Inochi no tabi is Japanese for "life's journey." It's the name of the ending theme of "Uchuu Senshi Baldios"--an anime series that came into my own inochi no tabi in 1980, and has been part of the trip ever since.
"Baldios" and I both debuted in Japan on June 30, 1980--"Baldios" as a TV series, and me as an exchange student. That evening, finally reaching a hotel near Haneda after clearing customs (a visa was required just to enter Japan from the U.S. back then), the rest of the exchange students trooped off to the welcome dinner. I begged off sick, holed up alone in the hotel room--and then flung myself down in front of the TV, eager to find some actual Japanese cartoons! Tuned in just in time to catch the ending of a special on the "Ashita no Joe" movie. And hot on its heels came the first episode of "Uchuu Senshi Baldios."
It was the first time I'd seen an anime opening title in Japanese. I had collected the Shogun Warriors toys that Mattel had repackaged for U.S. consumption, and had imagined what the original Great Mazinger and Getta Robo and Gaiking and ComBattler must be like...but the "Baldios" opening titles and theme song were nothing like that.
And in the episode, characters actually died! I had imagined that things like this were cut from the sanitized versions of "Yamato" and "Gatchaman" then airing in the U.S.--but actually seeing it happen was a shock, especially for someone raised on "Crusader Rabbit" and "Scooby-Doo." The stunningly alien goings-on had my mind racing, trying to dope out what was happening. And then came the ending theme, so sad-sounding... What the heck had I just seen? And could I see more of it?
Fortunately, it turned out I could, thanks to my Japanese host family being sympathetic to my anime-ogling needs. ;^)
Being apart from my family for the first time (and remember, this was back in the Dark Ages before the Internet), and trying to cope with culture shock, I really came to identify with Marine, the story's protagonist, in the weeks that followed. To this day, "Baldios" reminds me of that old disorienting feeling of trying to figure things out and get along in a world that parallels your own in so many ways but yet is so jarringly different in others.
"Baldios" outlasted my stay. Once back home, trying to find the rest of its episodes, its movie compilation, and anything at all else to do with it was pretty hopeless in those dawning days of anime fandom in the U.S. To own an actual "Baldios" cel seemed like a downright impossible dream...but in 1982, Ed Noonchester made that dream come true by selling me a Marine cel with background from his own collection!
I only found two more "Baldios" cels in the U.S. over the years (but I did finally get to see the whole TV series, thanks to its Japanese LD box set release in 1993). In 2000, though, I was able to move to Japan to work--and have been searching out "Baldios" goodies here ever since!
Although I can't share my first three "Baldios" cels (they're currently in storage in the U.S.), I've been lucky to find several more here in Japan. In keeping with the show's original Monday-evening airtime, from January 2009 to June 2010 I posted a cel or other piece of production art each Monday evening Japan time. (Episodes are numbered in production order, which differs slightly from broadcast order for a few episodes: Episode 26 aired as #24, Episode 24 aired as #25, Episode 25 aired as #26, and Episode 32 aired as #31.) Took a break after that, but am back now, and will be posting the rest of my collection at a much more leisurely pace.
Posting them is a fun chance to write about them (and rewatch episodes in the name of research ;^) ), and I hope someone else out there might enjoy seeing them, too.
Please note: Astonishing but true, 2012 marks my 30th year of collecting "Baldios" cels. I'm happy to hear from others who love "Baldios" too! However, please understand that my collection is not a store--just an obsession. ;^)
News & Updates
Today I added a super-nice cel of Marine to the section for Episode 23, and an Aphrodia douga to the "Not-Yet-ID'ed Baldios Production Art" section. Hope to be back soon--need to get a new scanner in the meantime!
Added a cel of Marine to the "Baldios TV Credits, Opening" section, and a douga of Ella Quinstein to the "Not-Yet-ID'ed Baldios Production Art" section.
Today I added a key cel of Baldios to the "Not-Yet-ID'ed Baldios Production Art" section.
Added a cel of Marine to the "Baldios TV Credits, Opening" section, and a douga of Gattlar and Aphrodia to the "Not-Yet-ID'ed Baldios Production Art" section (it was in the movie, but I need to see if it first appeared in an episode).