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[In Which I Review] Anime series from 2000

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
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[#39] GEAR Fighter Dendoh
(38 episodes)

What's it about ?

More mecha from Sunrise ! Here it's the more oldschool kind (that looks a bit like sentai without the costumes), clearly targeted for children. You can tell by the obvious product placement.

Characters

Hokuto, our generic kid protagonist, whose family has just moved into the city. Decent book-smarts.

Ginga, another kid he meets later on, does lots of martial arts training. It's mild irritation at first sight, so of course when the nasty giant robot aliens attack, they have to pair up to pilot the Earth Defense Force's own new mecha. In a synchronised fashion, of course.

Susumu, the official pilot for said mecha, is very confused : who are those kids and how could they even enter the cockpit ? And why is the mecha now denying him entry, despite him having trained for this for years ?

The mysterious masked woman who seems to be the field commander has no such qualms : she artfully maneuvers the kids into defeating the Alien Mecha of the Week. (Too bad the aliens aren't moron and immediately send tons of footsoldiers at once.) ... And come on, even without recognizing Kotono Mitsuishi's voice, she's obviously Hokuto's mom with a blonde wig and a fancy visor.

Production Values

Nice enough for this kind of thing ; although there's a clear emphasis of how cool those programmable remotes for mecha are (despite the kids using them, you know, INSIDE the mecha...).

Overall Impression

Well, that was quite fun. I don't really care enough for the characters and the toyetic aspects enough to really watch the show, but Sunrise know their stuff and how to spin a decently entertaining series out of a generic premise through sheer enthusiasm alone.
 

Jhiday

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Wow, this project has fallen completely by the wayside, hasn't it ? Let's try and get it back on track...



[#40] Argento Soma
(25 episodes + 1 OVA)

What's it about ?

Hello again, Sunrise ! This time around we're going for the "paranoid sci-fi thriller" brand of mecha.

Characters

Takuto, our protagonist, was an ordinary electronics college student until he tried investigating the disappearance of his girlfriend. Not that their relationship looks particularly great anyway from an outside point of view ; he feels a bit possessive and dismissive of her own aspirations. (Being voiced by Souichiro "K1" Hoshi doesn't help.)

Maki, said girlfriend, already had made an habit of burying herself into work as the assistant to one of the professors. (Healthy relationship, I said !) As it turns out, she just accompanied him when he went to ground after his research became too hot. They did leave a trail on purpose for Takuto to follow, as they want him on board to complete their micro-team (as they're bio-engineers).

Dr Noguchi is the kind of scientist who names his resurrected alien mecha "Frank" and shouts "It Lives !" during the reactivation process. (Points to Chafurin for hamming it up to hilarious levels.)

It won't surprise anybody that the reactivation is a disaster, and Takuto is the lone survivor of this mess.

There's a coda with a blonde girl finding Frank in the mountains, because obviously we're not done with it.

Production Values

Perfectly okay ; again, you can't go wrong with Sunrise doing mecha action.

Overall Impression

Well, this was certainly intriguing. It's all well-trodden territory, but apparently we're still early into the setup phase, as the synopsis I can find for the show hint towards something a bit more complex than what we're seeing yet. Hopefully they'll find a way to make Takuto compelling enough to carry the show now that the rest of the cast is dead.

What worries me a bit more is that this is a conspiracy show, and those tend to do badly with regards to delivering a satisfying ending. 25 episodes should give it enough rope, but I'm still a bit on the fence.
 

Jhiday

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[#41] Sci-Fi Harry
(20 episodes)

What's it about ?

More paranoid sci-fi ! Adapted from a short 1995 manga series.

Characters

Harry, our title character, is a complete loser. The somewhat nerdy guy at the bottom of the feeding chain in American highschool. And it's not like he has a winning personality to compensate ; he's the shy dude in the corner who's a smoldering little ball of resentment and anger.

Catherine, one of the popular girls, has caught his eye... not that he'd ever act on it. She's way out of his league, with one of the jocks being her kinda boyfriend. What's more intriguing is that she actually seems to have some interest in the geek (to the bemusement of her "friends").

John, said boyfriend, seems to be a decent guy. He stops some of his teammates from beating Harry up after he messed up during basketball practice, and he's genuinely worried for Catherine after a bunch of hoodlums steal his car (with her still waiting for him inside).

What saves her from being raped and murdered, though, is Harry stumbling on them... and having some emerging telekinetic powers he can't really control. Harry is terrified by the state he leaves the assholes in ; Catherine is fascinated.

There's no way this can end well.

Oh, and there's a couple of cops investigating a number of bizarre murders in the neighbourhood that look suspiciously like Harry's latest outburst. Wait, had Harry's power incontinence already killed a few random people, or are there other people like him roaming around ? Neither option sounds good...

Production Values

Grey ! Brown ! Because we can't do paranoid sci-fi without drowning in murk, right ?

Points for the character designer going out of their way to make everyone look American, though.

Overall Impression

How do you manage to make a 20-episode anime series out of a 1-volume manga ? By stretching it out a lot, apparently ; this is far for swiftly paced, and it looks like it's only going to get worse from now on. Still, at least this allows the show to lay out the atmosphere very thick, and on that level it succeeds. This is creepy and unpleasant, as it should be.

I'm tentatively curious enough to continue watching at some point.
 

Thrund

Registered User
Validated User
[#41] Sci-Fi Harry

I'm tentatively curious enough to continue watching at some point.
You should, it's still one of my favourite series. I think I watched it in blocks of 3 or 4 episodes, because yes it is slow-paced, but it manages to maintain the atmosphere and the pace makes the episodes with some action really stand out. I'd be interested to know how much of the backstory comes from the original and how much was made up for the anime.
 

Jhiday

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[#42] Legendary Gambler Tetsuya (Shoubushi Densetsu Tetsuya)
(20 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a shonen manga series about gambling in post-war Japan.

Characters

Tetsuya, our protagonist, is one of the many former Japanese soldiers demobilized after the end of WWII. There are tons of them, and not much work to go around (to say nothing of the desolate state Japan has been left in) ; so he decides his best bet is to enter a random mahjong gambling den and try to make what little money he has left fructify.

He did have a very good teacher back in the army ; an old soldier who was most probably a yakuza, and had nerves of steel, if the flashbacks are anything to go by.

Most of his first opponents are easy rubes ; he reads them easily and can clean them out without cheating, using basic psychological warfare. Er, maybe you're going too far by becoming physical with one of those guys when it turns out he can't pay right now ? It's not like anyone here is swimming in cash...

Boshu, an old man who's a regular and has noticed the scuffle, decides to intervene and join the table. And he's a completely different matter ; shrewd enough to destroy Tatsuya (who won't notice until much too late that the guy can also cheat like a pro).

Production Values

Perfectly okay, if a bit of a retro feel. Considering that this is a period piece that manages to sell the run-down state of post-war Japan, there's not that much flash to the mahjong matches ; just enough to carry the big narrative beats over without feeling out of place.

Overall Impression

Ah, mahjong. A game I've never managed to learn the rules of, and the show is making little effort to explain. That makes it hard for me to follow the games, outside of the general thrust of it ; and thus I just can't quite care enough. Tetsuya being a bit of a dick doesn't help ; he really deserved that comeuppance.

Also, I'm a bit suspicious of a competition series adaptating a manga midway through its long run ; I fear we don't get a real ending. (The fact that it aired in daytime makes me suspect it got cancelled for low rating.)

So, despite a strong period flair, I'm not going to bother with this one.
 

Jhiday

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Gah, I'm slipping off schedule again. Let's try and get this done already.


#43 on the list is Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children, an adaptation of that RPG franchise's attempt at emulating the success of Pokémon, with simpler gameplay more accessible to kids. It got a sequel in 2002, adapting a further game (and apparently having a troubled production). Anyway, I couldn't find it.

#44 would be Baby Felix, a spin-off from the old Felix the Cat cartoons (which were apparently popular enough in Japan). Again, I couldn't find it.

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[#45] Invincible King Tri-Zenon (Muteki Ou Tri-Zenon)
(22 episodes)

What's it about ?

Yet more mecha ! But not by Sunrise, and boy does it show.

Characters

Akira, our kid protagonist, has had it enough with his father being hounded by his creditors, so he takes all the family's few possessions (including his little sister Ai) and goes in search of the legendary treasure their ancestors supposedly left them a map for.

Dad and Akira's not-girlfriend Kana eventually converge to the spot in their pursuit.

Also converging to the same spot : an old couple who turn out to be from another branch of the family, and also want to lay claim to the treasure. They apparently have a deed for half-ownership of the spot. (Which is basically a wasteland in the country.)

Also coming there : a serious-looking dude with green hair who actually seems to have a clue of what's hidden down there, and has enough money on hand to try and buy the spot.

Of course it's Akira, Ai and Kana who fall head-first into the titular "Tri-Zenon" mecha as they dig it out. (Apparently it fell from the sky centuries ago.) Maybe they're going to help against the alien-looking mecha that are wreaking havoc nearby, as the army seem to have trouble even containing them. (As they always do in this kind of series, of course.)

Production Values

Not very good. The character designs for the main characters are particularly garish.

Overall Impression

That's an impressive collection of annoying characters you've got there, show. It doesn't help that the plot is kept wafer-thin as an effort to build to a joke that's really not funny enough to deserve so much screentime.

What makes the show actively painful to watch are the terrible subtitles in the only copy I could find, apparently translated from the Chinese (they don't even get Akira's name right !). Not that there was anything of interest there, really.
 

Jhiday

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[#46] Android Kikaider - The Animation (Jinzou Ningen Kikaider - The Animation)
(13 episodes + a few OVAs)

What's it about ?

Remake of a manga/tokutatsu show by the creator of Kamen Rider. 70s nostagia ahoy !

Characters

Dr Komyoji is the kind of robotics engineer who has a laboratory in the middle of woodlands and lives estranged from the scientific community. Admittedly, the main representative of those is an obviously evil rival who try badgering him into selling his research. Cue totally not suspicious fire in said laboratory leading to the death of the old professor.

Mitsuko, his adult daughter, is trying to uncover why her father died. (Also, taking care of her little brother.) The hidden blueprints she's discovered (and is savvy enough to interpret) hint that he was working on an android far more advanced than anything else currently available... Did he actually build the thing ?

Jiro, a guy who wakes up as a amnesiac nearby with a guitar on his back... oh, come on, this is totally the title android. Which is confirmed soon after when he transforms to face the baddies hunting him down.

Production Values

Wow, retro character designs ! Most of those people wouldn't feel out of place in the Star System. Fortunately, we've got modern animation quality ; this looks quite good and has some decent atmosphere.

Overall Impression

Nice ! We're dealing with well-worn archetypes here, with actual explicit references to Pinocchio just to drive the point home... but it's actually quite fun ; both Jiro and Mitsuko turn out to be pleasant characters to follow. It's clearly a nostalgia piece, but with enough heart to be watchable by people without much knowledge of the original.

I'm strongly considering coming back to it at a later point.
 

Count_Zero

Game Master
Validated User
So, I have a special place in my heart for Fighting Spirit. I'm generally not a fan of sports anime, nor of real life boxing. However, Fighting Spirit did two things right that made it work for me - it didn't do any of the over-the-top ludicrousness that you get in sports anime like Prince of Tennis (with absurd, impossible in real life special moves). Instead here, all the "special techniques" are basically things real boxers do, the writers just stuck a name on it (the "Dempsey Roll" for example) to make the otherwise mundane more flashy.

Second, they slow down the fights just enough that the audience can really track what's happening, as opposed to having the matches take place full speed, which would seem anti-climactic. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if matches in actual boxing seem to feel that slow to the participants.

Finally, I recently got my aunt (who is in her mid-50s) into watching anime. One of the shows we watched together was Fighting Spirit, and she loved it.
 

Kinni

Writer of Ten Thousand Ideas
Validated User
I was going to ask if Avenger was in your list, but then I noticed this is anime series from 2000, not from the 2000s(Avenger is 2003). So I'll just ask if you have seen Avenger before.
 

Bag of Magic Food

Still captured by Lothor
Validated User
[#46] Android Kikaider - The Animation (Jinzou Ningen Kikaider - The Animation)
Ooh, I caught almost all of this on Adult Swim! You're right about the well-worn archetypes; the plot could have been from a MegaMan series, and I could have sworn that Professor Gil was the evil sorcerer in a Disney movie. My brother hated the old-fashioned caricatures too much to keep watching, though. I have to say that Steve Blum as
Spoiler: Show
Hakaider
is almost as brilliant as Scott McNeil as ProtoMan.
 
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