K.O. Century Beast Warriors
There are some shows that get away with being little more than vehicles for fast paced comedy, loud characters and impressive effects. And then there's this anime which does exactly that multiplied by about 100.
The plot centers around a planet on which live various beast people. They're mostly human in appearance, but they can also turn into `furries', which is basically cute humanoid beast forms. They live a simple life in little villages, seperated by species but seemingly at peace. For religion they worship various idols, often reprsenting sacred animals or spirits. They seem to have a pretty good life all around.
At least until a vicious alien race, known as mankind (yep, we're the bad guys) launches a war for domination of this new world. And since humanity has destroyed its own world the stakes are high, helped by the fact that they consider the beasts eminently expendable. More specifically they capture three young tribal leaders, and the idols of those villages. It seems they believe that these idols are the key to unlocking a great power that will decide the fate of the world. The three eventually manage to escape, Aided by a human, and are given the key to gaia. Can they find and awaken the power before their world is destroyed?
Okay, now let me tell you why the synopsis above doesn't actually work very well. The first thing is when you think of `beast people' some people are going to think of bestial were-wolves or ferocious tigers. Well, think again, the animal forms are cute and humorous. Effectively they're more like people in animal suits, with magical transforms between them, than anything serious, threatening or believable.
Likewise, while the background is of a serious and deadly war, none of the characters we meet take it too seriously. The two human warriors simply like fighting, while the three beast characters are as much driven by their own desires as the `war'. The whole backstory is largely so that there can be some impressive mecha scenes as well as several fights between the two humans and three beast characters (and two extras).
And while this flashy action component takes up a lot of time it actually doesn't dominate. What does is out and out humour between the three main characters. There's a young tiger who's physical and driven by food, there's a vain bird-man and a female `mermaid' who's (sometimes) the sensible one. They're silly and they're loud, with the speed wound up quite high. Watching them interact with each other, and the story elements, provides a great deal of the energy and entertainment in this story.
The negative side of this should be fairly clear. Effectively the comedy and energy dominate to such an extent that the story doesn't seem too important or serious. As a result the over-all feel is relatively shallow. In addition the comedy is fairly simple, with lots of visual and physical humor. And this can almost become irritating in large doses. It's all pretty agressive and unsubtle. In my case I quite enjoyed watching it, but it really failed to leave an impression.
Another negative is the fact that the story doesn't end in these OAV episodes. Clearly this was intended as some sort of pilot, so the actual conclusion ends up being only a tiny step along the larger plot. While I believe more was made that doesn't change the fact that these OAV's hardly introduce the story let alone complete it.
The animation itself is fine. Bright and cartoony with some very playful design. The mecha are surprisingly `serious', don't make too much technical `sense' but have some nice action bits. In general action is fast and frenetic, with the animation being able to suggest speed and motion well, albeit at some price in smoothness and detail. There's also lots of `large' special effects and `energy' beams to keep the action fans entertained. The voices were a bit hyper-active for my liking, and music is fast and poppy, especially the very silly opening song.