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Phoenix 2772: Part One

he film begins with twelve minutes of introduction that show without dialogue, to Yasuo Higuchi's brilliant orchestral score, the birth and education of the main character, Godo.
       Much like Huxley's Brave New World, the global civilization in this film has its citizens born in test tubes and conditioned from early age to their designated jobs. Godo's job is to be a space pilot; it involves spending long periods of time away from Earth, alone in a spaceship (advanced technology apparently has made other members of the crew unnecessary), and the boy is raised accordingly - by machines, in total isolation.
       Computers teach him to speak and give him an elementary education. When Godo is about six years old, he receives a teacher and companion, but a mechanical one - a beautiful robot called Olga. Her ability to transform into a vehicle, an aircraft and a boat is quite useless, because Godo is not allowed to leave his room, but it makes for a smooth and amusing transformation sequence.
       At last Godo, now grown into a young man, must go for training in the Space Center. As he enters adult life, the introduction is over and dialogue begins.

       Godo's first contact with the world is bitter: an officer bullies him for bringing Olga to school.
       Then the President of the Senate personally addresses space cadets with a pompous speech, which I mention only because in the dub a line about "ascertaining our power over our enemies everywhere" has somehow found its way into it, while in the original there is nothing of the kind. Of course, the bully, captain Volkan, is going to be Godo's trainer and personally make life difficult for him.
       The training is hard, but Godo does extremely well, until one day Volkan orders him to kill innocent alien creatures. Godo cannot bring himself to shoot a living thing. Volkan massacres the creatures, enjoying himself greatly.
       Godo begins to realize how cruel the world is and resents being turned into a heartless killer.
       Some time afterwards he refuses to salute Volkan. Volkan fires a laser gun at Godo's feet, but fortunately the scene takes place outside of the school building, and Olga is present. She has seen her dear boy suffer from nightmares, and she cannot let the bullying continue. Despite her delicate looks, she lifts Volkan effortlessly together with his car, carries him to the top of an arch over a wire bridge and leaves him there, frightened out of his senses.
       Meanwhile Godo enters the building and sees some girls walking across the hall. He is mesmerized by the beauty of one of them. She stops to look at him, and something passes between the two in a burst of computer-generated special effects: this is love at first sight.
       At the same time a third character is implicitly introduced. In the dub the girls chatter about Lena's coming marriage and mention the name of her fiancé. In the original instead they discuss someone on whom her father seriously counts to save the world.
       We also learn that the society in which Godo lives is divided into classes, and his is far from a prestigious profession. The girls consider it beneath them to waste attention on "some pilot".
       Godo had reason to be bold to Volkan, however. His training is over, and he is going to be assigned a special mission. Rock, a young official (incidentally the man about whom the girls have been talking), gives him a task that is close to impossible but shows consideration not only of Godo's abilities, but also, unexpectedly, of his principles. The mission is to find and catch an outer space life form code-named 2772 that has already destroyed several ships, and there is one condition: the monster must be brought to Earth alive.
       Something absurd happens in the dub at this point: they drop the thousands and rename the monster 272 for the rest of the film, without regard to the title.
       Anyway Godo accepts the mission, and is allowed to make a request in his turn. "Give me my freedom!" he exclaims in the dub, while in the original he asks for something more prosaic - a permission to leave the limits of the city.
       The countryside is barren, without trees or even grass (while the cityscape at least showed some patches of green). But Olga in her aircraft form leads Godo to a beautiful garden. He kneels to smell real flowers for the first time in his life, then glances up and sees Lena.
       A halting, embarrassed conversation follows. They learn each other's names, and then a robot guard appears and tells Godo to leave. Apparently his freedom of travelling does not extend to areas reserved for members of the Senate. The dub also changes the social order and adds something about "imperial guard", because certainly a republic cannot have such inequality.
       After this meeting life goes on as before. Rock shows Godo his spaceship equipped with a super-intelligent computer that recognises spoken orders. No assistant is necessary, but Godo still wants to take Olga with him - "she's like a human being", he says in the dub, and in the original he is even more frank: "In a sense, she's better than humans".
       Hearing this Rock flies into a rage which is quite unreasonable, since the presence of a household robot on board can hardly interfere with the mission. But either the man simply cannot stand being contradicted, or this is Tezuka's method of plot development at work, because the quarrel leads to a revelation. Persuading Godo to behave, Rock explains that he has a personal interest in him: they are twins, born in the same laboratory and presumably sharing similar genes.
       This involves an interesting linguistic nuance. There are different terms in Japanese for older and younger brother. Rock at first uses an unspecified term kyo:dai, then tries both of the specific terms: "ni:-san - or should I say oto:to?". Although he patronises Godo and is superior in social standing, by the end of the film it turns out that he thinks of Godo as the older.
       Then we learn about an immense construction project, headed by Rock, which the President of the Senate hopes will be the Earth's salvation. The world is suffering from an energy crisis, and the idea is to artificially stimulate volcanic activity, tapping the energy of the mantle. Most of the heavy work at the construction is carried out but by prisoners in labour camps. A hint at Soviet Union's colossal power plants built by prisoners? Maybe, or maybe just a science fiction cliché.
       Rock's report on the first stage of the project is approved by the Senate. In a month's time (and not "next Monday", as the dub says) there will be a break in his work, and he wants to use this opportunity to realize another long-standing plan of his - to marry Lena. "We've waited for a long time", he remarks in the dub, and in the original "You've kept me waiting long enough". Lena says nothing.
       She cannot stop thinking about Godo, and her cutesy alien mascot Pincho is a bad advisor on this matter. "Human girls are so indecisive! You're in love with him, how about going on a date?" he says (but only in the original. In the dub throughout the film his lines are replaced by generic prattle). Western viewers mostly take Pincho to be Lena's pet or servant, in the novelization he is unexplained, and in the storyboards at one point introduces himself as an exchange student, but his real purpose in life is to cheer people up on both sides of the screen.
       However, Lena and Godo have little reason to be cheerful. They do meet again in secret, but there is almost no time left before Godo has to go on his impossible mission.
       Olga is unhappy too. Her boy is sad and restless, and for the first time he would not tell her about his troubles... Olga experiences a new emotion - jealousy, and in a sriking episode we see the robot's equivalent of angry tears.
       Of the three tormented souls Lena is the first to find her situation unbearable. Her father, the President of the Senate, has made up his mind about her marriage, and all her protests are useless. (It seems that the nobles in this society want to benefit from genetic engineering without directly subjecting themselves to it, and solve the problem by allowing select members of the lower classes to marry into the elite). Desperate, Lena begs Godo to elope with her.
       Godo is torn between love and duty, but before he can think even for a moment, his mind is made up for him: the lovers are discovered. Now there is nothing left but to flee. Where to? We shall never know. The furious car chase through the night is soon over - though it seems strange that the pursuers shoot at the car knowing Lena is inside, - and the fugitives are caught.
       Rock is exasperated. His fianceé and his brother have let him down in the most idiotic fashion and at the worst possible moment. He still needs that connection with the President of the Senate, and if he wants to marry Lena, her reputation must be saved. That means Godo has to take the blame. Rock's precious plan to capture the Cosmozoon falls through. By verdict of the court (and not, as in the dub, by Rock's own decision) Godo is stripped of his rank and citizenship and sentenced to penal servitude in a labour camp in Iceland.
       Thus our hero loses everything and is thrown abruptly, bruised and beaten, into the second part of the film.
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