Before Sonic, before ToeJam & Earl , before Joe Musashi and even a few months before Alex Kidd, SEGA’s mascot was a sentient little spaceship called Opa-Opa, hero of the Fantasy Zone. Though there’s some debate regarding who was the “true” mascot before Sonic came around, I personally put myself in Opa-Opa’s camp. Why? Well, aside from cameoing in a bunch of SEGA games from the ‘80s, a few of which you can read about here, Opa-Opa was also a supporting character in an anime SEGA partially funded, Zillion.
Zillion is a 1987 sci-fi anime from Tatsunoku Productions. It centers around White Knight J.J. and his fellow White Knights Apple and Champ as they defend the earth colony Maris from the evil Nozas, an alien race intent on wiping humans off the face of the planet. The White Knights battle the forces of evil with their signature weapon, the Zillion Weapon System, a Master System light gun (literally, complete with the cord) capable of destroying the Nozas, who are otherwise invulnerable to human weaponry.
The plot isn’t really all that original, but from what I’ve seen the series itself actually isn’t half bad. The series had a brief stint in America in the early 1990s when Streamline Pictures (the company that originally dubbed Akira) dubbed and imported the first five episodes of the series and released them here on home video. These first five episodes, as well as fan subbed versions of the rest of the series, can easily be found on Youtube if you want to give the series a look.
Within the series, Opa-Opa is a sentient “helper” bot built by Dave, the team’s mechanic. This version of Opa-Opa has no weapons and in stark contrast to his video game counterpart is completely useless in battle. Early in the series, Opa-Opa tends to be little more than window dressing. As the series goes on Opa-Opa plays a larger part in the story, eventually even starring in his own episode alongside the main cast and receiving a “brother”, Upa Upa.
Though the character lacks the power of his video game counterpart he still acts the same way I always thought he would in the games: cute and optimistic. Going by the one episode I’ve seen featuring him prominently, he’s probably my favorite character in the show: he’s also eager to help, going so far as to suicidally charge into a hopeless battle to protect his friends, who were being raging douchebags to him at the time. He may not pack the firepower of the Opa-Opa we know and love, but he certainly packs the spirit!
Every Master System fan owes it to themselves to watch at least some of Zillion at some point, if only for the Master System product placement. This show is probably second only to Regular Show in terms of animated Master System love. Not to mention, Zillion itself also got two exclusive Master System games from SEGA, the first of which tends to be considered one of the Master System’s classics.
The series itself is no classic, but from what I’ve seen it certainly is fun. On top of that, it’s great seeing Opa-Opa animated, especially since they do occasionally have fun with the character. If you want to see the Opa-Opa centric episode of Zillion, I’ve got a fan subbed version of the episode embedded below. If you’re interested in checking out the series from episode one starting with the English dub, you can check it out here. Just be forewarned: the dub Americanizes the dialogue a little too much for my taste, it only covers the first five episodes and the sequel OVA, and Opa-Opa is barely seen in the early episodes.Ad: