Megazone 23 (メガゾーン23 Megazōn Tsū Surī?) is a four-part original video animation created by AIC, written by Hiroyuki Hoshiyama, and directed by Noboru Ishiguro, Ichiro Itano, Kenichi Yatagai and Shinji Aramaki. The series was originally titled Omega Zone 23 (オメガゾーン23 Omega Zōn Tsū Surī?) before the title was changed just before release.
The events take place in a post-apocalyptic future, where Tokyo only exists as a simulated reality. The story follows Shogo Yahagi, a delinquent motorcyclist whose possession of a government prototype bike leads him to discover the truth about the city.
Shogo Yahagi lives in what appears to be 1980s metropolitan Japan. He meets Yui Takanaka and discovers her roommates are his friends Mai Yumekano and Tomomi Murashita. Shogo's old friend Shinji Nakagawa shows him a military prototype Garland motorcycle (labeled "Bahamut") that can reach over of 300 km/h. He barely escapes as Shinji is killed by unknown agents.
Shogo uses a public video phone to call Eve Tokimatsuri, a popular singer and TV host, during her show to expose the Garland to the public. The show's broadcast is cut off while Shogo shows Eve the bike (now painted red by a mechanic friend) and explains its capability. He escapes in another chase by agents and soon discovers it can also transform into a mecha.
Shogo helps Tomomi make an action film centered around the mysterious bike and has Yui hide the Garland at night. While looking for film locales, Shogo finds a secret entrance to a hidden, abandoned city and battles with some of the advanced fighters he encounters, most importantly with a military big shot named B.D.
After B.D. is nearly defeated, he informs Shogo about that Bahamut is a supercomputer that controls the events in this world, and that they are actually living on a spaceship, and that the real time is actually 500 years in the future. The military were developing new weapons underground to avoid Bahamut's detection, and that they have cleared "Level 6", Shogo shows mercy and leaves.
He then sneaks inside Eve's recording studio, and finds out that she is actually a computer simulated idol. In his anger at the state of the world, he nearly rapes Yui, but she supports and understands him anyway, and they have a romantic night. He confides in her everything he's learned about the world and watches martial law unfold on the city.
As the military clears "Level 7" of Eve's protection, B.D kills the Brass, manipulates the Prime Minister, and obtains financial support from the wealthy, notably Mai's father. Agents kill Tomomi and steal her master tapes, and a grief-stricken Mai returns to live with her father. Eve contacts Shogo through the Garland to ask him to help reactivate her reveals that the human race destroyed Earth, that there were actually 2 ships that left earth successfully and that Bahamut simulates the era of the 1980s because it was the most peaceful and full of love.
Shogo goes back to the underground city, and battles with the military, but is defeated by B.D., who returns Shogo's mercy by sending him back up to surface. Badly wounded, Shogo deserts the broken Garland and apparently walks back to Yui's place.
Shogo has been living underground for several months, hiding from the military and police. He teams up with the motorcycle gang "Trash" and reunites with Yui, who is part of the gang. While watching Eve's new music videos, Shogo sees her occasionally interrupt her video and ask for "Operator 7G", her codename for Shogo. In space, B.D.'s military has been fighting the alien race (the "Dezalg"), which uses an octopus-like penetrating weapon. As the fighting goes on, B.D. searches for Shogo, luring him into stealing another Garland. Shogo gets the Garland, escaping the trap, and uses it to contact Eve.
Trash has a showdown with the military in the city, where martial law is still in effect. In the battle, many of the members of Trash are wounded, including Yui. Lightning and Cindy help Shogo take Yui to Eve.
Shogo meets with Eve, who tries to heal Yui and reveals that Megazone is returning to Earth, but the planet has been protected by A.D.A.M. (Absolute Destruction of Available Mass), which is programmed to destroy anything approaching the Earth except a select subset of the population chosen by ADAM. Eve admits A.D.A.M. is beyond her control, but she wishes Shogo the best and sends him off to reunite with Cindy and Lightning of Trash. B.D. arrives, apparently to challenge Shogo, but B.D. admits his helplessness in his position and also wishes Shogo good luck.
A.D.A.M., determining that both the Dezalg ship and Megazone are hostile, destroys them. As Megazone 23 disintegrates, Eve sings a mournful dirge for the people who die aboard the ship. Eve manages to save a few survivors—among them Shogo, Yui and members of the Trash gang—by gathering them into the Bahamut tower. The tower serves as an escape capsule that jettisons the survivors from the dying Megazone and deposits them on a revived, re-greened Earth. Shogo deduces that the destruction will come soon, then sees Yui coming out of Eve's chamber. They start to step out of the building and see that they have landed on a peaceful Earth.
Part II is notable in abandoning the traditional anime style for more realistic looking characters. In addition, it contains more (if not most) explicit scenes of violence and sex than its predecessor & successors. The show also shows strong reference to cigarettes & beer consumption.
The Awakening of Eve
Eiji Takanaka is a hacker ("netjacker") and expert virtual gamer that hangs out in the virtual arcade, Psycholand. He starts working at C•X (E=X), the company, under the leadership of a mysterious Bishop Won Dai, that controls the shield and the city's information network, known as "The System." His friend Bud starts working at Orange, C•X's rival. Both friends play Orange's spacecraft simulator Cyber Game "_HARD ON¯" (possibly a reference to the Sega game Hang-On), that is actively sent updates and new levels by the company. Orange seeks to complete a network independent of The System, and it uses its games to train fighters unconsciously for its cause.
Eiji goes out with Ryo Narahara, who works at the arcade; together they discuss life in Eden and the songs of Eve, whom Eden's population knows to be an artificial intelligence. She lures him to use his hacker skills to find her contact information. He finds her information deleted when using his terminal, so he and Bud try to find it by hacking the network in Eden's alleys.
At C•X, director Yacob Halm gives a speech about the importance of The System and decries netjackers. Operator Miura Simka privately warns Eiji about his activities, about which she has evidence, but she lets him go because of his invaluable skills. Yacob directs Eiji to use a Garland to catch netjackers. He takes it home to customize it.
Ryo visits Eiji, and they discuss Sion, an operator at Orange that has been challenging Eiji with new versions of the game in real time. His apartment heats up and before it explodes, they escape through the window using the Garland. Sion hacks into the C•X network and finds a program called "Project Heaven." He and his HARGUN units attack Eiji and their Garland units in a battle that Eiji predicted would happen between the two companies. Eiji and Sion end up joining forces as Sion explains that he was testing Eiji to see if he can awaken Eve. The company forces still battle. Eiji takes the Garland under the city and finds Eve's capsule. Eve awakens and addresses Eiji as "Operator 7G."
Day of Liberation
Eve takes Eiji outside Eden to the ruins of Megazone to check on Bahamut and explains its control of Megazone and guidance back to Earth. They see Eden's outside machinery stretching out further to maintain the city. Eve activates Bahamut to run diagnostics on Eden, which reports status as normal. Eve wonders why Shogo did not wake her and asks Bahamut what happened to him. Bahamut directs her to the last remaining file on him in the next room, which contains the original Garland (from Part II) and a disk.
As Eve and Eiji return to Eden, Sion prepares to take over Orange from its leaders who only want to crush C•X. In the battle, Bud is brainwashed and fights for them but is killed in the process, despite Eiji's attempts to save him. They reach Bishop Won Dai, who they now know to be a Megazone survivor, to stop Project Heaven, which was planned to launch Eden into space to save Earth from humanity again. As the city starts to rumble in the execution of Project Heaven, Eiji shows Won Dai the disk, and he recognizes it and snaps out of his trance, realizing he has been connected to the system for too long. From his last words it is hinted that Bishop Won Dai actually turns out to be Shogo, though how he ended up in the system after Part II remains unknown. As he dies while Eiji attends to him, Eve takes the Bishop's place to stop Project Heaven as the program is within her. She kisses Eiji (and "Shogo") goodbye through the glass shield that now surrounds her and brings the city back down, opening it back to nature. The city core, now controlled by Eve, launches into the sky, leaving the rest of the city on Earth. Eve tells Eiji that she will pilot the core to the Moon to destroy ADAM as well, thus freeing humanity from all of its artificial computer overlords. After watching Eve rise into the sky, Eiji returns to the streets to find Ryo waiting for him and the fighting over.
- Shogo Yahagi (矢作 省吾 Yahagi Shōgo?)
The main character of Part I & II. Shogo is a reckless youth who begins to take on dire responsibility as he discovers the true nature of his world. His best friends are Morley Hiroki and Chombo. In part II he teams up with a gang of bikers to reach Eve and ends up on Earth along with his friends.
Voiced by: Kazuki Yao
- Yui Takanaka (高中 由唯 Takanaka Yui?)
An aspiring dancer who falls in love with Shogo, Yui lives in an apartment with two other girls, Mai Yumekano and Tomomi Murashita. Interestingly, Her last name is the same as the protagonist of the third part.
Voiced by: Maria Kawamura
- Mai Yumekano (夢叶 舞 Yumekanō Mai?)
Mai is a singer, songwriter, and keyboard player who comes from a rich family. Her father seems to be involved in the incident. She left after the murder of Tomomi. Notably, She is absent from Part 2, and her fate is left ambiguous.
Voiced by: Mayumi Shō
- Tomomi Murashita (村下 智美 Murashita Tomomi?)
Tomomi is an aspiring filmmaker and scriptwriter who likes beer. In Part 1, She is assassinated due to her latest film being about Shogo Yahagi.
Voiced by: Mina Tominaga
- Eve Tokimatsuri (時祭 イヴ Tokimatsuri Ivu?)
A popular singer in the city. In reality, Eve is part of a computer program named Bahamut which is supposed to keep the people of the city content, ignorant, and safe. Notably, In the second part, she helps Shogo learn his planned place in the world, and in the last part, the original Eve in person helps Shogo's replacement in the same way. Eve was the last original programmer to have survived.
Voiced by: Kumi Miyasato (Parts I and II)
Voiced by: Saki Takaoka (Part III)
- Shinji Nakagawa (中川 真二 Nakagawa Shinji?)
An old friend of Shogo Yahagi, Shinji has become a motorcycle test driver for a secret military program. Was killed by agents early in the show after separating with Shogo.
Voiced by: Kōichi Yamadera
A powerful military leader who is intent on taking control of the ship from Bahamut. B.D.'s plans become tenuous with the involvement of Shogo. He left Shogo alive returning a favour. In part 2 he directs the main operation while keen on hunting down Shogo. He left Shogo for his final battle after ADAM has been initiated.
Voiced by: Kaneto Shiozawa
He is the leader of the motorcycle gang Trash. In the second movie, Lightning has befriended Shogo and aids him with retrieving the Garland motorcycle. He also helps Shogo with his second, more organized raid on Bahamut.
Voiced by: Shigeru Chiba
Gutz is the muscle of the Trash gang. He helps Shogo and Lightning with their plan to confront the military and contact Eve.
Voiced by: Kozo Shioya
A member of Trash and the girlfriend of Lightning. Cindy befriends Yui and teaches her how to drive a motorcycle. Her appearance is deliberately modelled after the American pop singer Cyndi Lauper.
Voiced by: Yoko Ogai
- Lieutenant Shiratori
A soldier liaising with the Tokyo police investigating the Tomomi Murashita murder case. Holding high pride about his job. Shiratori has been tasked by B. D. to capture or kill Shogo and his companions and does not mind sacrificing his life.
Voiced by: Sho Hayami
- Eiji Takanaka
Main character of Part III. A hacker, top gamer, and motorcyclist who joined C•X. Attracted interests of Yacob & Scion and ended up taking the task as "Operator G7" originally by Shogo Yahagi to liberate the human race from computerized supervision. There is no apparent relationship between Eiji Takanaka and Yui Takanaka of the first two movies.
Voiced by: Takeshi Kusao
- Bishop Won Dai
The human interface of Eden City's "System" - a supercomputer that serves the same purpose as Bahamut. Won Dai has created an apocalyptic quasi-religion based on humanity's relationship with the planet Earth. Is later revealed to be a major character from the first two parts.
- Yacob Halm
The director of the C•X company and a zealous supporter of Project Heaven. Yacob answers only to Bishop Won Dai. Was killed in the original Garland while confronting Shogo.
Megazone 23 was conceived as a television series, but it was changed to a direct-to-video project after the sponsors withdrew their support mid-production. According to Noboru Ishiguro, the end result was a "compilation movie" of already produced episodes. Megazone was not conceived as a multi-part story. As such, the original release of "Part I" lacks the subtitle that has been added to subsequent re-releases.
The original planned title was "Omega City 23," then "Vanity City" and "Omega Zone 23," but trade mark issue compels title change. The number "23" was originally a reference to the 23 municipal wards of Tokyo. In the retroactive continuity established by Part III, the number refers to the 23rd man made city-ship, with Megazone 1 named "Big Apple". There is a commonplace habit in Western fandom to pronounce the title "Megazone Two Three" but given the meaning of the "23" in context, "Twenty Three" is more correct.
The Eve character also shares some distant similarities with fictional contemporary Max Headroom from the 1985 TV movie 20 Minutes into the Future and its TV series, both of which also feature the broadcaster, Network 23. No direct influence between Eve and Max is apparent, as the characters and universes are otherwise completely different.
"Part I" was spliced with The Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross by Carl Macek to create Robotech: The Movie in 1986. The new cut reestablished Shogo's character as Mark Landry  and included a new ending animated specifically for Robotech: The Movie.
The Japanese "International Edition" has an English-language voice cast that Carl Macek had orchestrated. The consequent adaptation rewrote Shogo as "Johnny Winters" and Yui as "Sue". This creates a continuity error, as the name that appears on her bike helmet remains unchanged. The International Edition also added a narration to the exclusive alternate footage from Robotech: The Movie; the retooled scene became an introduction to Part II.
Part III was only available on DVD in an 80 minute version in North America.
Megazone Part II International was released on laserdisc in Japan. It was not included in the out-of-print DVD Box Set, but was available as a bonus item to those who purchased all three installments individually. It is currently available as a Region 2 DVD bundled with the Limited Edition of the PS3 game Megazone 23: Aoi Garland.
In 2004, ADV Films released each installment of the series with a newly produced English dub and the original Japanese language track. The 2004 editions also contained extensive linear notes on the development of Megazone 23.
References to other media & culture
In Part I, the police that drove in pursuit of Shogo closely resembled Lupin and Daisuke Jigen from the series Lupin III, as director Noboru Ishiguro had worked on episodes of Lupin III Part II. Poster of movie Streets of Fire can also be seen. Strong reference of Coca Cola was also featured.
In Part I, when Mai comes home having been scouted by Tokimatsuri's directors, she throws a duffel bag labeled "Dagger of Kamui" onto a chair and almost hits the house cat.
In Part II, Trash members play a pinball machine that is covered in logos and characters from Thundercats and Silverhawks, which are cartoons animated by the same studio as the Megazone series, AIC. Also in Part II, the screen of a military computer briefly displays the words "Harrison Ford", "Blade Runner" and "Frank Baum", "Dorothy". Throughout the show there's strong reference of cigarette brands, in addition to Budweiser & Heineken beer.
In Part III, the Psycholand Video Arcade Employee database lists Yui, Tomomi, and Mai from Part I, as well as the surname Miyasato.
In other media
Character and vehicles from Megazone 23 appear in Super Robot Wars D for the Game Boy Advance.
- "緊急特報!!あの「マクロス」のスタッフがオリジナルビデオアニメに挑戦「オメガゾーン23」" [Breaking News!! The staff of "Macross" are challenging it with an original anime video "Omega Zone 23"]. My Anime (in Japanese) (Tokyo, Japan: Akita Shoten): 117. 1984. Unknown parameter
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- Part II International Edition intro clips (Originally from Robotech: The Movie)