Before Megazone 23: The Early Mecha & Character Designs of Omega City 23

A few years ago I acquired an early pitch document for Omega City 23, an early iteration of Megazone 23 that was planned as a TV show. Unfortunately, Omega City 23 got shopped around to sponsors around the same time the bottom was dropping out of the TV mecha market in the mid-’80s. With TV sponsors less interested in new shows and video anime gaining traction, Omega City 23 went through a series of changes before finally emerging on video as Megazone 23 in 1985.

Nailing down a precise timeline of the production for Omega City 23 (later known as Vanity City and Omega Zone 23 at times before its final title) is difficult and in books like the Megazone 23 B-Club Special or ARTMIC Design Works, early production material that was included seemed to be a mishmash from different points of development. While most of the design elements published in those books seem to have come from the later stages of development, the pitch document I shared in 2017 was one of the earliest iterations of the project, based on its lack of more consistent later elements like the character Eve Tokimatsuri (though the character known as ‘The Nine-o’clock Woman’ seems to fill a similar role in that early outline).

Since publishing that first pitch document I’ve won a couple of other auctions containing early Omega City 23 design material. The first of these auctions contained a later Omega City 23 pitch document and some character designs, while the other consisted of both early character designs and mechanical designs. The character art in both of these sets has a lot of overlap and seems to have been illustrated by Toshiki Hirano (the character designer for Megazone 23 and creator of Iczer-1 [1985]) and based on some very squiggly signatures, looks to have been drawn in 1984. The character names from both of these sets match (but don’t match the earlier pitch document) and one can assume then, that the material from these two auctions were from roughly the same period of development.

Omega City 23 production sketches from ARTMIC Design Works. Notice the orthographic illustration comparing the profile of the Garland and Ride Armor from MOSPEADA.

Full scans of this artwork can be found below. Because of the similar period and crossover, I didn’t think it was necessary to specify which bit of art came from which set. I also haven’t had the later pitch document translated, as I’m not sure there’s a need for it. Perhaps at some point in the future I’ll take a closer look and catalog the differences between it and the earlier pitch document I shared in 2017. I suspect there isn’t a huge demand for a step-by-step look at the development of Megazone 23. Perhaps I’m wrong.

It’s worth noting that the character designs are similar to the final characters seen in Megazone 23 (and at least one of the names is the same as the final version), but the style seems deeply rooted in that early ‘80s TV anime look. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d suggest that dated TV character lineage might have been the reason that Megazone 23 Pt. II overhauled the character designs so dramatically.

Similarly, the mecha designs (credited to Hideki Kakinuma and Shinji Aramaki) are decidedly in step with the ARTMIC “look” of the era, although some seem more in tune with designs seen in the earlier Genesis Climber MOSPEADA [1983] and others look more like ARTMIC’s OVA-era look, though that’s splitting hairs. It’s worth noting that the Garland in this iteration was a hoverbike (again, very early ‘80s TV anime), a design quirk that seemed to hang around until relatively late in production.

A Note on Translations
I made some quick and rough translations for the mecha included below but didn’t translate any of the handwritten text as it was hard to read and I’m unsure if it would really add much. For the character designs, I didn’t translate the names simply because the kanji for names can be read in multiple ways, and I’m not sure if it’s worthwhile for me to take a shot in the dark at how to read them. That said, keep an eye out for the early design of Eve (look for the katakana ‘イブ’) to compare to the very, very different Haruhiko Mikimoto version in the final OVA.

Omega City 23 Character Designs

Omega City 23 Mecha Designs