The story begins as a hapless youth is snatched right off his motorcycle and transported to the otherworldly realm of Byston Well. Swallowed by a giant, ghostly white swan, he is taken on a lurid voyage through dimensions unknown before being unceremoniously dumped into the middle of a bloody slave revolt...buck naked.
Manifesting ethereal "wings of light" that spring from his ankles in times of peril, Christopher is accepted by the oppressed Metomeus tribe as their prophesied hero, gifted with the legendary wings of Garzey. Unfortunately, his status as savior cuts him no slack. He still has to carry his weight by hacking ineptly through the ranks of the tyrannical Ashicaba army, slogging through the beast-infested swamplands, and pushing refugee rafts down the river, all the while enduring sneers from the battle-hardened Metomeus warriors. Well, at least they give him a sword and a potato sack to wear.
Once Christopher gets over little details like being summoned to Byston Well by a bell-ringing priestess, accidentally dragging an equally-confused winged fairy along with him in transit, and being hunted like an animal by monster-riding Ashicaba troops, there is the rather bizarre revelation that he has not actually left Earth at all. Rather, Christopher has been split in two...one self remains on Earth, going about its daily routine, while the other is wandering through the marsh dodging arrows and crude gunpowder bombs. The two Christophers can even talk to each other, which is handy for researching explosives technology but does not do wonders for one's sense of identity. Eventually Christopher begins to get a handle on the situation and begins his transformation from a befuddled boob into the hero the fugitive Metomeus so desperately need. But how can you go home again if you're already there?
For goddess' sakes, does Yoshiyuki Tomino have only one bloody story in his head!??!?! How many times do we need to see some kid get yanked out of a calm life into the middle of a big conflict, realise he/she has some special powers all of a sudden (and automatically knows how to use them) and just accepts all the weirdass shit happening around them, thereby becoming the hero...I swear, there has yet to be a Tomino story that does NOT follow this formula. ENOUGH WITH THE BLOODY KID HEROES!!
*sigh* Okay, that felt good. I'm starting to think that William Gibson and Yoshiyuki Tomino need to sit down and talk a few things over about their storytelling...fleshing out a fantasy world with cool stuff that is totally new to us is all well and good, but make DAMNED sure you explain the stuff or you'll just be pissing off your audience. Gibson (who I revere, despite his flaws) has learned this lesson over the years, while Tomino evidently hasn't. His biggest mistake in this respect was the story (if you can even call it that) of Brain Powerd--sure the people talk about these things like Orphen and Anti Bodies like they're perfectly normal parts of their lives, but unless we get some info about them (which we didn't until way later, and pretty pathetic stuff at that) all these cool terms and fancy props do is confound us...and such is the case with many scenes in Garzey Wing, another work by the creator of Gundam, and an attempt to delve into the fantasy realm of storytelling.
True to Tomino's other works, we start out with a fairly normal guy (Christopher, 19, is thankfully NOT a kid hero) who gets carted off to some weird fantasy world where he must help a group of revolutionaries escape their monster-riding Ashikaba masters...and hopefully find some clothes somewhere (Sarcasm: Hey, *I* sure didn't mind! ^_^). After a lightspeed-fast start, Chris quickly gets his bearing and, realising that he's not getting home anytime soon (not to mention the impending danger of a rather large army who he has just made an enemy of), decides to join the fight for freedom. At least he's just as confused as the rest of us, but thankfully he doesn't slip into "Nagisa" mode and start whining about wanting to go home, or not understanding any of it...he sees he's in danger and responds like any sensible person would, by dealing with events as they occur, which is quite the anomaly in anime it seems. Another nice change is that while he seems to be some sort of "Holy Knight" with mystical powers, he really has no clue how to use them except on instinct, so it takes a little while before he really gets into the shit-kicking-hero mode, but he does eventually.
I REALLY could do without Tomino's obscure storytelling style, which by now he is in desperate need of revising (or outright changing), but he actually managed to pull off another winner with Garzey's Wing. Like Gundam before it, you need to have the patience to put up with the shock of the rather jarring introduction, but once you get your bearings you'll see there is a really good story there with plenty of interesting characters to watch, good animation and (in this case, at least) an excellent musical score. I am somewhat disappointed with the length, as this is a tale that could (and, in the case of the manga, did) go on further than the three OVAs we see here, but they still managed to tell a good portion of the story and give some closure by the end. While Tomino may have his flaws, I'm still willing to forgive him for most of them, as Garzey's Wing is proof that he does have SOME idea of what he's doing. If you're looking for a good one-shot fantasy tale, look no further. Recommended.
Available subbed or dubbed from Central Park Media.