(aka, Crystal Triangle)
[Warning: Spoilers ahead]
Can you top this?
That was the biggest problem all those attempts at copying Raiders of the Lost Ark had — at least when it came to the ancient treasure their hero was after. Heck, even Spielberg and Lucas couldn’t outdo the Ark of the Covenant in the next two films (and we will do our best to forget those crystal skulls…).
Now a lot of the copies (like The Jewel of the Nile or the Armor of God films) focused instead on some incredibly valuable treasure, or one with important historical or political connections.
But some of them…well, that just wasn’t good enough. They had to outdo Lucas and Spielberg at the religious artifact game, no matter how absurd their efforts might be.
And they don’t get much more absurd than Crystal Triangle.
I’ll admit that it does help boost the absurdity levels that we are talking an Anime film — and, I believe, one released direct to video. It was quite a large market back in the Eighties, and the Japanese studios were busy churning out hour after hour of animated series and features for the OVA (original video animation) market.
At any rate, we’ve got a brilliant archaeology professor, Koichiro Kamishiro, who is on the track of a mysterious artifact which supposedly relates to God’s last message.
Yes, that God. The one from the Old Testament. But there’s something he didn’t get around to telling Moses.
At any rate, it’s the incredible secret, it’s been passed down from one powerful historical figure to another, yadda, yadda, yadda.
But it really doesn’t matter what he’s after, just so long as it gives him a chance to deal with a sexy American agent, an over-the-top Anime villain Russian agent (who will of course get to be noble by the end. Naturally), and an evil order of monks who are either demons (bakemono) or aliens from another dimension or something like that.
Of course, he’s got a few people helping, including a couple of student aides (one of whom is practically drooling over him), a mystery girl, and a yakuza assigned as his bodyguard.
After a lot of special effects and magic, and a wild trip over half the world, we finally reach the climax, with features the usual ancient buried spaceship, and an all-out battle featuring tanks, planes, and whole armies. I’ll admit I’m moderately impressed that it features realistic Mig 29 fighters, F-15 Eagles, Tomcats and Hind Helicopters, along with a lot of other recognizable military hardware.
Then it turns out that God is a giant alien caterpillar.
It’s hard to top that, and to their credit they don’t really try. The message turns out to be far less exciting than everyone has been suggesting and it is basically intended for a single individual.
It’s like all the most powerful people in history just got someone else’s email.
Oh, well. At least it gave them the opportunity to throw bits of Japanese legend and UFO conspiracy theories in with a lot of dubious historical claims. The end result isn’t that bad, but there are a lot better animes out there.
Even some of the ones on OVA.