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What the hell is Daicon?

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You may have heard the name "Daicon" before, perhaps from an anime trivia quiz, or your smartass friend who likes to flaunt his old-school otaku knowledge. During those moments, you've probably wondered to yourself, "What the hell is Daicon anyway? Isn't it some kind of radish?" Well, wonder no more. I'm here to share with you the story of Daicon, and how it fits into anime history. Then, you can show your smartass friend who's boss... at least, until he pulls out an obscure piece of trivia about Armored Trooper Votoms.

PREPARE FOR INFORMATION ASSAULT AFTER THE BREAK!

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The year is 1981.

The place... Babylon 5 Osaka, Japan.

The Nihon SF Taikai convention is one of the largest science-fiction conventions in Japan. They're planning on holding their 3rd annual Osaka con under the name of Daicon III, but they need a promotional video for the opening festivities. They wind up contracting three novice animators, fresh out of college, named Hideaki Anno, Hiroyuki Yamaga and Takami Akai. With the help of the convention's volunteer staff, these three create a five-minute 8mm film, known as the Daicon III Opening Animation.

 
Looks pretty crappy, doesn't it? Well, keep in mind it was created by amateurs with no previous animation experience and a shoestring budget. Given those circumstances, they did a pretty good job. Also, did you notice all the cameos by famous monsters, mechs and starships? Perfect fodder to impress the denizens of a sci-fi con, to be sure. Despite its subpar animation, Daicon III turns out to be a big success.
 
 
The year is 1983.

The place is Osaka, Japan... again.

The Taikai convention is back as Daicon IV. Meanwhile, Anno, Yamaga and Akai have been gaining animation experience by working on a little show called The Super Dimension Fortress Macross. The folks running the con need another opening animation, and Anno & Company are more than happy to oblige. With the help of a few other staff members from Macross (such as Yoshiyuki Sadamoto and Mahiro Maeda), they create the Daicon IV Opening Animation. This six-minute film features the winning combination of Electric Light Orchestra music, a superpowered bunnygirl, and enough pop-culture references to give even the most flaccid otaku a nerdgasm of epic proportions.

 
Quite an improvement, eh? Can you name all the cameos? I sure as hell can't.
 
Daicon IV is a huge success, and instantly makes Anno & Company famous... so much so that they're able to secure funding from Bandai, and form their own studio called Daicon Film. Two years later, in the midst of producing the most expensive anime movie ever made, this studio changes their name, and becomes known as *drumroll* Gainax!
 
Yup, that's how the folks who brought you such timeless classics as Evangelion, Gurren Lagann and Hanamaru Kindergarten got their start. As for the Daicon films themselves, they are currently out of print... you know, due to some legal gibberish involving unauthorized use of ELO music and the Playboy Bunny costume. The videos you saw above were ripped and remastered from a rare Daicon laserdisc that was shipped with an artbook. If you ever happen to see one selling for cheap at an anime con, pick it up for me, okay?
 
Anyhoo, if you want to learn more about Daicon, check out the useful resources linked below. I've also included some Daicon fanart, artbook scans and cosplay in the gallery. Now, get out there and teach your trivia-spouting friend a thing or two!
 


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Jon Snyder
Jon Snyder   gamer profile

Formerly known as Jenny. more + disclosures


 



Filed under... #anime #Gainax #History #TV and Film

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