Even these tapes cost something

  Battle for Moon Station Dallos
1987 | Celebrity Home Entertainment Inc.
battle for moon station Dallos celebrity just for kids

I'm starting to see that most tapes fall into one of two categories. 1. everything gets changed or 2. the show is left almost entirely intact. The second often come from Anime wasn't intended for little kids. Dallos is one of these cases...

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Dallos tells the story of how the planet Earth has become over-populated and mankind has been forced to colonise the moon. Domed cities are established on it's surface but the colonists soon find themselves suffering suppression and exploitation forced to permanently where identity head-bands and work endlessly to mine precious ore in order to keep the new society running. But not all of the population are willing to live in oppression and a guerrilla force is formed by Doc McCoy to launch co-ordinate attacks against the moon's military government from their secret base of operations- the mysterious self-regenerating ruins known as Dallos. Along the way a young boy called Shun Nomura gets caught up in the terrorists clashes with the tyrannical Commandant Alex Riger, forcing him to decide whose side he is on.

Dallos has gone on to become famous as the first ever OAV. Standing for 'Original Animated Video' this industry term was a nice way of saying 'made-for-video'- denoting that the title had been released to the retail/rental market without first being shown in the Cinemas or on TV. In Anime this doesn't have the negative connotations that is does in the west as it allows studios the freedom to create titles for specific demographics creating a wider range of genres outside of the mainstream demands of film and television. A whole new market grew from this which went on to become one of the most important parts of the industry, with VHS tapes being superceded by Laser Discs and now DVDs.The acronym was altered over time to OVA (Original Video Animation) in an attempt to distance itself from the similar sounding AV or Adult Video.

Released on 21st December 1983 Dallos: Dallos Hakai Shirei (Dallos: Order to Destroy Dallos) was actually the second part of the four part series with the intended opening episode released January the following year. Produced by Studio Perriot, now most famous for their 'Magical Girlfriend' series, which had only recently been founded in 1979 by ex Tatsunoko employees and directed by Mamoru Oshii. Oshii, now famous for directing the popular 'Ghost in the Shell' movies as well as the first two Urusei Yatsura features, had recently left Tatsunoko Productions to work at Perriot and Dallos was his second directing job after screen writing and directing Urusei Yatsura: Only You a year earlier. The musical score for the Dallos series was provided by the popular Keyboard player Hiroyuki Namba, best known in the West for providing the soundtrack to Armitage III and was written by Hisaishi Toriumi who later adapted the Konami video games Gradius as the Salamander video series.

The Dallos series ran to four 30 minute volumes titled; Order to Destroy Dallos, Dallos II: Remember Bartholomew and Dallos III: Sea of Nostalgia Acts I & II ( the later three released in 1984). 1985 saw the final Dallos release entitled 'Dallos Special' which collected the four volumes into one 120min feature adding several new scenes and shots.

Battle For Moon Station Dallos was released in the USA in 1987 by the Celebrity's Just For Kids label. This label, while also distributing such popular U.S. cartoon series as 'Bravestarr', 'G.I. Joe' and 'Cops', also dealt in a large amount of animation from overseas including 'The BFG' from England and 'Madeline' from France. But it's probably for their large stocks of Anime that Celebrity are now better known. Redubbed and edited titles included Captain Harlock (released as Vengeance of the Space Pirate), Cyborg 009 (retitled Defenders of the Vortex) and the heavily cut Revenge of the Ninja Warrior originally titled Dagger of Kamui.

Battle For Moon Station Dallos originates from the two hour 'Dallos Special', here hacked down to a more kid friendly 87 mins. Removed is most of, but notably not all, the blood and gore along with a number of dialog sequences, presumably to keep the action flowing and the juvenile audience entertained.

Nearly all the character names remain unchanged as does the musical score but unfortunately the new English dub track is provided by the same cast that dubbed all those old Hong Kong Kung Fu movies, two ex-pats known in the industry as 'The Boys', so you know what to expect. Alex Riger even speaks with that often imitated Kung Fu villain voice- you know the one: "Yeah... I'm the man.... Who... Killed your father!"

As with all the Just For Kids tapes there is a filmed introduction this time by a young boy who claims to be called 'Noel'. I'd imagine his nickname would be 'One Take Noel' as he blasts through the information (eyes moving as he reads the cue cards) without a pause, giving advice on how to adjust the VCR's tracking if necessary (best get "big brother" or "big sister" to do it!) and also suggesting you meet up with him again at the end of the tape to find out how to get a free video!

His cheerful delivery and farewell, not to mention the company logo of brightly coloured balloons and crayons, don't fit well when the main feature contains such cheery themes as loss of human rights, oppression, death and terrorism!

The four VHS volumes of Dallos
Dallos Special

Before we start I would just like to point out that as I am writing this I am entangled in wires. This video has been the hardest so far to get screenshots from, a record that will hopefully never be beaten. I don't want to bore you with the details but just to give you an idea of how hard I work for this section I've got two computers connected to each other in ways they were never intended to be and a small desk crammed with several monitors, keyboards and mouses. And, as I said, wires everywhere!

Ok here's "Walt" to welcome us to the great Just For Kids video. I must remember to stay tuned after the show so I can find out how to get a free video...

The new producers make no attempts to hide Battle For Moon Station Dallos' Eastern origins as the whole Japanese crew receive credits. Scrolling text, replacing the original's Star Wars inspired opening, sets the scene; "Dallos... An impregnable fortress, a secure sanctuary, a reliable guardian, an almighty god... Can it makes the Lunarian's dreams come true, help them restore their human rights and protect them from the tyranny of the self-seeking earthlings? In their struggle for freedom, a hero is born..." There can't be many kids videos that mention "human rights" and make reference to "an almighty god" in their opening credits!

The story begins with a civilian shuttle landing in the Moon colony. In the security tower the guards scan the inbound vessel for trouble makers and find one! Doug McCoy, age 36, an ex convict with ties to a radical group. Within moments the military police, armed with machine guns and accompanied by attack dogs, rush to the scene. Loosing their pursuers, although there were never actually any signs of a chase, Doug's men make their escape across a construction site. But someone is waiting for them. Someone with unfeasibly long sideburns. That man is Alex Riger, the Commander and Chief of the Moon colony (Moonopolis), and he's one mean bastard! Rather than set his dog Geronimo on them he decides to take them on himself. He mutters "Let's get the scum!" before busting out some serious moves, defeating all four suspects before backup even arrives. Lucky he was in the area, waiting for an important guest to arrive from earth. The responding units get a sound dressing down but notice one of the suspects is missing- the most important one Doug McCoy!

In the residential quarter young Shun Nomura sits on the roof of his parents house fixing a robotic arm recovered from an old mining robot. His friend Rachael comes over to see him but is soon bored by the lack of attention he gives her, deep in concentration mending his machinery. Her boredom quickly turns to terror when, out of nowhere, a police attack dog appears on the roof! The dog lunges for Shun who protects himself with the newly restored robotic arm. Catching the animal by the throat the machinery quickly chokes it to death, a point which the dialog makes no attempts to hide! Left with evidence of his crime and with Moonopolis Police combing the area it's lucky for shun that another mystery guest makes a sudden appearance. This time it's McCoy, the fugitive the cops are searching for. Pleased with the kid's ingenuity, and thankful for the help, McCoy takes the dog's corpse away with him, back to the guerilla camp- for dinner!

Later that day (I'm guessing) Shun is out at the local shopping plaza with Rachael and his family. The two friends decide to leave the party and head for an exciting afternoon at the airport, a strange choice of hangout I'd think. Shortly after they arrive a shuttle lands and a young woman disembarks. It seems she is the important guest Alex Riger spoke of earlier and he's there to meet her. The happy reunion is interrupted when one of the crowd hurls a chunk for scrap metal at the couple. This is a bad move as Riger has the Police invade the crowd to capture the rioter(s). In the confusion Shun and Rachael are separated and Shun is mistaken for a protester and is arrested.

Alex and Marinda finally get some time alone. She tells the Commander and Chief that she has traveled from Earth because her father, probably an important man although this is never revealed and his is never referred to again, has grown worried about Rigers reputation. Alex is pleased by this as he feels this reputation is well deserved, if he didn't act harshly nothing would get done!

Meanwhile the recent detainees are cooling off in prison but not for long. Doug McCoy breaks through the concrete wall using a similar mechanical arm to the one Shun used on the police dog. The suspects run free while Riger takes his girlfriend for a flying tour of the colonies, filling her, and the audience, in on the inner workings of life on the Moon. It is revealed, although heavily drowned beneath the sound effects, that the reason Earth is currently so prosperous is due to the hard toiling of the Lunarians and their dangerous daily mining for Ore, which is then refined and sent back to Earth. It is such a dangerous job that many have lost their lives as a result. In fact the tiniest tear in your spacesuit means death! The importance of the Ore to Earth means that the Colonists are forced to work long, arduous hours in almost complete darkness with little respite.

An unusual structure appears below them. Riger tells her it's Dallos and regards the mysterious, ancient, ruins with scorn explaining that the settlers worship it as a god, and how, in fifty years, they have built a whole religion around it. Passing over Dallos the shuttle comes to rest in the mining area. Suddenly it is attacked by McCoy and his rebels using mining robots to gouge and tear away at the vessel. Riger and Marinda have no choice but to abandon ship but in the ensuing violence the girl is captured by the guerilla force and the Commander and Chief is lost in an explosion. Shun destroys a responding attack jet, supposedly as "self protection" which brings him further to the attention of the rebel leader.

McCoy and his gang visit their hostage. They explain to her that they simply want rights, not to be forced to work like slaves, but the Earth girl doesn't understand. Outside violence erupts on the streets as citizens rise up against the Military Government shooting police officers and bombing their vehicles. Riger orders his men to increase their use of force in an attempt to stamp out the guerillas before they have a chance to grow in size. The next day an emergency meeting of the Government is held and they urge the Commander and Chief to negotiate a truce but he refuses outright even though it could put his beloved Marinda's life in danger. I doubt many of the videos target audience found discussion regarding "polarization", "radicals" and the destabilising effects of guerilla attacks on the future of centralised government, easy to follow or of much interest!

The mechanisation of McCoy's Guerilla movement is increasing but he is doubtful of the effect they are having, speculating that the Moonopolis Government is simply suppressing the news coverage of the unrest and none of it is reaching Earth. Shun, now seemingly a signed up member of the movement, is making regular visits to Miranda asking about life on Earth. News of this travels to Rachael who becomes jealous and she bugs him about it all the way home. Later that night Riger attacks the underground rebel base using packs of "Cyborg Moon Dogs". Soon their robotics factory is overrun. The rebels put up a fight but it has little effect. Shun, who had actually returned home in the previous scene, is left behind to guard their hostage. By the time Riger reaches her cell she is gone but he finds a clue- the name "Shun Nomura".

The next day Riger finds Rachael in the park. Knowing that she and Shun are involved he questions her but nothing useful comes of it. When he, a native of Earth, asks the girl what inspires the colonists to work so hard she simply tells him "Dallos". That night Alex Riger leads an assault on Dallos, believing that this must be the place the terrorists fled to. His suspicions are correct and a devastating battle ensues wrecking much of the ancient structure. Almost as if by instinct Dallos begins to contract on it's own causing the combatants to flee. Shun's Grandfather leads Rachael through the underground passages to meet Shun, detailing the legend of Dallos on the way. They run into Shun, accompanied by Marinda as he is escaping the ruins pursued by Riger. A standoff ensues but the collapse of the ceiling buries them all.

The next morning Rachael, alive and well without any explanation of how she survived or escaped, is collecting supplies for the rebels with a previously unseen red headed woman. She has brought medicine for Shun's Grandfather who was wounded in the previous night's battle (I'm assuming). Marinda urges them to take him to the Central Medical Facility where she says Alex will look after him but McCoy refuses as this would give up their location. Night time comes and Marinda and Shun attempt to move Grandpa under the cover of darkness but are quickly caught by McCoy, alerted to their actions by Rachael- for reasons which go unexplained. Just then an enormous explosion rips through the residential quarters and troops descend on the scene attacking the group. The rebels manage to escape, the onslaught of Cyborg Moon Dogs and "DEM" robots killing only nameless characters. Hiding in the sewer and despite McCoy's assurance that it was destroyed by the Government, Grandpa urges them to return to Dallos.

The next morning the colonists riot, attacking the authorities and destroying their armourments. The bombing of the residential block is the cause of the unrest, the blast that killed Shun's mother- his father was out at work at the time and is devastated at the news. The crisis deepens when word reaches the Government that the miners have gone on strike for an indefinite period. Another emergency meeting is held to find the person responsible for ordering the bomb but no culprit is found. Things only get worse for those in charge with the revelation that Dallos has been revived. Satellite photos reveal that the guerillas have returned there. Riger orders an all out attack.

At Dallos a frantic battle ensues. The guerillas make their final stand against the oppressive forces and every member is involved even Rachael. While war rages within the ruins on the surface the Military have McCoy, Shun and their unit cornered. All looks bleak for them when suddenly laser beams blast through the surface. It seems that Dallos itself is fighting back! It's blasts decimate the enemy taking out a number of government officials in it's wake. Eventually it's onslaught is over, bringing with it an end to the conflict and an eerie silence. In the still aftermath Shun carries Riger to safety. Both sides realise there is little either can do any more and Marinda convinces Riger to leave everything in the hands of the Earth government.

The next day the miners return to work and life in the colonies goes on as if nothing had happened. McCoy and his subordinate Max muse on their attempts to overthrow the government both agreeing that in the end they had little effect. McCoy, however, is optimistic- determined that the actions they took can't be hidden from the people of Earth and that they will demand answers and bring about the change that is needed.

Elsewhere Riger grants Shun's wish to take his Grandfather out of the domed city to see the 'Sea of Nostalgia' a place he wants to visit one last time before he dies. The journey there brings back painful memories of the awful suffering that he and the original settlers faced. They finally reach their destination. The Moon's sea of tranquility turned into a vast cemetery for the victims of the tragedies that befell the original settlers. From here Grandpa can clearly see the Earth, his beloved birth place, and he dies in peace. Shun decides that he must go on fighting by Doug McCoys side if they are ever to see any real change. The movie closes with an audio broadcast from Earth dismissing the rebels actions and pledging that such disorder must be stopped. It seems that there is no end in sight to the suffering of the people of Moon Station Dallos.

With this bleak conclusion not more than a few seconds behind us the cheery face of "Noel" reappears to tell us how we can claim our free video. On the strength of this tale I doubt many kids would bother unless they had sunk to suicidal levels of depression as a result. Interested kids should collect six tokens from Just For Kids packages and send them off. It may be a little late to start now though as the business went bankrupt back in 1991...


Alex Riger, Man of Action
Kung Fu figher and convincing voice actor. "Let's get the scum!"

... the end
Was Shun's struggle worth it? Will their terrorist actions have any effect?

Original character names
Great, original score
  Grown up, engrossing plot
  Noel's intro and outro!
Very bad dubbing & poor mixing
Difficult to follow
  Slightly ropy, animation & ordinary characters

Downbeat, mature in tone, and bleak- I think it's fair to assume that most of Battle For Moon Station Dallos must have gone over the heads of it's pre-pubescent audience. Theorising and human rights struggles aren't what they demand from entertainment after all!

It loses marks for being difficult to follow due to cuts, I had to watch this twice to fully understand what was going on, and inaudible dialog which is often obscured by the music and effects. The dubbing starts out very poor but eventually levels out just above bad. Some striking imagery and a great score add to this enjoyable, if inconclusive, tale. If you like your Sci-fi depressing- I recommend it!