It’s somewhat rare for a series to be simply described as a solid throwback to the dubious “glory days” of the OVA boom, because that’s a big kind of claim with a lot to unpack inherent to it. Something trying to evoke a high-quality, highly-acclaimed production like Patlabor (1988), Aim for the Top! Gunbuster (1988) or Bubblegum Crisis (1987-91) is going to be doing something very different to something steeped in nostalgia for MD Geist (1986) or Angel Cop (1989-94). Arguably a lot of subsequent anime has respect and nostalgia for the very best of the boom era, and not so much has kept the same reverence for its trashier, more exploitative side.
I was interested enough in Armoured Fleet Dairugger XV to keep watching past a point I’d usually give up a series that was not interesting me. It was a super robot show I was not familiar with outside of knowing that it was perhaps the biggest-crewed robot of that era of super robots (with fifteen pilots), that it was (seemingly uncharitably) parodied by Robot Chicken for the length of its stock footage and that it had never featured in Super Robot Wars. And so, when I found out it was receiving official, subtitled streams on Youtube, I decided to watch it.
Quote, of course, from the inimitable @dril
It is sadly possible that before long I will be intensely frustrated with Fire Force, because the things I liked about its first episode are things that will probably end up less prominent, and there is a whole fascinating world of things I will not like lurking in the wings unless it lives up to some interesting foreshadowing and pulls off some good revelations. But nevertheless the first episode has spectacular energy to it, combining great aesthetics of combat, a visually impressive setting and a concept that is simple, elegant and effective for setting up an ensemble-cast superhero series. It is not far removed from a Super Sentai series (or perhaps even more like Rescue Fire or one of the Metal Hero series like Winspector) – a team of heroes themed around the emergency services fight monsters related to their specialisation. In this case, in the distant future(?), people often explode into flaming skeletons and it falls to the FIRE SOLDIERS to kick the skeletons to death and shoot them with guns.
This article was originally written for Who Dares Rolls (www.whodaresrolls.com) and is reproduced here with permission.
Note: This article also includes some references to personal experiences of death and loss, and discusses those themes.
6 Minutes of Power Remaining is by Kris Ruff
A lot of the games in the Emotional Mecha Jam focus on humanising the mech in these mecha stories – often through making it a role played by a player, whether or not it is actually a sentient AI. This opens the theming of the games up to wider questions touching on those explored by cyberpunk fiction; whether or not a meaningful bond can exist between a human and an inanimate, or non-sapient object. And, indeed, when one considers the relationships forged in war between human and AI, there is the question of whether something made as a weapon can feel friendship or love.
As I continue to watch Gun X Sword I’m struck by several things. Firstly it does not get significantly less uneven in quality. Secondly, the El Dora V episode feels even by the halfway point like a weird anomaly of sincerity – although other episodes, in their own ways, hit equally weird and interesting concepts. Thirdly it is a series that has an unbelievably strong villain even before he actually does anything.
I started rewatching Gun X Sword just after beginning to play Super Robot Wars T and was seriously wondering after two episodes if it was actually as good as I remembered. I would fully understand someone, after two episodes of the series, being just about done with it because the opening absolutely does not touch the show’s real strengths. You have two episodes of character humour that might be grating without the opportunity to get to know the characters, and of incidental combat against largely irritating villains. There are flashes of interest, for sure – the moments where the mask of slacker comedy breaks and Van shows his crazed side suggest there is something more going on here, made all the clearer by the fact the setting is called The Endless Illusion. But ultimately it is a kind of badness driven by simply being ordinary when you have probably, if you have been convinced to watch Gun X Sword, entered expecting something extraordinary.
There are quite a few comedy fantasy anime in the vein of The Slayers and, unfortunately, most of them are varying degrees of quite sexist. Even The Slayers has some episodes that really don’t hold up as very good, although it also has some extremely funny episodes and some action scenes that work quite well. There are certain tropes that come through in a number of the series in this vein that, depending on execution, feel a little awkward; lots of cross-dressing, lots of jokes where the punchline is pretty much “man tries to spy on woman and gets punched” and so on. The execution varies for better or worse, but nevertheless it seems this sort of adolescent humour is a recurring theme and it’s wholly understandable that that might not appeal to people so much. Konosuba goes perhaps even further by having a masochist-fetish defender and various other more direct sex jokes.
Kamen Rider Gaim is a very different beast to the previous series in the franchise I had watched and enjoyed; perhaps the closest comparison is 2018’s Kamen Rider Build in terms of tone, storyline and general feel, with heroes on all factions trying to get ahead of each other and eventually realising this is playing into a greater threat’s hands. But even so it is quite different, and the purpose of this review is not really to compare the series directly but to talk about what makes Gaim so compelling to watch.
It is fair to say I am watching Dororo (2019) with absolutely no knowledge of the original 1969 TV anime or 1967 Osamu Tezuka manga. As a result I cannot comment on how good an adaptation it is, in any useful sense; my understanding from secondary reading is it is making some plot changes, but beyond that I do not know anything. So, that reservation in mind, would I recommend Dororo (2019)? Yes. It’s a series which has in its first three episodes generally presented a praiseworthy attention to detail, some good action and a straightforward plot which hits some generally tough moral beats with the uncompromising didacticism that I grew to like about series like Harlock SSX.
Note: This article discusses the plot details of episodes 1-3 of Dororo (2019) including the way it handles the narrative depiction of suicide in episode 3.
It has been a long time since I watched any Captain Harlock media, but the recent announcement of Super Robot Wars T, featuring Harlock SSX: My Youth in Arcadia, drove me to give the series another go. I love its aesthetic, and it is iconic enough to be notably parodied in various things (perhaps most broadly by the latter half of Goldran featuring Walter disguised as a bad parody of Harlock piloting a giant robot shark), but I did not recall particularly gelling with the original series, dated as it is, when I first watched it.