Daicon Films

One might wonder what a review of an amateurish set of fan films might be doing on a page committed to quality animation. However, the Diacon films are to modern Japanese animation as "Steamboat Willie" is to the Disney legacy. Both were relatively crude, both were made for little money, and both launched the careers of animators now world renowned. If you are a fan of Wings of Honneamise, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Nadia, His and Her Circumstances, FLCL, or any other of Studio Gainax's fantastic material, you owe it to yourself to seek out where it all started.

The Daicon films are shorts, running 3-5 minutes each, that are essentially massive parodies. Most of them star the Diacon bunny, a cute anonymous anime character dressed up in the infamous getup from Hugh Hefner's magazine. Although relatively short on plot, they scream through literally hundreds of anime characters, famous Japanese personalities, and shows. Any old-school fan will find tons of in-jokes as beloved shows appear momentarily to be skewered, as well as plenty of radish references (for "daicon" also has that meaning in Japanese).

The films, which were created by fans for the Diacon conventions in Japan, are surprisingly well-animated for amateur productions. Those who are familiar with the rag-tag group of animators involved with the Diacon films know that they went from there to producing another short - this time, one submitted for financing a much bigger production, known as Wings of Honneamise. With this picture, Gainax was born. From there, the company has gone on to produce some of the most creative, most loved, and most infamous animation ever to come out of Japan.

Because the short films are getting close to the 20 year mark and are still amateur productions, I know of no direct distribution of them. Availability even through older animation clubs that have ancient copies is becoming rare, and those copies usually look terrible. Nevertheless, for the completist, the Gainax fan, or those intrigued by the concept, the Diacon films are worth tracking down. Although many of the parodies will fly right over the heads of some modern Western fans who have seen little of the total anime canon, even then they are wonderfully funny. For those who have been around a while, it's a real treat.

Daicon Films -- nothing objectionable -- A