Bagi, the Monster of Mighty Nature (大自然の魔獣 バギ Daishizen no Majū Bagi?) is an anime movie that premiered on the Nippon Television network on August 19, 1984. It was written by Osamu Tezuka as a critique of the Japanese government's approval of recombinant DNA research that year.
Deep in the South American jungle, a Japanese hunter named Ryosuke (Ryo for short) and a local boy named Chico stalk a monster that has been terrorizing the local countryside. Ryo, however, is quite familiar with this beast, and the story flashes back to his childhood.
Teenage Ryosuke Ishigami, the delinquent son of a crime reporter and a geneticist, is out with a motorcycle gang when they encounter a mysterious woman. Some of the rougher members of the gang accost her, and she turns out to be anything but normal, landing the gang with serious injuries. The gang leader returns to the woman's hideout for revenge, but the gang members are torn apart, except for Ryosuke.
The woman is not really human at all, but a catgirl named Bagi — and it was Ryosuke himself who had rescued her and raised her as a kitten. As Bagi grew and people became suspicious of the precocious "cat", who was able to walk on her hind legs and even learned to write her own name and speak, she escaped and grew to adulthood on her own.
Upon their reunion, Ryosuke and Bagi join forces to find out the truth of her origins. Ryosuke's own mother is found responsible for Bagi's creation — Bagi is a product of recombinant DNA research between human and mountain lion cells. They then follow Ryosuke's mother to South America to confront her about the reason for Bagi's existence, but find a far greater peril. The officials in charge of the laboratories there are creating a strain of rice that has the potential to destroy humanity. Ryosuke's mother sacrifices her life to have Bagi destroy the "Rice Ball" and Ryosuke mistakenly pins the blame on Bagi, vowing revenge.
Meanwhile, Bagi is quickly losing her human traits and becomes extremely feral, attacking any humans that come near. When Ryosuke catches up to her, he stabs her only to find out that Bagi has actually the one entrusted with his mother's final words in the form of a hand-written note held in a locket around her neck. The next morning the body of Bagi is gone, with footprints leading off to the distant mountains, and Ryosuke is content to pray for Bagi to live on in solitude far away from mankind.
Characters (In order of appearance)
- Ryo / Ryosuke Ishigami
- A young Japanese man who was in a member of a biker gang and does not care much about his future, as his parents were both busy working. His father is a crime reporter, while his mother, Prof. Ishigami, works in a laboratory without mentioning much about it nor coming back home often.
- He reunites with Bagi on his 15th birthday and becomes a hunter five years later. Bagi was his "pet" when she was not yet fully grown.
- Chiko / Chico
- A Mexican boy who suspects that Bagi killed his father and decided to take revenge on his own first. He then meets Ryo and gave him information about a possible sighting of Bagi. This might not be the child's real name, as 'Chico' is also a somewhat affectionate reference to males in the Spanish language. He wears a sombrero and is skilled in the use of bolas.
- A pink cat-woman genetically modified with the DNA of a puma (her specific origin is not divulged in the story). She and her mother were the only living animal survivors of the lab animal outbreak at the Center, but her mother was eventually hunted down. Bagi's wandering ended in becoming Ryo's "pet cat". Ryo's family eventually recognized that Bagi had become "overgrown" and so she left for nine years and disguised herself as a human girl to find those of her kind, until she met Ryo again.
- Bagi's physical abilities: high jump, wall jump, long leap, aerial somersault, abnormally-powerful tail-swing, ground burrowing, writing, and reading.
- Her mental abilities: human intelligence, perception and understanding of linguistic, psychological and social stimuli with their responses, quick wit, and hypnotism.
- Prof. Ishigami
- Ryo's mother as well as an important leading research professor at the SuperLife Center, believing that anything could be improved with science. She was responsible for the creation of Bagi and her kind. After the President forced her to mass-produce the poisonous rice balls, she had a change of heart due to feelings of guilt, and decided to follow her conscience. She is killed, but not by Bagi as Ryo mistakenly assumes. In her last letter, she expresses great regrets about being a bad scientist and a bad mother.
- The Chief
- The man in charge of the SuperLife Center, who is cunning and ambitious. He has a short, almost comical stature (possibly from dwarfism) with long hair that sticks up in a fashion similar to that of Albert Einstein and a small moustache similar to that of Adolf Hitler. He explains Bagi's origins after she and Ryo infiltrate the Center, then is hypnotized into arranging transport for them to South America to meet with Professor Ishigami.
- Colonel Sado
- The head of the Imperial Guards of Monica. He has a habit of stroking his mustache with both hands (The left had for the left side and the right hand for the right side) He is encountered mistaking Ryo and a driver for rebels after he and Bagi highjack a circus truck via Bagi's hypnosis. After making Bagi perform a jump through a thirty-meter flaming coil (Through threat of exicution), he knocks Bagi and Ryo out and takes them to the Cucaracha Research Lab without their knowledge. He's seen again with the President as he and Professor Ishigami discuss the change in the genetically-engineered rice before they found out it had a strong poison in it. When Ryo tried to escape, Sado attempted to start a sword fight with him. This leads to doing so on a pair of bikes. Sado meets his possible end when he falls off the tower of the Research Lab. It is also possible that he may have survived.
- The President of Monica
- The malevolent president of the North American country where the Cucaracha Research Lab is located, he is rather heavyset and dresses in gaudy attire, including a robe that appears to be made from dyed animal tails. He comes to inspect the work being done at the Research Lab, and then gets the idea to use a poisonous genetically-engineered rice created there to eliminate guerrilla rebels that have been opposing his government for years, as well as anyone else who opposes him. When Prof. Ishigami refuses to cooperate with his plan, he has her killed by his attack dogs. His plans are ultimately defeated thanks to Bagi and Ryo, Bagi escaping the lab with the only samples of the rice while Ryo destroyed the lab.
- Cemen Bond
- The man responsible for keeping Ryo in custody at the Cucaracha Research Lab, known for his remarkable marksmanship. His decisions solely depend on coin flipping. Following Ryo's escape from the Research Lab, he is fired and then agrees to teach the boy everything he knows about shooting. He appears to be a loose parody of James Bond, evidenced by his last name and music that plays during most of his appearances.
Currently, the anime has not received official distribution in North America in any form at all, save a subtitled version available for viewing on YouTube. However, it has been released in other countries, but as of 2010, an official English dub has not yet been produced.
- Osamu Tezuka
- List of Osamu Tezuka anime
- List of Osamu Tezuka manga
- Osamu Tezuka's Star System
- Bagi, Boss of the Earth