Aoi Honoo, often translated as Blue Blazes for reasons that will make sense in a bit, is an 11 Episode Live Action Japanese Drama series bases off the Fictionalized Biography of Kazuhiko Shimamoto, telling the events of his life, or rather that of Honoo Moyuru, a sort-of self insert character who had previously stared in the manga Moeyo Pen, Hoero Pen, and Shin Hoero Pen, during his Freshman and part of his Sophomore years in College from 1980-1981 alongside the authors actual classmates: Most of the people who would go on to found the anime Studio Gainax, including Hideaki Anno himself. Kazuhiko Shimamoto is known for, among a large list of things he’s done, making the manga Honoo no Tenkousei, often translated as Blazing Transfer Student, hence the “Blaze” in Aoi Honno‘s translation, which served as one of the major inspirations for at least the start of the anime Kill la Kill which, perhaps ironically, was made by Studio Trigger, a studio formed by people who had been working at Gainax.
Gainax also made an OVA of it. Produced by Anno.
Honoo Moyuru starts college overconfident and egotistical, thinking that he had the ability to do whatever he tried. As the author he is the stand in for once wrote, “Blazing men don’t know their own limits.” He gets to one of his first classes and they are given an assignment to make a flipbook as animation practice and he makes a rather basic one with someone running towards the viewer. Someone else in the class makes something that takes the entire class by storm. Honoo is, well, surprised that is classmate is so much more skilled than he is already.
Honoo’s reactions are… Dynamic.
This other classmate is, of course, Hideaki Anno and this encounter starts a long and fiery rivalry between the two.
I mean a long and fiery PERCEIVED rivalry on Honoo’s end. Most of what he does for the rest of the series, from making his own animation for a class project to pushing to try to get a manga published to even just getting a Driver’s License, is done to somehow prove to really just his own inner monologue that he is better than Anno. His struggles at this seem real and, in a few places, too close to home. Taking on too much work by yourself and running out of time to do it. Stopping all work because of a hurdle you can’t seem to overcome. Getting distracted and working on something completely different and running out of time. Falling in to despair when it seemed like no one liked what you put so much work in to.
Maybe it’s because I have to deal with a lot of these kinds of problems myself, but this allowed me to really connect with Honoo and, given the historical context even though it’s suppose to be fictional, gives me a bit of hope that I may too overcome my issues and reach greatness.
On the other side of things we have Anno who, with a few of his friends, Takami Akai(Creator of the Princess Maker game series) and Hiroyuki Yamaga(Producer of several Gainax works, Creator and Director of Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise) as the trio of them get asked to make an anime opening for the Daicon III convention.
It’s interesting to watch how little Honoo is on any of theirs minds, even Anno’s, although Anno is depicted as being a really weird guy so there’s no knowing if he noticed Honoo’s self-imposed rivalry.
All in all it’s an interesting story, a snapshot of time when people who would go on to shape industry and fandom were still only starting out, not knowing what the future would hold. I don’t want to get into much more detail then this because, well most of it IS history and I’d like interested people to check it out themselves. I don’t give scores because they don’t do anything to actually detail how good something is, but I liked this a lot and I’m glad I watched it.