HERE'S AN INTERESTING, OBSCURE, PIECE OF ANIME HISTORY.Yesterday, Mayukh, some teenaged guy somewhere whose hobby seems to bothering me on AIM asking me if know about every obscure anime or manga ever produced (just kidding; I enjoy looking up stuff for him) asked me about something called Daicon from GAINAX, the studio responsible for Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and FLCL, among other things, and he gave me this link to Anime New Network's Encyclopedia's entry on Daicon.
I told him I hadn't heard of it and I was wondering if it was a new GAINAX production, so I did a Google search for "Daicon" and found this French site, which has both Daicon shorts in fairly high-quality Real Video format (high quality by Real video standards, at least). It turned out that these aren't anything "new" from GAINAX. Quite the contrary; they're the first things GAINAX ever did together, back when they weren't a professional studio but just anime fans, and they were done for the Japan National Sci-Fi Convention, which, when it's held in Osaka, is called "Daicon". They're the opening animations for the 20th and 22nd such events, held in 1981 and 1983, and they led to GAINAX becoming a proper studio and doing the film Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise (which I didn't care much for, but that's neither here nor there).
The first one seemed a bit familiar, with a girl running with a cup of water to feed her radish ("daikon" is also Japanese for "radish") and fighting a bunch of Zaku and other Gundam-type mechs. It seemed like something I had seen before, but there was something missing. The second one had the missing bit: the now grown-up girl, in a Playboy bunny-type outfit, fighting Darth Vader with Stormtroopers watching in the background and she flies like Silver Surfer on her magic sword while dozens of other anime and American sci-fi characters appear in cameos over the course of four minutes and twenty-three seconds, all set to the strains of Electric Light Orchestra's "Prologue" and "Twilight". Sylvio showed that clip a couple of times during breaks at the old Fanimation-Animania/Animate/Animé Central club over at Université de Montréal.
As much as it's from GAINAX, and probably a direct precursor to their Otaku no Video (which I've never gotten around to seeing), if you take the two shorts together, it reminds me very much of the classic anime comedy film, Project A-Ko (which both clips predate), with a young-but-powerful girl fighting a bunch of mechas in the first half, and one of those maniacally-paced "everything but the kitchen sink" sequences with a rapidly changing perspective that you find a lot in 1980s anime comedy feature films, like the aerial sequence in Project A-Ko when she's hopscotching across the missiles, or the scene at the beginning of Urusei Yatsura: Only You, when Mendou's entire military-like security forces scramble to deliver that one letter to him. They just don't have sequences like that in anime anymore, it seems. They have a dynamic perspective in those sort of sequences, but the animation itself is less fluid than the "camera" wants to be, making the transition between "shots" very jumpy, but, somehow, that made it cheesy-yet-exciting. Anime films today have much smoother animation for dynamic camera shots, which are often largely computer-animated, so the anarchic "jumpiness" that gave those sorts of sequences a lot of their appeal just isn't there anymore, which I think is a shame.
Here's the official GAINAX Daicon page, which they only have in Japanese, and you can download an MPEG version of the second one from this sub-page (EDIT: It's just the parts of the clip that don't violate anyone else's copyrights, so no Darth Vader, no Alien, and no ELO music).
EDIT: Somehow I neglected to mention that they're directed by Hideaki Anno. And the lead character designer is Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, but they don't look much at all like his later designs in Nadia and Neon Genesis Evangelion.