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satellite cult 4.4
80s OVA music, 2008 redux, abandonware, void dive
welcome to another satellite cult dispatch. i’m so glad you’re here. the artifacts i present this week will suspend you in a soft cocoon of velvet pastels, draw out the most joyful emotions from your most painful years, and bring you a sense of closure you didn’t know you needed. let’s remember what it means to be human for a moment, the good and the bad. let’s do it together.
please be aware that the void dive section below contains flashing gifs.
the dispatch may be absent next week, as i’ll be traveling. i’ll miss you.
if you appreciate what you find here, like, share, and please consider subscribing to satellite cult. thank you.
in the 80s, American anime and manga fans developed close-knit communities that revolved around the exchange of difficult to acquire media; fansub collectives, convention organizers, and trading rings spread anime and manga via in person meet-ups and fanzine mail orders. the web was later instrumental in the proliferation of anime and manga’s popularity outside Japan; over time, fansubbed anime made the jump from VHS to free streaming sites, and manga scan sites, also packed with fan translations, exploded. by the mid-2000s, anime and manga were more accessible than ever.
i’m fascinated with the history of anime and manga fandom. a diy labor of love in its early years, fans worked tirelessly to engage with each medium. i remember watching fansubs online and seeing the names of sub collectives in the credits, so grateful that passionate hobbyists made it possible for a kid like me to watch something that seemed so far away from my bedroom.
even so, it always seemed easier to locate big titles, with more obscure work never finding widespread western release, either officially or courtesy of fan translators—maybe you got lucky and unearthed a niche fansub before a DMCA complaint pulled it offline,1 and never found it again, no matter how hard you searched.
OVAs2 from the 80s and 90s were limited straight to VHS releases, many of which are now obscure, especially outside Japan.3 but they're not hard to find if you know what you're looking for, even when some still don't have English subs or dubs available.
this, this, this, and this are playlists packed with VHS era OVAs, and more exist on other streaming sites. as with anything, they vary in quality, style, and content, but they’re worth watching, at the very least, from a media history perspective.
i love the aesthetics of anime and manga from the 80s and 90s—the art feels warmer where it is meant to be warm, harder where it is meant to be hard, more visceral where it is meant to make you feel. and an often overlooked facet of anime from this moment is the music. these OVAs feature incredible songs.
Next Move by Miho Fujiwara
probably the most well-known among these tracks is Next Move by Miho Fujiwara, as featured in California Crisis: Tsuigeki no Juuka.
released in 1986, California Crisis follows a washed up man and a girl vagabond after uncovering a military conspiracy. the whole thing takes place in a Patrick Nagelish 80s SoCal. it’s loved by vaporwave fans for the aesthetic.
Midnight Deja Vu by Hideyuki Nagashima
the 1989 OVA BE-BOY KIDNAPP'N IDOL is a shounen-ai anime about a teen pop idol and his best friend, who fall in love amid a kidnapping plot. the song, Midnight Deja Vu, sounds like Bruce Springsteen at some turns, hair metal at others—certainly not what most contemporary audiences associate with boys love anime. i’ve seen some claims online that the OVA was produced either for or by the popular yaoi manga magazine Be x Boy, but the magazine doesn’t appear in the fan subbed credits of the version available on Youtube, and it doesn’t look like Be x Boy published its first issue until 1993.
Finally by Yuki Kitahara
the ending theme music from the 1987 OVA Black Magic M-66, an adaptation of the cyberpunk manga Black Magic, Finally by Yuki Kitahara is everything i love about pop from its time period, with a relentless bass line, sweeping 80s electric guitar, and synth accents. the song ends far too soon.
Keep on Burning by Naoki Takao
Dark Cat is a curious OVA from 1991, adapted from the manga of the same name and often categorized as so bad it’s good. about two brothers who can transform into cats and must investigate and defeat an evil demon, it certainly won’t bore you, no matter how else you feel about it. regardless, its end credit song, Keep on Burning, goes hard.
Destiny Light by Naomi Masuda
when it comes to OVAs, the shorter runtimes didn’t always allow for much character or plot development. some got more than one episode; plenty didn’t. but others managed to spawn whole series. that’s what happened to the 1988 OVA Harbor Light Monogatari: Fashion Lala yori; in its first incarnation, it’s a shoujo anime about a girl who wants to be a fashion designer. a decade later, it would find itself transformed into the 26 episode magical girl series Fancy Lala, the Magic Stage, which received an English dub in 2001 by Blue Water Studios. the series retains little from the OVA save for the main character’s name, but the title song, Destiny Light by Naomi Masada, is incredible; at least one person loved it so much that they uploaded an hour long loop of it to Youtube.
i’d also be remiss if i didn’t include songs from the classic OVA series Dream Hunter Rem. Dream Hunter Rem is far from obscure, but i do think it’s more unknown among casual fans, and the music is iconic.4
i have a tumultuous relationship with the year 2008—that September i turned 15 and began my freshman year of high school. now when I remember it, teen angst and nostalgia butt heads. but if you want to relive the internet of the mid to late aughts and earlier, there are plenty of places to do it. Neocities, successor to Geocities, is maybe the most well known, but here are some other sites.
SpaceHey is more or less a recreation of MySpace.
Dreamwidth is similar to Livejournal.
And BitView mimics the look of old YouTube.
here’s some PC-98 abandonware finds for your pleasure. or maybe not, since they aren’t translated into English. as a monolingual heathen i can’t actually play them, but the aesthetic is swoon-worthy. for legal reasons, i’m not going to tell you to download these games, or even where to find them, but lucky for you, it’s not in violation of any law to punch abandonware or virtual machine into DuckDuckGo.
Amaranth KH: Stellar Ōkoku Kenkokutan (1996)
a prequel to the Amaranth series, Amaranth KH: Stellar Ōkoku Kenkokutan is a fantasy RPG with dreamy art.
Chō Jikū Yōsai Macross: Love Stories (1994)
a turn-based mech game that doubles as a dating sim set in the universe of the Macross anime, if you dig enough, you can find an English translation due to the popularity of the franchise. it also has a cool soundtrack.
Etemible: Tenjō Mukyū
a real-time strategy game in which a goddess presents a young warrior woman with a sword and asks her to defend Takamagahara from an army of demons, i have yet to find an English translation,5 but some of the music is available online.
this was when Crunchyroll still hosted anime illegally.
OVA: original video animation, for those of you who aren’t anime fans.
this video and this one by hazel are great if you you’re interested in OVAs. i was shocked that i actually saw some of them before she did--i watched Dragon Half at a con in Eerie, Pennsylvania (2009 or 2010) as a 16-year-old cosplaying Ouran High School Host Club. over ten years later when the manga was re-released, i bought every volume.
if you only watch whatever the shounen anime of the moment happens to be, i beg you to branch out.
if you find a translated version, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org. this game looks cool.