GP’s Amateur Film Anthology Volume 1 (A Review)

Recently, one Marty Mcflies uploaded a soft copy of a videotape from General Products (or GP) on the anime website Nyaa.si. For those of you who don’t know what General Products is, it is basically GAINAX before GAINAX even became a thing. Yes, we’re going back to the era of DAICON III and Hideaki Anno’s Return of Ultraman here folks with this tape.

The tape consists of six featurettes, two of them being tokusatsu parodies, one being a stop-motion film, and one fully animated music video that would become, I daresay, the predecessor to the DAICON III and IV featurettes.

Without further ado, let’s see what we got here.

I. Space Defense Force Jetman

Jetman title card

Space Defense Force Jetman is one of the two tokusatsu parodies featured on this tape and the more eccentric one out of the two.

Produced in seven days by Animation Sisters and one Sunrise director Shinji Takamatsu (under the pseudonym Jin Tsumakata), this 1982 homage/parody of Taiyou Sentai Sun Vulcan revolves around three high school students fighting against two aliens disguised as female students.

With its use of stop motion animation (both used as a plot device and as a method of storytelling), the resulting product looked like a music video shot somewhere around the late 1960s-early 1970s, not 1983…which makes it even more fun to watch alongside it’s the simple and easy-to-understand story.

The interspecies romance subplot was a bit rushed at the beginning, but that didn’t really affect my enjoyment of this short film.

Space Defense Force Jetman in action

II. Is Barbie a Cat’s Eye?!

I had to jack up the brightness and curves on this image due to the quality of the tape itself.

From a trippy but entertaining tokusatsu parody to a weird music video involving Barbie dolls, stop motion animation, Star Wars, and ANRI.

Not much is known about the creator of “is Barbie a Cat’s Eye?” other than it was created by Hirofumi Okamura (I can’t find any information about him either on the internet) and it took him a year and two months and production costs amounted to a whopping 500,000 yen (618,926.87 yen or 199438.88 PH Peso in 2022 money).

Today I also learned that there are regional differences between Barbie dolls in various countries, thus the stereotypical anime eyes on the Barbie doll used in this video. Other than that, this one reminds me of Thunderbirds and a strange music video for one of City Pop’s legends’ hit single.

III. Tokai Mask I and II

The longest featurette out of all the “five” short films (because two shorts were combined into one long featurette), Tokai Mask episodes one and two tell the adventures of Tokai Mask (four Tokai Masks on the second episode) as he fights through all of Dr. Raisuke’s forces.

Right out the bat, compared to the first tokusatsu parody, there’s little to spoken dialogue in this one as this was presented like a 1920s silent film.

The first Tokai Mask episode was presented like your typical Showa-era Kamen Rider episode. Dr. Raisuke devises a plan to defeat Tokai Mask, monster terrorizes the town, Tokai Mask saves the day as Dr. Raisuke fails to defeat his archnemesis. It also has the John Williams Superman theme song in all its glory.

Tokai Robo
Tokai Robo in all its glory

The second Tokai Mask episode, however, reminded me of a more recent Kamen Rider spin-off Toei produced in 2017: Kamen Sentai Gorider.

Unlike Gorider though, none of the Tokai Masks came back from the dead as none of them died. Hell, we don’t even know where the other Tokai Masks came from, we only knew at the beginning of episode 2 that the original Tokai Mask passed the baton to the future Tokai Red.

Not only that, the Tokai Masks have their own mech that bears a striking resemblance to Optimus Prime. Make it what you will. Tokai Mask 1 has a more cohesive story than the second one due to the fact that the other three Masks’ origins are unknown.

This might be the oldest feature out of all the shorts as it was produced in 1982. The Tokai Mask series would get a revival of sorts in 2000 titled Tokai Mask 2000, which you can see on YouTube.

IV. Video Is Our Hobby!!

We’re now at the DAICON III predecessor portion of the videotape. I said this because it is basically an AMV set in 1980s Japan with the popular anime characters at the time.

It is also the shortest one of all the featurettes as this music video only clocks in around a minute and six seconds.

The NHK building also makes an appearance in this one for unknown reasons.

Just like the ANRI music video made out of Barbie dolls, the tape doesn’t indicate much information about this music video so nobody knows who created this one.

It’s just fun to see the stepping stone of what would become the company that would produce Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Snippet of "Video Is Our Hobby!!"
Count how many copyright infringements you can see in this GIF.

V. Giant Kaiju Ganmenra

From the makers of SDF Jetman, Giant Ganmenra is what you get if Junji Ito and Hajime Isayama had a love child and said love child decided to create a kaiju film on its own…while on drugs.

Unlike SDF Jetman though, the whole premise of this short film was a mess. From start to finish, the whole thing is anything but understandable.

While watching this, I am not sure if what I was watching was a parody of Godzilla or Mazinger Z because nothing makes sense while I watched this.

The ending didn’t help matters to an already confusing story and I am not going to spoil it here, I want you to see it for yourself.

It may be just me because I am not well versed in the language but Ganmenra would be something that I might enjoy if there were subtitles.

Final Thoughts

Out of all the six featurettes on this tape, I liked SDF Jetman the most as it was the most entertaining short out of the pack. Ganmenra is something that I think people with intermediate knowledge of Japanese can understand, Tokai Mask has a unique concept but it is a derivative of Kamen Rider, and both “Is Barbie a Cat’s Eye?!” and “Video Is Our Hobby!!” are great music videos but I would take copyright infringement DAICON III predecessor over the Barbie/ANRI crossover anytime soon.

You can get your copy here and I, once again, thank Marty McFlies for uploading this on Nyaa.

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