My Favorite Animated Soviet: Gunbuster’s Jung Freud

Posted by John Martone on May 28, 2009 in Animation |

Gunbuster's Jung Freud relaxing

As most fans of the series will tell you, there’s just something magical about Gunbuster. Also known as Aim for the Ace!, Gunbuster was a six episode OVA released by the mostly unknown Gainax in 1988. The show also marked the directorial debut of Hideaki Anno, who’d go on to create other fascinating shows like Evangelion. True to that form, Gunbuster is also a series where the robots and monsters are merely the pretense to show kids growing up/dealing with their problems. Among them, is Jung Freud, my favorite Soviet.

The level of ridiculousness and overkill intrinsic to Gunbuster is reason enough to check it out. “Space monsters,” a mass of nearly unstoppable, endless swarm of insects are slowly making their way to Earth. Humanity seems outclassed by this destructive swarm, but  Luckily, due to the somewhat accurate portrayal of space travel, we have decades to prepare for them. Since it will take them that long to get here, humanity has placed almost all of its resources toward training the pilots who will be around to fight them… viola, there’s the “plot” of Gunbuster.

Super cute science explainations that go at the end of each episode

The real plot centers around a coming of age story skewed by temporal distortions. Using actual science (wow!) the show put into practice that traveling faster than the speed of light slows the rate at which time proceeds. The main character becomes unhinged from the regular flow of her human life, since her missions take years to perform, yet only days/weeks for her. After one mission she became closer in age to her friends daughter than the friend herself. The gripping emotional turmoil of a character whom has no anchor in reality is quite enthralling.

But what about the Soviets? Though more of a tertiary character, the series quickly introduces the genius rival of the protagonist, Jung Freud. An obvious nod to the psychologist’s Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, “Jung Freud” also hails from the Soviet Union.

The girls look at Noriko with disgust for being a terrible pilot

Okay, I’m going to stop and explain how novel this is to me. Watching this series on degraded VHS tapes in the year 2000, it was hard for me to wrap my head around the concept of the Soviet Union, let alone it continuing on for another half a century. Imagine my surprise when Freud is actually more than fanservice wrapped in a stereotype, but is a respected and fleshed out character. Her own foibles played in fast foward, we see the image of a woman whom just “happens” to be unabashedly Soviet. Back in the wondrous year of 1988, the literature reflected a society capable of projecting respect on a now defunct concept/country. Fun factoid, Jung Freud is also seen as the prototype for more well known Asuka Langley Soryu. Though, for the record, I’d choose Jung over Asuka any day. Too much baggage in my opinion.

Jung Freud’s positive points
1) A serious Soviet, no matter how fanservice she performs
2) Predecessor to themes and characters in Evangelion
3) Helped pioneer the “Gainax bounce”
4) Goes from jerk, to rival, to best friend in two episodes (cuts out a lot of the not fun parts)
5) Gives you a reason to say “Jung” and “Freud” more often

Below: The opening titles from Gunbuster combine the coolness of 80s anime with a boggie Jazzercise beat…

John Martone is Texas based writer bent on creating odd plays. When not doing that he disassembles plot lines for the enjoyment of the internet.

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