- California Crisis: Gun Salvo (1986: Studio Unicorn and Hiro Media) 1/1 ep.
Staff and Background
California Crisis is, as far as I know, an original work by Mizuho Nishikubo who has had a long and varied career. He was an episode director on The Rose of Versailles whilst also directing Video Girl Ai, Giovanni’s Island, Otogizoushi, and The Mysterious Cities of Gold. He also directed a ton of meh to crap stuff too, but you’ll likely not have heard of any of it so I won’t bother mentioning them. Overall he does seem like a decent director when he is given a chance, though considering this show maybe he needs some restraint.
California Crisis doesn’t really have a story if we are going to be honest. You could say that it starts with a deadbeat named Noera (which seems to come from the Tomino school of randomly bashing a keyboard to come up with character names) getting drunk in his mate’s bar in San Diego where he hears an odd noise. The next morning he is driving to LA for job (definitely still drunk) when he and a girl named Marcia get rammed off the road by a truck that is being chased by people in 4x4s with bazookas. Somehow Noera’s car survives falling off a cliff so he manages to run away and he lets Marcia tag along. It turns out that Marcia has stolen a weird orb from the back of the truck in the two seconds between them hitting the ground and them running away. The US military and the Soviets (though I’m not sure we actually ever see them) then chase our duo all the way to Death Valley. Why Death Valley? Because Marcia and Noera touched the orb in a diner and had a mysterious vision of Death Valley, after which Marcia declared it was the American Dream and they must go to Death Valley. That is the plot of the OAV, can you see why I said it doesn’t matter? That setup is pretty much the first 5-10 minutes while the rest is the chase to Death Valley. Though we never actually find out what the orb is or why people want it because the show ends with them falling into a lake, the orb releasing some shining lights, and then them holding the orb except now it is empty… So yeah, if we aren’t here for the plot are we here for the characters? Ummmmmmmm no. Noera is an alcoholic tsundere whilst Marcia just loves her orb, there isn’t much else there. So why are we here? Because this shit is nuts and looks insane!
California Crisis is clearly the result of someone having watched a ton of movies and music videos and then trying to create a production around that idea of LA that they had from these. It is stuffed to the gunwales with pop culture stuff, like a Hardrock Café, and other general California stuff, like big cars and the geography. If anything, they really should have ditched the chase stuff and the plot and instead have made this a long music video full of stuff they thought was cool. This show is quite enjoyable if you watch it in that way but imagine if they had made the whole show like this!
I suppose this is as good a time as any to talk about the visuals. First off, the animation is really bad. It is super choppy and a lot of the time the backgrounds feature little to no detail. There are a few nice cuts and the above sequence is fairly smooth but overall it is quite poor. On the other hand, the art design is something I quite like. Nothing, and I mean nothing, looks like California Crisis. Those character designs are super cool, though Marcia isn’t the prettiest design to be honest, with their heavy shading and defined lines. I just love when stuff looks so different and so out there, it is just so freaking cool! In addition, all the neon and night scenes perfectly capture that 80s idea of LA as a glamorous but slightly dangerous party town. These visuals arr helped by a dope OST done by none other than the great Miho, because if you want your show to be cool in the 80s you get Miho to sing some songs for it. The soundtrack is genuinely top tier and is just a great little listen.
So yeah, that was less a review and more just rambling about California Crisis, the show is so bizarre that it is hard to talk about it normally. It certainly isn’t good and if you go into it trying to watch it as a show then you are going to be bored stuff. But what it is great for is to throw on as some background noise that you look at every once in a while because the visuals and the sound are totally worth it.
Final score: 2B