Going into Ozma, I figured that I shouldn’t have expected too much complexity from a show sharing the name with a Melvins album that in turn was named after a character from the Oz series. After all, this was something that I famously (let me have my delusions of grandeur) ragged on for not having the confidence to explain much in its premise beyond the events of the first episode. However, it had three things that I didn’t expect it to that completely changed my opinion, leaving this as one of those shows that I can only hope retains its sense of old fashioned adventure throughout.
The first is a fully realized desert world frought with conflict, which is only the best kind of desert world since deserts are generally boring things unless spiced up by gunfire. A good number of shows with similar settings manage to half-ass the setting by making everything brown and dusty, but forgoing any acknowledgement of the dry heat that makes the environments so inhospitable. Ozma’s is, some slight animation issues aside, one of the most gorgeously animated environments out there. It was a particularly nice touch seeing the air distorted by the heat radiating off the ground, something that’s fairly common yet otherwise completely ignored. Yeah, the clothing isn’t exactly appropriate, at least for the soldiers, but it reached the point where I could feel a harsh desert wind on my cheek while in reality slowly pulling out of a chilly winter. For a show to do that it really has to sell its setting with conviction, and Ozma does just that.
Second, the show has a certain retro charm to it, and I don’t just say this because the female lead bears a striking resemblance to Maetel from Galaxy Express 999.
Many of the comic relief characters have exaggerated features, the main villain thus far has a mask hiding his face, and the designs in general hearken back to the days when noses were something to be included rather than marginalized in character features. Even the plot doesn’t escape the scrutiny of the nostalgia label, not having much complexity past the “Lead has seemingly unattainable goals, meets girl who can help him meet said goals, two develop a mutually beneficial relationship that may or may not be romantic, flee from enemy military that seek to capture them” given in the synopsis. There’s nothing necessarily bad about this, so long as it doesn’t stray from the bounds that it’s set for itself.
And finally, there are sand whales. That’s something I’ll just let set in for a minute because it’s fucking awesome. Fucking. Sand. Whales. If that isn’t enough to get you interested in a show, you are far beyond salvation of any sort.
As always, I must conclude by saying that this opening episode of Ozma is not without its flaws. For all its grand gestures, excitement, and general charm levels, it’s ultimately lacking in any kind of depth. The audience isn’t informed of any character traits and thus far there’s no overarching plot device beyond the sand whales and the protagonist’s desire to capture one to keep us invested. All in all, it plays out like something that would’ve been better served as an OVA. However, even putting these detractions aside, which would be glaring in any other show, Ozma’s gotten off to a good start by getting off with a bang.