Repetition and archetype are the two adjectives that immediately jump out at me when I think of the old Saturday morning adventure cartoons I watched as a kid. I had to catch the shows week to week so their episodes all resolved around the show’s core premise. The crew of characters are out on some mission or embroiled in some conflict and engage in one off adventures. There is a fair amount of repetition in the episodes which usually climaxed with an action set piece, which afterwards the story was reset. Characters fit nicely into boxes: serious (and usually male) protagonist, goofy comic relief, romantic interest and a shrill girl. That last character is usually always contentious with the other characters, is the butt of jokes, and is wrong in any given situation. These were shows made for boys and misogyny was ingrained in us early.
These structures allowed me to engage with whatever show I was watching, no matter what the premise was. They also governed my initial impressions of Space Runaway Ideon, an anime from the 80s that at first resembled those Saturday morning adventures. My anime knowledge is strictly Toonami related (putting me in the 90s-early 2000s) so I was taken aback when this show felt more like Voltron. The Earth colonists of the planet Logo Dau find ancient vehicles that resemble trucks that form into a giant robot. The earthlings are attacked by aliens known as the Buff Clan, who want the weapons for themselves. The Buff Clan attacks, gets rebuffed by our child protagonists piloting the robot, and retreat to fight another day. The show eventually becomes so much more than that and really exceeded my expectations. Ideon grapples with national identity, imperialism, and ecological destruction over 39 episodes. While there are plenty of memorable characters, none of them stood out to me as much as Kasha.
Starting the show, I thought I knew exactly what Kasha’s arc would be. She’s part of the group of children from Logo Dau who were destined to pilot the robots. She’s strong willed meaning that the other boys of the group minimize everything she says (lots of “what would girls even know about this?” sort of stuff). She has an antagonistic relationship with Cosmo (our boy protagonist) which in my predictions meant she would end up as the fake out love interest. I thought Ideon was setting her up to be a thorn in the side of the group, the girl who displays reticence in opposition to the boy’s courage and ends up getting dragged for it. The show had vastly different plans.
Kasha ends up being the most blood thirsty character on the Solo ship (the ship that houses our protagonists). She becomes the main pilot for the legs of the robot (Ideon) the Ideo Buster. While she has some initial anxiety over piloting, that quickly gives way to aggressive fighting tactics. Kasha is just as confident as the other pilots and pushes to absolutely crush the Buff Clan whenever possible. When the enemy retreats, she’s the one yelling to finish them off. Kasha brings the get shit done energy. She doesn’t care what everyone else’s qualms are; they are the enemy, they attacked the ship and they need to be stopped. Things are very black and white to Kasha both to her benefit and detriment. That detriment though is fascinating, a true wildcard that has to be reigned in.
She’s also the last hold out on trusting the Buff Clan defectors. Karala (that poor, poor woman) has an absolutely terrible time being trusted by the Logo Dau colonists. She puts up with being imprisoned, belittled and shot to prove her allegiance. Eventually the colonists all come around, but Kasha straight up refuses to trust her. Kasha always lets everyone know that it’s probably a bad idea to trust her because she’s a Buff Clan alien. I don’t think Kasha ever comes around on Gije, who by the time he defects has a much easier time acclimating with our protagonists. You can understand Kasha’s reasoning, even if she’s being overly stubborn by the end.
That stubbornness is what makes Kasha so fascinating though. She’s far from perfect but in a genuinely fun way. She’s like a hardened soldier from the jump, someone who’s seen and knows the enemy and refuses to pardon them for their faction’s violent actions. Kasha’s the perfect devil’s advocate because she refuses to take peoples shit. Her position as both a child and a girl make her aggressiveness even better. She’s the thorn in everyone’s side who operates a giant leg with missiles. She wants decisive action and she wants it ten fucking minutes ago. It’s rare that the unhinged character is a preteen girl which makes it all the richer. I don’t say that as in a “representational” sense, but more in how her gender operates within the usual stereotypes. Everyone dismisses her and makes snide comments about her, but Kasha continues to double down.
It’s tough to say what the show actually thinks of Kasha. She is usually wrong and more gung ho about going after the Buff Clan than the rest of the team. Characters like Cosmo write her off because she’s a girl and it’s unclear whether the show thinks he’s entirely wrong in that regard. Either way, Kasha fucking shines or more clearly attacks the sun. She’s pedal to the medal and ready for action. I loved seeing Kasha overreact and consistently insist on decisive action. It was a little disappointing in Be Invoked to have her cede her seat in the Ideon, but glad that she goes down shooting. Kasha wouldn’t want it any other way.