You know movies that are so bad, they’re good? Enjoyable despite clearly being awful? Do you ever come across these movies without anybody telling you about them first and find that that makes them so much better? Well, I thought that’d be the case when I found Defenders of Space and Protectors of Universe hidden deep behind other anime at a local shop and priced at 99 cents each. With titles like these and a price this low, how could I go wrong? This is going to be fun, right?
I found Defenders of Space and Protectors of Universe (no, not Protectors of THE Universe. They managed to even mess up the title) in a pitiful anime section in a shop with a lacking music selection, okay movie selection and more boxed seasons of House and Friends than the employees could bother sorting alphabetically on the shelf. Naturally, in a place with so few options, the movies piqued my interest. They were so much cheaper than anything else there, and Googling the titles got me little to nothing. This had to be worth picking up if not for the campy cover art alone. This was going to be an adventure.
I paid, left, got home, and got pumped. But before watching the movies, I decided to search for some background information. What I found was very reassuring. They were (unsurprisingly) poorly reviewed, and I found out that they were part of Korea’s attempt to rip off of America’s attempt to rip off Japan’s wildly successful 80’s mecha anime. Despite early Saturday TV’s already being over-saturated with robots shooting lasers and shit, more was being spit out to grab some cash as quickly and cheaply as possible. The studio behind these two movies wanted to get these movies to America as quickly as they could. To do this, they stole other movie’s footage, used the same shots over and over, hired no more than a handful of actors for all of the characters, and threw it over to America and hoped for a profit. I don’t think it worked out for them too well, because the copies I bought hadn’t even been previously opened. I got them firsthand.
And with that exposition, I decided to hop to it and pop in Defenders of Space first. As soon as the menu select screen appeared, I realized what exactly I had gotten myself into.
The animation was sloppy, the audio was actually painful to listen to (I made the mistake of watching it with headphones), but if anything, I liked the music… before realizing it was taken from something else. Hell, even the main mech, the protagonist Phoenix King, is a blatant ripoff of Transformer’s Inferno. Almost nothing in what I was watching was truly original, but I thought it might have been worth sticking around and seeing how they scraped it together to look like an original picture.
It has a story, but it boils down to “there’s an invading alien race and that’s not cool so we gotta get a mech to get rid of them.” You know how it’s going to end, but nobody’s watching for the story really. Actually, I don’t know exactly what I was watching for. Halfway through I had forgotten that I started watching this for fun. Not only was I not having fun, but I wasn’t enjoying anything – I wasn’t enjoying the half-assed performances from three voice actors (not an exaggeration, there was literally only three), I wasn’t enjoying the lazy animation (it was comprised largely of still images), I wasn’t enjoying the fact that there were so many fucking explosions all the time that my ears were constantly aching from the obnoxious loud fuzz throughout the entire movie. All in all, what I sat through wasn’t a good time.
After this, I decided sitting through Protectors of Universe might have been a bit much for me, so I held off on watching it. It might be nice to wait a month before trying this again, I thought. But eventually, I watched it, and it was… better?
I mean, it wasn’t good, not even a little. But it was slightly more bearable. There were maybe a couple extra voice actors this time around, there was less fighting, and it didn’t actually physically pain me to watch it this time around. It had a clearer direction this time around – an identifiable comic relief character, an (emotional?) character death, and the same story as Defenders of Space, but a little cleaner the second time around. It felt like watching the same movie again, but not wanting to die this time, you know?
All in all though, it was kind of shocking to discover that Defenders of Space and Protectors of Universe were both only about an hour long each. They each felt like at least a couple of hours each. They felt like they dragged on and on, not quite wanting to bore you, but not knowing the first thing about being entertaining. It was, maybe not surprisingly to you by now, not a “so bad it’s good” time. They were just bad like an Adam Sandler movie’s bad, not the fun kind of bad you can make fun of, but the bad you just sit and endure until you’re numb to what exactly is fun anymore. I left these movies just sort of feeling tired, regretting the fact that I spent a whole two dollars on them. Sorry, me.
Oh, and on a side note, I bought these, but if you want to check them out for some reason, feel free. You can find them both on YouTube. Good luck.