Towa no Quon’s upwards trajectory in quality is not a perfect one. It was marred in its beginnings by mediocre storytelling and inconsistent animation quality. It only won me over when it began to truly… well… begin.
But what a pair of sequels three and four were. The main cast shined as a team, Quon became more compelling and Epsilon stole the show in some surprising ways. One cliffhanger later, and it was time to see if Towa no Quon could stick the landing with its last two entries.
The return of the Invincible starts with our heroes at their lowest point, seeking refuge as their hunters close in. Similarly, Epsilon finds himself on the run but ends up aiding the Attractors. Meanwhile, it appears we are in for some long-awaited development of our antagonist, Genji Kamishiro and the organizations he works for.
He is visited by a character who the audience has met before, but not quite in the same capacity. Kannazuki is one of the older main characters helping the Attractors (he is also the guy with the beard, to put it simply).
Now I will admit… I had no idea who this character was when he appeared on screen in the fifth film. You’d think the mention of his name or the sound of his English voice actor would have tipped me off, but no, I had no fucking idea.
In my defense, he was dressed completely different, shaved their beard and was referred to as “Commissioner Kannazuki.” From film four’s end credits preview, I assumed him to be a new character. I can’t determine if it’s my fault for not picking up on this or the film’s fault for not making it clear.
Either way, at least we finally get an idea of how the Attractors were able to stay hidden in Fantasium Gardens. Kannazuki’s government position is elaborated on. I’m assuming there was probably some throwaway lines I don’t remember establishing his position.
After all, there was a scene towards the end of the third film where he pulled strings in order to create a diversion to allow the heroes to escape, but it’s one of few scenes really developing him. I remember actually thinking, “what’s happening to him would be really emotionally engaging if I knew who this was.”
Either way, Kannazuki uses his position to go meet Genji and probe him for info. He tries to ascertain Quon’s well-being, but along the way, we start to learn more about Custos and The Order. Not that it makes a ton of sense…
All of the inner politics beg more questions than answers. There is a council that Kannazuki himself is part of that we never heard of. One of the greatest failings of #5 and #6 is how they never really explain the grand scheme of the villains’ plans or elaborate on their structure.
There is a fairly big reveal involving Towa, Quon’s brother. Kannazuki plays a big role in this, but since I didn’t even recognize who the fuck he was, you can imagine the effect this had on my viewing experience.
It’s not all a mystery, mind you. It’s clear that Genji has this master plan coming to fruition, regardless of whether his motive is shared by his masters. He shows his true cards in a climactic betrayal, and I love climactic betrayals. Then he sets sights on the Attractors, who are having a crisis of conscience.
Our heroes are struggling with a new moral dilemma. After the prior film’s conclusion, they are beginning to question whether or not they should continue hiding from society. Obviously, there is a necessity to hide from Custos and The Order, but some among them feel that running is keeping them from truly living their lives, as fleeting as they might be without the protection.
Integral to the core of stories about discrimination is the ethical argument of how to confront the world that discriminates against you. Here it is a relatively small plot point and it’s importance later could be seen as more problematic than narratively resonant, but it’s still a cool discussion.
Quon’s main flaw is his insistence on putting the weight of all life on his shoulders and here he is at his lowest point. It’s one thing to fail to save people, but for your people to lose faith in your promise of salvation? That’s a tough one. Thankfully, by the same token, Epsilon has found new resolve.
I’ll admit, it is a little bit weird how everyone among the Attractors just accepted Epsilon. Last movie, no one trusted him because he used to hunt them down and then ended up really screwing things up. Sure, he was under remote control for the bad shit, but how was everyone besides Quon supposed to know that. I’m glad he was accepted, but there could have been a more believable amount of hesitance.
The action in the fifth film is amazing. There are two notable fights this film. Epsilon tries to convince Delta that her mission is wrong while kicking all kinds of ass like a man possessed. Even that pales before Epsilon and Quon teaming up against all the cyborgs, where Hidetsugu Ito really shines.
Quon and Epsilon both, at their prime, represent an homage to the transforming hero trope, or ‘Henshin Hero,’ popular in the ’80s. Epsilon metaphorically sheds his skin to signify his alteration. I’m not even just talking about the white suit, his metamorphosis makes him a god damn power ranger and I love it.
So it all comes down to the final film, the appropriately titled Eternal Quon. Most of it is just a climactic assault on the enemy’s base (one of my favorite tropes).
Before we get into the meat of this explosive finale, let’s revisit the two kids we met in the very first film. Kiri and Yuma were our first introductions to the plight of the Attractors, but after the first film, only Kiri continued to be relevant.
She learned to control her ability and found a place in the group, even trying to save people like her. Now, in the end, she takes a back seat to Yuma, who by film five finally becomes important to the plot.
Yuma’s inability to control his ability and the self-consciousness about said inability acted like a reflection of the dwindling hope the attractor’s felt in the face of the plight before them. In the final two films though, I was really happy to see him gain control and become relevant to the story again.
Him harnessing the destructive power and turning it into a power to save perfectly encapsulates the quest of Quon and all he teaches throughout the story. It’s a shame though that Kiri almost feels like she isn’t there by the end, though I understand her arc had come to an end.
I’m torn over how I feel about Genji Kamishiro. his betrayal was cool and it was a surprising flip of the script given what we were led to believe about him and his philosophies. That being said, I really am not sure what he was trying to accomplish. I can guess that it has to do with attaining power, but that makes him so much less interesting.
As disappointing as that is, Genji still displays some style as a villain. The final battle even takes place upon the ruins of his fortress (once again, another trope I’m a sucker for). Quon unleashes the full potential of his power in such lavish fashion I thought I was watching the end of a Gainax Anime.
I was a bit dismissive of Quon as a character last time, but I still believe his story was resolved well. The beginning of the film actually gives more clarity on Quon’s backstory and that of his people. We already knew plenty, but few details we learn here interesting for what they add to the messages of discrimination.
No character’s arc could beat that of Epsilon’s, though. By the end, he struck me as the real hero of Towa no Quon. A villain confronting their past and turning their life around in the face of hatred from those he wishes to save. Every scene featuring him in this film is gold and I was not expecting to fall in love with this character this much.
Where does all this leave us? On a cliffhanger, unfortunately. This story ends on what I can only interpret as a sequel tease. Not even a promise of “Oh don’t worry, the bad guys are already beaten.” Perhaps this is the time to discuss exactly why this film might be so unknown.
Iida Umanosuke is credited partly as a director and mostly as part of the planning. As I mentioned in part one, he passed away in 2010, a year before the films released. Sadly, it seems as though they never had plans to continue the series with a new creative team.
With the creative team that was there, whether they used all that Umanosuke helped produce or created stuff themselves, the films felt without a clear direction. The first two films were decidedly lacking beyond some initial sakuga. Worse, the ending’s cliffhanger and the lack of focus in regards to the antagonists leaves this series feeling incomplete.
I put a big emphasis on Umanosuke in this theory because of the man’s reputation. While Devilman may only be mainstream now because of the new Netflix series, but the original OVAs he produced are highly praised today. While Hellsing Ultimate is more revered, the brand name is still a big one known by most mainstream anime fans.
I don’t claim to be an expert in assessing his directing, but when I watch this film, there is a distinctive feel to the type of science-fiction I’m watching. It’s an almost nostalgic feel that Bones could have been trying to capitalize on here. The best way I can describe it is as such…
Towa no Quon is an 80s OVA, produced in the 2010s.
The science, the military aesthetics, and mechanical design and especially the transforming hero trappings all contribute to this intangible feeling of ’80s cool, all brought to us with some A-tier – NO, S-tier animation by Bones.
This series is interesting for the same reason that X-men is. It is a tale about discrimination and fighting against hate, but sometimes fighting ourselves as well. Had this series had a continuation to reach it’s potential, this could have been fulfilled even more.
The story was lacking, but the characters shined through great design and tons of heart. Especially best boy Epsilon. The icing on the cake was the impressive English voice cast, courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.
So was Towa no Quon a “classic” like the back of the Blu-ray suggests? Hell no, especially not with how obscure it is. Even so, damn was I happy to watch it. For how much society is obsessed with the 80s nowadays, it might not be a bad idea to the hype of this show now, with its soul belonging to times past. Consider this an overlooked gem for fans of Sci-fi.
Towa no Quon is available for legal streaming on HIDIVE. It is also available on Blu-ray from Sentai Filmworks.
Stay tuned for a review of the latest volume of RWBY. I know, right? Sure my review of the series is my lowest-rated on my blog, but there was enough to talk about that I felt it necessary to return to it.
Tell me what you thought about my review and what else I should watch. Thanks for reading and see you next time!