Its mechanical designs were created by Kunio Okawara and Studio Submarine for the TV series, with additional designs by Higuchi Yuuichi for the animated movies. The characters were designed by Tomonori Kogawa.
Space Runaway Ideon begins in 2300, far enough in the future that mankind has begun colonizing other planets. On the planet Solo in the Andromeda Galaxy, a group of archaeologists had come across the mysterious remains of the Ideon—three large armored trucks with the ability to transform into a godlike mecha. They also come across a large spaceship, known as the Solo Ship. For six months they had diligently restored the machines but failed to get the giant tanks to move. Suddenly, a humanoid alien civilization known as the Buff Clan comes across Solo.
Karala, the daughter of the Buff Clan's military commander flies down to the planet against orders with her assistant Mayaya to investigate (her commanding officer, Gije, is reluctant with her, due to her standing and the fact that he once was a soldier under her father). She is pursued closely by comrades sent by Gije, but they lose sight of her. Assuming the "aliens" (Earthling colonists) have attacked Karala, the Buff Clan begins to attack. Cosmo Yuki, the afro-wearing protagonist of the series, and his friends Kasha Imhof and Deck Afta climb aboard the three tanks, which activate on their own, and, when they initially form the Ideon, fend off the first assault, repelling Gije's men.
This is a short respite, though, as another force is sent down soon after. Bes Jordan, leader of the sparse military force stationed with the colonists orders that the Ideon tanks be armed with missiles, but while that's happening the cities on Solo are obliterated by the Buff Clan soldiers. Gije and his partner Damido, meeting up with the leader of their expedition, Abadidi Gurimade soon launch more attacks on the planet Solo in an attempt to capture the Ideon (which they refer to as the 'Giant God'). The survivors flee inside the Solo Ship and Karala, who was mistaken by Bes as a colonist is let aboard as well. Other civilians who quickly get aboard the Solo Ship include Sheryl Formosa, a linguist studying the civilization on Solo, Sheryl's sister, Lin; Banda Lotta; three children: Piper Lou, Ashura Nobaku and Fard Maraka; mechanic Joliver Ira, pilot Hatari Naburu and Moera Fatima. The pilots Tekuno and Bento soon join Cosmo and Kasha as pilots of the Ideon's 3 parts and Moera soon replaces Bes as another pilot. Karala and Mayaya are soon discovered to be aliens and while Mayaya is shot to death, Bes has taken a liking to Karala and she is allowed to live, although Sheryl and others distrust her. Karala tells everyone of the Legend of Ide, a story of the Buff Clan's savior, who saved them with the power of Ide. The Buff Clan have searched the universe for this legendary existence, which is what powers both the Ideon and the Solo Ship.
The Solo Ship soon flees the planet Solo using its powerful DS Drive engines and after a fight in sub space with the Buff Clan arrive at the Planet Saurus Star. Bes, Cosmo and the others confront Gije in a powerful Dogg Mack Mobile Suit and later in man to man fighting. Abadidi receives orders from above - Karala's elder sister Harulu that they no longer have to worry about harming her and could kill Karala if need be, since she has ashamed the Ajiba family by associating with the humans. The Buff Clan force chases the Solo Ship to the planet Crystal Star where Abadidi heads out himself in a Dogg Mack. His attempts to destroy the Solo Ship with giant winged creatures known as Bajins backfires and it is he who is killed by them. With Abadidi dead and Damido injured Harulu herself heads to the front. Arriving on the planet Ruins Star, Karala tries to make peace with her sister but is humiliated by Harulu's underlings. Things get even worse for her when Banda Lotta, upset by all the harm the Buff Clan has caused tries to kill her but folds under pressure. Karala willing to die impresses everyone on the Solo Ship with her strength.
The Solo Ship arrives at an Earth base where Cosmo meets Camyula, a female officer who reminds him of his mother. She soon dies right in front of him which renews his desire to fight. Damido, now recovered makes one final attempt to destroy the Ideon but is killed as well. The Solo Ship heads to the planet Ajian and when Gije attacks the planet the Ideon uses its powerful Black Hole Cannon, which prevents the Buff Clan's missiles from hitting the planet, but destroys a lot of the planet as well. Gije heads back to the Buff Clan homeworld as the Solo Ship travels to the planet Flag Star. The Solo Ship and Harulu's Dorowa Zan meet in space and the Dorowa is destroyed. Harulu flees in an escape capsule and meets up with Daram Zuba, a former lover and member of the Ome Foundation, which is plotting with Harulu and Karala's father, Doba, to overthrow the Buff Clan Emperor. With Gije with him Daram now becomes the main adversary of the Solo Ship as it goes to the planet Kyaral. There Cosmo meets Kitty Kitten who desires for the Solo Ship to flee since it will bring nothing but more heartbreak to their wartorn planet. Kitty is shot to death soon after by Daram and Cosmo is injured, saved only by a blood transfusion from Karala.
The Solo Ship, still pursued by Daram approach Earth but find that their fellow Earthlings will not welcome them. Sheryl and Joliver head to the moon to use the Earth Military's powerful Gloria computer and discover that the power of Ide is infinite. The Solo Ship is attacked yet again and the Ideon uses its newest weapon, the Ideon Gun to defend itself. The 3 children sneak aboard the Ideon in their latest battle with the Buff Clan's Barume Baram Mobile Weapon but this becomes an unforeseen benefit as the reaction of the children in danger make the Ideon even more powerful and yet another weapon, the Ideon Sword is revealed. Gije, abandoned by Daram meets Sheryl and sneaks aboard the Solo Ship. Few trust him even after he kills Daram in a battle on Earth. The Earth military completely rejecting them, the Solo Ship flees without a home to go back to.
The Buff Clan continues to send high ranking Buff Clan Officers after the Solo Ship, but all fail. Moera is killed in battle to the distress of everyone, especially medic Rapot. Gije takes his place as one of the Ideon's pilots. The Solo Ship returns to Ajian who now despises them for what happened earlier in the series and their military leader takes hostages, killing Sheryl's sister Lin before he is stopped. The Solo Ship flees to the planet Steckin Star and Gije is killed when the Ideon is heavily damaged. The Ideon continues to get more and more powerful as the battles and deaths escalate and the Ideon chops the entire planet in half as it makes its escape.
With repeated failure by his military leaders, Doba Ajiba himself heads out on the Buff Clan flagship, Bairal Jin along with the Ome Foundation leader, Gindoro. The Buff Clan is quickly finishing its work on the Ganda Rowa, a powerful warship that might be even more powerful than the Ideon. Karala and Joliver suddenly find themselves transported to the Bairal Jin and are caught by Doba and his men. Karala reveals that she is pregnant with the child of an Earthling's (Bes's) to the shock of everyone and they make their escape. The Solo Ship heads there to save them and do as Karala and Joliver survive despite their ship being shot down. The Solo Ship flees under pursuit of many Buff Clan troop and Harulu sends out her top fighters, Tororof and Kilarul in the Zanza Lubu. Sheryl, knowing that the Ide desires to protect children brings out Piper Lou onto the deck of the ship in order to strengthen the Ideon and the force of the Ideon gun blows her right off the ship to her death, reuniting her with her beloved Gije. Karala saves Piper Lou and the Solo Ship escapes from them, for now.
On the bridge of the Solo Ship Karala reveals to everyone else that she's pregnant, with a child that Cosmo and the others call a Messiah. Kilarul and Tororof head back to Harulu telling her that Karala and her unborn child are whats manifesting the Ide so she decides to both prevent its birth and stop this from happening by killing Karala. The Zanza Lubu is destroyed in battle but the three make their way on to the Solo Ship. Tororof is killed by Banda Lotta, who is killed shortly after by Kilarul. Karala reveals herself and is shot in the face by Harulu, who flees immediately after. It isn't long before the two of them are annihilated by the Ideon's powerful Gun.
Meanwhile, meteors strike both the Earth and the Buff Clan Homeworld reducing them to uninhabitable wastelands. Gindoro, afraid of the Ideon wants to flee and refuses to listen to Doba, getting shot to death for it. Doba, angry with the deaths of his daughter has the Buff Clan military force continue to attack the Solo Ship as it approaches the Ganda Rowa. In the ensuing battle Kasha is killed by debree and Buff Clan soldiers make their way to the Solo Ship bridge, killing Hatari, Rapot, Ashura and Fard. Bes is shot in the neck and dies soon after. Doba doesn't care about sacrificing everyone's lives as long as the Ideon is destroyed and is killed by his own soldiers because of it. The Ideon grapples onto the Ganda Rowa which fires, killing everyone aboard both the Ideon and the Ganda Rowa, and destroying the Solo Ship. The Ideon and Gando Rowa are also destroyed, creating an epic blast that grows larger and larger, engulfing and destroying the surrounding planets...
The naked souls of everyone, Buff Clan and Earthlings peaceful at last, ascend through space. Karala's baby, the 'Messiah', leads everyone to a new planet in the universe.
Like Mobile Suit Gundam before it, the series originally met with rather low ratings and was cancelled after only 39 of its scheduled 43 episodes aired. As a result, the producers were forced to insert a short segment at the end of the final episode that ended the series in the middle of the action. Demand for a release of the final unaired episodes followed the show's cancellation, and two movies were produced to end the series.
The two movies, The Ideon: A Contact and The Ideon: Be Invoked, were produced by Sanrio and released as a double bill by Shochiku in 1982. A Contact featured clips from the first 32 episodes of the TV series interspersed with newly animated footage. In addition a few new scenes, the movie also created new death scenes for character such as Damido, Mayaya and Daram. Be Invoked featured a modified version of the final episode of the TV series (removing the ending sequence), in addition to those episodes that never aired, finishing off the Ideon saga once and for all.
"Kill 'em All"
The apocalyptic ending of Be Invoked was unexpected by many and cemented director Yoshiyuki Tomino's "Kill 'em All" reputation. Characters on both sides of the final fight were given gruesome and shocking death scenes: a very young character being decapitated by gunfire, for instance, was seen as particularly shocking at the time. Be Invoked features the destruction of the Ideon, the death of the entire cast, and a large planet, which resembles Saturn. Their reincarnation is also shown, as fits the series' themes of death and rebirth.
Amusingly, Tomino himself has stated in an issue of Newtype that although Ideon is one of his favorite works, he himself wonders sometimes how he could come up with such a depressing ending at the time. Tomino tended to do this often because he often wished to never make sequels to his work. Although usually in his mass death endings there is at least a chance for a follow-up, this cannot be said about Ideon.
The influence of Ideon on Japanese animation, despite its rough beginnings and infamous ending, has been considerable. At one time it was rated #10 among the greatest anime series as compiled by famous anime magazine Animage (counting popularity, influence, and opinion). On the other hand, the series has never been very popular, even among Japanese mecha fans.
Space Runaway Ideon is a predecessor-of-sorts to Hideaki Anno's Neon Genesis Evangelion and deals with many of the same issues. The Neon Genesis Evangelion series also ends in a similar fashion, with two theatrical releases: the first part (Death) being composed largely of clips from the already-released episodes, and the second part (Rebirth/The End of Evangelion) made up of new animation devolving into apocalyptic territory much like that of Be Invoked, right down to overtones of rebirth.
In many ways, Ideon was a first of its kind. It has been considered to be the prototype of the modern dark and twisted science fiction anime such as the above-mentioned Neon Genesis Evangelion, Akira and Tomino's own bleak Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. Although it is debatable as Mobile Suit Gundam is often considered the first anime to show a truly grittier side of science fiction, Ideon undeniably has a very distinct presentation and plot style which had never been seen before, specifically with the series' emphasis on making the audience feel for the characters and their struggle against a hopeless scenario as opposed to just watching the Ideon do battle or feeling for the overall theme.
The Ideon is portrayed as a very destructive device in terms of raw destructive power. Although it is, at first, a rather humble weapon in comparison to other mecha, brandishing only an array of missiles and a double barreled energy cannon called the Glenn Cannon on its abdomen as well as limited melee and defensive shields, this changes gradually as the series progresses and the protagonists delve further into the Ideons' secrets.
The Ideon’s overall performance increases to incredible heights of speed, durability, and power; even its most basic weapons increase their potency dramatically such as the cinematic "All Missiles" attack where all of the Ideon's now Ide-powered missiles are launched simultaneously at great speeds destroying literally fleets of ships in one attack. Without a doubt, Ideon's destructive power reaches godlike status when three distinct weapons are discovered:
- Black Hole Cannon, which as the name implies, creates a miniature black hole capable of massive destruction. This weapon is only used once in episode 18.
- The Ideon Sword, a beam of pure light emitted from each of Ideon's hands. While the beam's destructive power is immense (even cleaving an entire planet in half at one point), its most peculiar quality is its length. While adjustable, the maximum length of the sword is depicted as being quite possibly infinite. It first appeared in episode 29.
- The Ideon Gun (a.k.a. the Wave Leader Cannon), a massive blue cannon directly powered by the Ideon's Ide energy to produce an enormous white wave of energy which destroys literally anything in its path in a forty five-degree angle, including star ships and planets. This cannon's initial use is so awesome that the crew are very wary of using it. It first premiered in episode 28.
The Buff Clan are humans native to the planet Buff in the Gido Nebula of the Andromeda Galaxy. Throughout the series they use a variety of war vehicles and robots called Heavy Mobile Mecha. These forces are listed in order from appearance and all of them are capable of flying.
- Gataman Zan: A tan capital ship, it is the primary attack ship that hounds the Solo Ship throughout the series.
- Copela: Tan saucer-like ships used for aerial combat in atmospheres that are armed with a pair of beam cannons and a pair of machine guns.
- Dekka Bau: Purple aerial fighters armed with missile launchers in their sides, four lasers on their tops, a single warhead on their front, and a machine gun on each wing.
- Gil Bau: A purple variation of copelas armed with a pair of beam guns, electromagnetic cables with hooks, and missiles from the underside.
- Giran Dou: A gray tripod heavy mobile mecha equipped with a particle launch in its "eye" that fires green energy rings and has missile launchers for hands.
- Dogu Mack: A blue tripod heavy mobile mecha equipped with an electric whip for the right arm, a pincer claw for the left arm, a pair of laser cannons on the head, a 4-tube missile launcher in the torso, and a detachable pod. It is one of the only heavy mobile mecha not to be duplicated or mass produced.
- Gram Zan: A white battleship armed with missiles and uses a space null drive. It only appears in episode 9.
- Dorowa Zan: A forest green capital ship that joins the Gataman Zan. It possesses a null space drive and is armed with scattering beam cannons on its underside and missiles.
- Zlow Jick: Purple star fighters with tiny remote recon planes, machines guns, and can store three attack pods on itself. These pods are armed with a 4-tube missile launcher, a pair of beam guns, can emit tracking devices, and later given electromagnetic hook cables identical to gil baus.
- Zig Mack: Brown bipedal heavy mobile mecha that resemble the Goggs from Mobile Suit Gundam armed with three particle cannons in the torso, pincer claws that when used are literally referred to as the '"Claw Attack", and later are armed with a particle launcher identical to the Giran Dou.
- Gondo Bau: Green space fighters armed with a pair of 4-tube missile launchers, a pair of beam guns on the underside, and eight electric claw-like anchors that emit electricity.
- Sades Zan: A jade green battleship armed with beam cannons that briefly joins the Gataman Zan and Dorowa Zan for only two episodes.
- Rogg Mack: Green shelled variations of the zig mack armed with missiles from their shell, can emit electricity upon ramming opponents, and can fire yellow lasers from its four "eyes". They are also much faster than other heavy mobile mecha.
- Ganga Lubu: Purple tripod heavy mobile mecha used by mercenaries armed with missiles and beam cannons in the torso and the left arm is a 5-tube missile launcher that can also launch electric cables. The beam cannons are made of Dovian Particles which deteriorate force fields.
- Gadakka: Silver aerial fighters used by mercenaries armed with underside missiles.
- Gabro Zan: A green battleship used by mercenaries armed with missiles.
- Dero Zan: A tan battleship armed with missiles. It only appears in episode 25.
- Garowa Zan: A replacement of the Gabro Zan armed with lasers.
- Galbo Jik: Gray heavy mobile mecha armed with missiles,lasers, two pairs of grapple claws, and a sonic beam called the Gel Beam that destroys brain cells. They also split into three parts.
- Barume Baram: A purple unmanned heavy mobile mecha that could split and crush opponents with a gel zone much like that of Galbo Jiks and is said to have a gel barrier. It was never duplicated or mass produced.
- Adigo: Green bipedal walkers resembling shelled rogg macks armed with a pair of beam guns, an enhanced particle cannon, missiles from the back, and electric cables. They also proved to be extremely agile.
- Abzonol: A green heavy mobile mecha similar to the galbo jik armed with four cables that drain energy and are protected by an energy field.
- Gadomowa Zan: A green capital ship that chases the Solo Ship once it is forced to leave Earth and is armed with missiles from its underside and a pair of beam cannons on each wing.
- Killot Zan: A white supply ship armed with five beam cannons and missiles and possesses a null space drive.
- Gido Mack: Teal ship-like heavy mobile mecha armed with four grapple claws and missiles along the midsection. They also split in half.
- Bairal Jin: An extremely large fortress-like ship armed with gun turrets, missiles, and lasers all over itself. Its overall size is comparable to that of a megalopolis.
- Gita Zlow: Small green battleships armed with missiles and a double barreled energy turret on the bridge.
- Gadal Rou: White aerial fighters armed with electromagnetic hook cables and a pair of beam guns at the nose.
- Zanza Lubu: A silver variant of the Ganga Lubu that appears in Be Invoked. It is only armed with pincer claws.
Links to Gundam
Space Runaway Ideon shares a number of similarities to Tomino’s Mobile Suit Gundam series. As well as similar initial fates for both series (cancellation followed by films – though Ideon never became a long-running franchise as Gundam did), there are several broad similarities in the make-up of the characters and some reused plot devices (such as a teenage electronics expert climbing onboard a powerful robot when his home colony is attacked by aggressors).
More explicitly, Tomino included several references to his previous work - a Haro appears in an exploding Solo colonist fighter in the second episode; Amuro Ray himself makes an appearance in episode 6 along with Tomino himself as the Solo Ship's crew gathered to plan their next move (although he doesn't say anything and is very easy to miss); in episode 7 Karala refers to a nebula named the "Gundam Nebula"; and a poster of Char appears in episode 18.
Tomino himself would make two cameo appearances in Ideon. The first was in episode 6. His second appearance would be near the end of ‘’Be Invoked’’, appearing in a spacesuit on the Solo Ship's bridge with storyboard illustrations in his hands. Fittingly, Tomino himself is killed in the film.
|Cosmo Yuki||Yoku Shioya||Bes Jordan||Hideyuki Tanaka|
|Kasha Imhof||Fuyumi Shiraishi||Karala Ajiba||Keiko Toda|
|Sheryl Formosa||You Inoue||Gije Zaral||Kazuo Hayashi|
|Deck Afta||Tatsuya Matsuda||Lotta Banda||Eiko Yamada|
|Moera Fatima||Hideki Sasaki||Rapoh Famu||Kimiko Tsuruta|
|Lin Formosa||Keiko Yokozawa||Ashura Novak||Masako Matsubara|
|Fard Malaka||Sanae Takagi||Joliver Ira||Shiozawa Kaneto|
|Harulu Ajiba||Youko Asagami||Doba Ajiba||Takkou Ishimori|
|Damido Pechi||Banjou Ginga||Daram Zuba||Shojiro Kihara|
|Gindoro Jinma||Seizo Katou||Kitty Kitten||Rumiko Ukai|
The home video releases of Ideon have all had very limited production runs. The series' first DVD box was overproduced, resulting in many units that did not sell even years after the release, so the second boxset and movie boxset had much fewer units produced. As a result, they sold out quickly and it was not uncommon to see the second boxset alone command a price of over 80,000 yen used on such websites as Yahoo! Japan auctions or amazon.co.jp, or all three boxsets sell for over 120,000 yen (over $1,000 USD), a remarkable feat for 38 episodes and 2 movies. (For reference, the retail price on the 153 episode Dragon Ball boxset sold new for 100,000 yen, $800 USD.)
In 2006 Ideon was re-released on single DVDs, but the singles, like previous Ideon releases, went quickly out of print due to a low production run.
The series has no Western license as of 2009.
Super Robot Wars Video Games
The titular mecha, characters, and other aspects of Space Runaway Ideon also make appearances in two of the Super Robot Wars series of anime mecha crossover video games: Super Robot Wars F Final and 3rd Super Robot Wars Alpha.
Reflecting its status in animation, the Ideon is considered one of the most powerful mecha ever featured within the "SRW" games. Ideon has a gauge, known as the "Ide Gauge", which increases as Ideon is attacked. As the Ide Gauge rises, Ideon's general capabilities increase dramatically (including Ideon's "EN" becoming infinite) and the unit unlocks three weapons: Zen-houi (All Directional) Missile, Ideon Sword, and Ideon Gun (the latter two are available in both a "normal" version and a MAP version). The Ideon Gun is particularly powerful; along with an attack power of 9999, enough to destroy most lesser enemies in one hit, the MAP version has a massive blast radius which often almost covers the battlefield. It is one of the most dangerous attacks in the Super Robot Wars series. However, when the Ide gauge reaches the maximum level, the Ideon becomes uncontrollable and goes berserk, destroying the universe by self-destructing, which means the end of the game. Hence, while absorbing attacks can rise the Ide Gauge and let the player to use those devastating weapons, there is a great risk that the Ideon will be attacked for too many times and go berserk.
Although rather difficult and dangerous to use in Super Robot Wars F, in 3rd Super Robot Wars Alpha the Ideon is possibly quite overpowered due to its massively increased ease of use. The 'berserk' system is also removed.
In 3rd Super Robot Wars Alpha, the apocalyptic ending of Ideon is one of three possible endings in the game and is arguably the worst of them all. This ending is triggered during scenario 56, the final Ideon scenario. If a certain decision is made by the player, the tragic events of the Ideon finale play out with an unavoidable conclusion. All pilots on your force even state comments of hopelessness as they attack anything when this ending is triggered, to further the feeling of dread upon the horizon. This ending is only available upon the second playthrough, and while it is something most players should see at least once, it also ends the overall game earlier than usual (The actual game length is 60 levels), and also doesn't count as a finished game, so it is recommended in most cases that this ending be avoided. The only significant benefit of seeing this ending is getting a glimpse of Messiah, the unborn child of Bes and Karala who in Be Invoked, guided the dead cast towards an ambiguous recreation of the universe.
The Ideon also appears in a non-canon crossover manga with Gundam, Mobile Suit Vs. Giant God: Gigantis' Counterattack, with story and artwork by Yuichi Hasegawa. In this story, set in Universal Century 0090, the Federation sends Amuro Ray to recruit Judau Ashta to help deal with a group of Zeon remnants. While this seems routine, the Zeons have uncovered what they call the "Giant God", namely the Ideon (which is never actually called Gigantis nor Ideon within the story). While investigating, Judau learns that the Zeons are planning on using Mineva Lao Zabi's Newtype powers to awaken the Giant God and get their revenge. Unfortunately, it goes out of control and begins attacking anything in sight. As Judau infiltrates the Giant God, Amuro (along with Char Aznable) fight to distract it. As he nears Mineva, the spirit of Karala and her baby appear, explaining that Ideon remade the universe because it hoped that a new type of human - namely, Newtypes - would be the universe's salvation from war. But since this turned out not to be the case, the Giant God was set to remake the universe again. Judau also learns that he is the reincarnation of Ideon protagonist Cosmo, and violently opposes this plan. With Amuro's help, he manages to free Mineva and shut Giant God/Ideon down before it can do any more harm.
Yoshiyuki Tomino's name comes up in the story, as Amuro explains the myth of Giant God (the events of the Ideon series) to Judau, suggesting that he exists in the Gundam world.
Other anime series
The character designs of Cosmo, Kasha, Gije, and Harulu were reused in the completely unrelated Korean animation Diatron-5.
- Ideon (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Ideon designs at Gears Online
- The Ideon Guide at Counter-X.net
- Ideon at Mecha & Anime HQit:Densetsu kyojin Ideonsimple:Space Runaway Ideon