaptation by artist and VOTOMS expert Tim Eldred. And through the lens of Mr. Eldred, interesting things happen.

Before I get into the comic though, I have to state what is a commonly-held truth in anime, restated time and again over the past few decades: MD Geist is bad. Its designs are unsuited for animation, its story is paper-thin, its action scenes are only really enjoyable on a surface level, and its characters are poorly realized. At the same time however, it is an enjoyable sort of bad. In many ways it represents a generation of mediocre straight-to-VHS anime.

But it’s difficult to recapture that sort of accidental magic. Tim Eldred understood this well, I assume, as he doesn’t try to bottle magic. Instead, he takes the patches strewn across the floor in disarray and attempts to sew them together into a complete quilt. He adds a back story, he adds character motives, he turns MD Geist into a “real” story rather than an incongruous facsimile of one.

The MD Geist comic is divided into two parts: an origin story for MD Geist and a retelling of the first OVA, with the intent to flesh out Geist’s character. Not only was he a “Most Dangerous Soldier,” but you learn why exactly he was imprisoned and about the woman who first assisted/controlled him. Through this, you get the same impression as one would reading fanfiction. I do not mean that negatively. One of the great strengths of fanfiction is that fans of a series can take the odds and ends of their favorite series and then speculate until their brainstorming session has gone far beyond the original source.

On its own, the MD Geist comic is decent. The only issue with that is that it comes at the expense of the extreme amounts of ridiculousness which pervade the source material to the extent that the original creators cannot even remember why they made any of their creative decisions (check the director’s commentary track on the DVD). Reading the comic over seeing the anime will get you a better story, but it won’t necessarily get you MD Geist.

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4 thoughts on “Somewhat Less Perilous: MD Geist the Comic

  1. Pingback: Why I read Ogiue Maniax at Otaku, No Video

  2. “Before I get into the comic though, I have to state what is a commonly-held truth in anime, restated time and again over the past few decades: MD Geist is bad. Its designs are unsuited for animation, its story is paper-thin, its action scenes are only really enjoyable on a surface level, and its characters are poorly realized. At the same time however, it is an enjoyable sort of bad. In many ways it represents a generation of mediocre straight-to-VHS anime.”
    So, let’s get it straight. It’s a 45 minute action movie that is bad despite that it’s enjoyable and has enjoyable action scenes?
    I’d disagree with such judgement.

    I’d say that M.D. Geist is a good action movie despite that animation gets pretty bad in few places. It has good (enjoyable) action scenes – some of them are pretty memorable like destroying the VtoL, fighting against mecha attacking the tank and the fight against the big bad boss robot. They also paint M.D. Geist as a fierce and unconventional warrior.
    There’s also plenty of gore and awesome music. It’s enough to make it a good short action movie. Action movies aren’t about a deep plot, character development, etc. they are about action. The same for length – when spending let’s say 45 minutes with about 12 people it wouldn’t be weird to see them as “cardboard cut-outs”.

    One thing that I find very appealing about M.D. Geist besides the action is the amorality of the setting. There aren’t any helpless civilians and good heroes visible. The world got completely destroyed by the conflict and most of people are dead. The only non-army people visible are the gangers which live as mercenaries and bandits.
    It’s impossible to say which side in the conflict is right and which is wrong – the conflict simply exists and is destroying the civilization.

    The protagonist doesn’t care. He “can’t stop he’s just a soldier” and his life is a “neverending wargame” – he’s a perfect protagonist for an action movie – he’s basically an embodiment of the human drive to violence. He doesn’t need any excuses like vengeance or someone close getting kidnapped.

    Vaiya is a survivor – she does everything to find herself a protector and gain profit.

    Crutz is a horrible asshole and part of the reason why the planet looks like it looks.

    I disagree that characters are poorly realized. There are scenes that characterize the main characters pretty well:

    M.D. Geist fighting in really weird and ferocious way, the scene where he kicks out Vaiya out of the bed, the moments he smiles, his fascination with warfare and tools of warfare and completely ignoring Vaiya beyond the information/management thing and finally releasing the Death Force

    Vaiya kicking the former boss as soon as he’s dead and quickly adopting a new protector, trying to seduce him, haggling with the general and arguing with him, having vain hopes about Geist.

    Crutz recognizing M.D. Geist, not wanting to pay anything to the gang, mysterious phrase (unit motto?) that M.D Geist says to him, trying to use Geist and finally attempting to kill him because he knows what kind of a person Geist is.

    I think it’s good enough characterization for a short action movie.

    Then there’s the story. I enjoyed it a lot mainly because how nihilist it is. The world is almost completely destroyed by some senseless war. Then the protagonist falls from the sky and starts looking for trouble. He becomes a leader of some random gang. He rejects advances of a beautiful woman. When looking for more trouble he accidentally saves a colonel that was trying to save the world from a doomsday weapon. He joins him and they end up attacking the doomsday weapon. Almost everybody dies and the colonel tries to kill him. Then he defeats a mega-boss, kills the colonel and releases swarms of killer robots just for the hell of it. It’s completely amoral and doesn’t have any deep sense. It just happens, just like the war.
    I don’t think I’d like M.D. Geist as much as I do with another story.

    As for the comic…
    I have found the first part pretty disappointing. Basically, the Anime build up much higher expectations for M.D. Geist’s savagery. I expected some serious mayhem at least on the level of the opening scene from the anime and it basically had a lot of talking and attempts at being “clever” instead. I dislike the concept of Geist not having initiative and basically just obeying orders. Somehow he doesn’t have such problem in the Anime where he becomes a leader.

    Then there’s the M.D. Geist comic itself. It has shown one more strong side of the anime – the “camerawork” – angles from which some scenes are shown (especially the ending) in the comic and pacing made me cringe.
    There’s a colossal difference in impact between the end scene in the movie and the last two pages of the comic book.
    I think they shouldn’t have wasted half of the book on mediocre fanfiction that is incompatible with the anime and should have broken up some scenes some more because the anime depended on “camerawork” a lot.

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  3. Your review is nonsense…end of story. I have been an artist for over 28 years. When I first saw the art style and mechanical designs in the OVA then later in the Comics, they blew me away. They were imaginative, colorful, and brilliantly executed for everyone that would understand what it was all about. And I am not talking about breaking it down intellectually and nit picking at it to pretend I am smart and write some bullshit online about how it is bad. You either “get it” or you don’t. Thats like asking a mentally retarded person what they think of the Declaration of Independence….it just isn’t going to happen. I’m sorry to tell you…you don’t get it. I will use your review to wipe my ass next time I have sit on the can. Come on! What were expecting trashing a classic like this lol.

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