This is a show for very young kids about a weird boy, his family and friends.
The episodes are five-minutes long, and must have been broadcast several times a week, given that 104 of them were pumped out in under 10 months.
Hero Hero, our hero, is an elementary school kid who's a bit absent-minded, and has talking nosehairs. Often he jumps and flies around for a bit.
His dad is pretty much of the same mold. Mom is obsessed with her appearance, and puts on tons of makeup for her job at the supermarket. They also have a "dog" (or whatever Pup Pup is).
Bari Bari is a "delinquent" friend of Hero Hero's who's even tamer than you can imagine. But he looks so cutely rebellious on his tiny bike !
Kira Kira is another friend of his ; she's mostly there to be baffled by his antics.
This is very rough and crudely animated, but it does have some charm in its energy.
I'm way too old for this ; it's clearly targeted at a much younger audience, who'll appreciate the manic dialogue and the slow outlining of the concepts much more than me.
It's mildly interesting as a footnote to see what kind of shows were produced in 2000 for 5-year-olds, but 5 minutes of it were well enough for me. (And anyway, it's not like anyone bothered to fansub more than one episode.)
Yuu, our protagonist, is a highschool dropout who's involved in... gangs ? low-grade terrorist groups ? Between the obtuse exposition and the crap subtitles on my version, it's hard to tell. (It's mostly offscreen.) Anyway, he's aimless and wondering what those strange flashbacks about piloting mecha mean.
Ryo, his "best friend", has noticed this and invited him into INO, the big military organization around (and the only one to have those top-grade mecha). He's a squad leader there, but a complete maverick who regularly gets disciplined. To say nothing of hanging around with terrorists on his paid leave, or putting his civilian pal into his mecha's cockpit for a training exercise. I mean, sure, Yuu does have the skills (somehow), but...
Nanna, a random bridge bunny in INO who happens to be a childhood friend of Yuu's, and on whom he stumbles as Ryo gives him the tour.
A white-haired dude who ticks all the "rival" checkboxes, including the opening flashforward where he's in an intense mecha battle against Yuu.
Decent enough, but the art director really likes his darkness and chiaroscuro. Good for mood, bad for storytelling clarity.
There are occasional bursts of fanservice, including booth babes for a mecha expo (briefly mentioned on the news) and the all-naked ED sequence.
I have no clue what is going on here.
I'm serious. This is an atrocious failure at world-building. INO seems to exist into a bubble detached from the world surrounding it... which itself isn't even sketched out. What are the other powers at play ? Who is INO fighting against, to have so much weaponry on hand ? How's "normal" society outside it going ? What's that group Yuu & Ryo were involved in ? Does anyone have any family ? Fuck if I know. And that's before going into the show's official mysteries, such as Yuu's mecha proficiency and white-hair's agenda.
Show, you have to give me something to get invested in you. Your characters are too busy talking in riddles to get a good handle on, and the stakes remain thoroughly obscure. Even if there's a big surprise shake-up down the line, you needed to establish some ground rules much faster than this to carry the show in the meantime. It really feels like you learned all the wrong lessons out of Eva.
This is way too frustrating for me to keep watching, even without accounting for my desire to punch the fansubbers for getting every third sentence wrong.
I know Gatekeepers almost exclusively as that Geneon show I had to watch previews for on every DVD ever. They must have been bad previews because I never did get around to watching it, even in my vacuuming mediocre anime off of netflix phase.
It was rather badly advertised and its not that good. Fun, absurdist romp on a shoestring budget that appears to have picked up most of its enemy ideas by mashing together cold war-era soviet cliches with a bunch of fever dreams but its never going down as a classic example of how to do low budget productions.
The short sequel OVA is much tighter and better animated but a complete whiplash in terms of tone.
We'll get to more "famous" series in a bit. But before that : more skipping stuff !
#14 on the list is Hidamari no Ki, an adaptation of a late Osamu Tezuka manga about the friendship between a samurai and a doctor in the Edo period. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a copy of even the first episode of it. A shame, as it sounds quite interesting.
#15 is Doki Doki Densetsu Mahoujin Guru Guru, a sequel to a 1994 kids' show adapting a manga lampooning Dragon Quest-style RPGs. It actually sounds quite fun, but it's outside the scope of this project.
(50 episodes, + 51 more for the 2003 sequel, + various OVAs...)
Before we start...
This one has been sitting on my shelves for years. I got a Collector's Edition of it as a gift package from co-workers when I left my job in 2009 (!), and never got around to watching it since then. (I had trouble transferring it to my phone for easy viewing on my commute.) Now, they knew I was an anime fan and there was little chance I'd already seen it, but they clearly valued quantity over quality in their selection. (The package also included Kiddy Grade, Basilisk, a half-naked figure where you can remove the top if you also tear the head off, the whole Mai-HiME manga, a lone DVD collecting a few episodes of No Money, and the Cutie Honey live-action movie. The last of which I actually enjoyed watching, so it wasn't all crap.)
All this to say I'm not expecting a masterpiece here, but it can't be worse than some of the other stuff I got.
What's it about ?
Adaptation of a shonen fantasy manga, vaguely based on Journey to the West.
Sanzo, a monk (with a gun) who receives instructions from the gods to head to a land far to the west where baddies are trying to resurrect an old demon, which has a side-effects of making all the beast people turn evil and attack humans. So get there quick, deal with it, and put an end to this crap.
Also, take those three party members with you :
- Goku, the monkey boy with the extensible staff, who's an annoying brat ;
- Gojo, the half-demon rogue with the bizarre vaguely scythe-like weapon ;
- Hakkai, the "nice", always smiling mage with the pet dragon (who can turn into a car)
Oh, sure, they're all beast people, but they've got power limiters on, so there's no way they'll turn on you. And you've all worked together in the past, so this quest is bound to go swimmingly, hey ?
Urgh. Studio Pierrot got a bad reputation in the 00s for churning out low-quality shonen adaptations, and this is certainly one of them. Cheap animation, so many shots where only the mouths move (badly), to say nothing of the numerous still shots... Also, the disintegration effect for when beast people get killed looks terrible, which is a problem as it gets used all the time.
You know, show, if you're going to have Sanzo slowly realize over the course of the episode that the revival of the Demon King is what makes the beast people go insane, why do you have the narrator state it in the first thirty seconds like it's common knowledge ? Between this and the bizarrely chosen flashbacks (that don't really establish how those people worked together previously), you get a very incompetently-scripted "gathering of the team" episode.
Which is a bit of shame, as there's quite a bit to like in there. Aside from Goku, the characters have charisma (helped by top-notch voice-acting) and get nice little introduction scenes. I could see some fun chemistry developing here, as they spend the whole series having adventures on the way to their goal. Sure, it'll look like crap, but otherwise it should be inoffensive enough. (As I outlined above, I WILL watch this... eventually.)