- Fantastic Adventures of Yohko: Leda (1985: TOHO and Kaname Productions) 1/1 ep.
Leda is one of those OAVs that doesn’t seem all that odd whilst you are watching it but the moment you sit down and try to explain what you just saw it quickly becomes clear that this thing is pure insanity. Yohko is a school girl, with a great side ponytail, and a burning love for some dude. In order to build up enough courage to confess to him she composes a piano piece. One day, whilst listening to said piece on her Walkman, she runs across her love in the park. Sadly, she can’t tell him and walks past him instead. As she reflects on her cowardice she is suddenly transported to another world. She wanders through this weird forest and accidentally loses her beloved Walkman. Luckily a dog returns it to her…a flying talking dog called Lingham. He tries to explain where she is to her when a gang of baddies on awesome speederbikes, that transform to also have legs, turn up and demand her Walkman. It turns out that her Walkman has something to do with Leda’s Heart and is the key to shifting between world, Leda being a God. The gang try to kill Yohko while they’re at it but she gets eaten by a plant and transforms into a powerful magical warrior, complete with skimpy armour. The baddies retreat to their base to give Leda’s Heart to their master: Zell. Yohko and Lingham chase after them and eventually team up with a priestess of Leda called Yoni, who gives them some handy tools that will aid them in their fight against Zell. Then all three of them head off to go fight Zell and stop his nefarious plans.
While not quite as rampantly bananas as something Like Crystal Triangle there is still plenty in there that is super weird, and of course I did leave quite a few things out. However, as I pointed out earlier you just don’t think about how weird it is whilst watching it. Instead it just comes off a fun adventure romp with some really fantastic animation that brings it all to life. The story is fairly plain but it works given the fact that this is little over an hour long and really seem to be more focussed on being a fun adventure than being a thrilling bit of narrative storytelling. While on the topic of visuals, I really have to give Matsumi Inomata a lot of credit here as her character designs are so absolutely on point that it hurts and the fact that she was also the chief animator means that whole lot of the enjoyment I got from this OAV is directly due to her.
Something interesting that Mike Toole pointed out was the connection to The Vision of Escaflowne. I didn’t think of it when watching Leda but upon reading this the dots immediately connected in my mind. I would love to know if anyone has ever actually asked Kawamori about this as there are just too many overlaps for it to be coincidence. This is not to say that this is a bad thing as I would say that Escaflowne built very smartly upon the things that it may have lifted from Leda. But we should give some credit to the Kunihiko Yuyama (Windaria and Goshogun: Time Estranger) as he did direct Leda after all and if he is any way even a little bit responsible for Escaflowne then he deserves even bigger props than he already gets for his many excellent productions.
Overall, Leda is just a fun time. The story and the characters are dead simple and it doesn’t really have anything greater to say but it is executed with such exuberance that you can’t help but be swept along by it and have fun with it. Yes it is weird but it is never jarring, which means you are never taken out of the experience. None of this would have been possible though without the lively and beautiful animation and art design which holds everything together. This is unlikely to become anyone’s all time favourite but it is a really fun way to spend an hour.
Final score: 6B