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Shinesman: Special Duty Combat Unit


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Title Info

  • alias: Tokumu Sentai Shinesman
  • seen: 1-2 of 2
  • type: OAV
  • grade: watchable
  • genre: parody
  • source: commercial
  • form: both
  • dur: 60
  • made: 1995
  • Review created: Thu Dec 20 18:38:55 EST 2001
  • mod: none

No lesser an organisation than the MIT anime club has dubbed me a reviewer with no sense of humor. A theme taken up in quite a number of e-mails. Sadly it looks like I have to confirm these as I clearly failed to get the thrill that is shinesman.


We get to meet a young office worker at Right trading company as he's having breakfast with his kid brother. His brother is regaling him with tales of the `greatmen', TV super-hero's who fight off evil alien space-monsters. While the guy finds his brothers enthusiasm infectious he seems to be paying a lot more attention than you might expect. This is because, in addition to being a dedicated member of the sales department, he's also a member of the companies super secret special duty combat unit known as the shinesman.

Not that he really applied for such a thing, he sort of got roped into some senior executives pet project. While it's a bit of an adventure having a secret identity as a super-hero is more than a little bit embarrassing at the same time. Especially given some of the dodgy color choices (shinesman moss green anyone?) and the rather useless nature of their thematic weapons (business card cutter?). However when it turns out that the electronics company down the road is the (rather under-funded) beachhead for an alien invasion (well, two people and their troublesome kid sister anyway) the fight (or disagreement anyway) is on.


And, as I admitted above, I don't really get what the thrill is. It's sort of fun to watch, has some funny moments and a couple of really great lines but that's about all. Some people mentioned that the dub was much better than the sub, so I was careful to see both. And while this does makes the comedy flow a bit easier, and greatly enhances a couple of signature lines, it still doesn't make this anything I would treasure.

It does contain parody elements of the whole `sentai' or team thing, of which power rangers are the most recent and best known example. Although an example that has faded from memory to a certain extent as that craze was quite a while ago. The corniness, gadgets, staged fights and color coded protagonists are all well represented here. But, um, the original was almost a parody itself. No one really considered power rangers to be a serious show, you were almost meant to view it as a simple stage-play, full of action and motion but little meaning. As a result trying to do a parody of this, well, ends up feeling a lot like the original rather than something hugely different.

Meanwhile the `serious' side of the story is actually quite dry and played very straight. In a lot of ways this parody show is almost more serious than the shows some people think it is making fun of. However the story is not particularly original, or exciting, in itself. Because it's played so straight it's not even particularly humorous even before you consider the parody element. There's a little bit of `heart of the hero' stuff, and even a minor romance angle, which is so leaden that it is left to personal taste as to whether it is meant to be impossibly subtle humor or they actually believe they're telling a touching story. Since, as mentioned, the story is nothing special it's probably better to assume it is parody....although not, to my mind, terrible funny.

On the positive side it does have a handful of scenes which are wonderful. These are often focused in one or two quotes which just make the scene surreal, powerful and meaningful. I won't spoil them, because they're much better taken in context, but there definitely are a couple of moments that got me laughing out loud. And I must agree that these seemed much stronger in the English dub than the sub-title. The main problem with them is that there's simply not a whole heap of these moments. Not enough, for myself, to make up for the rather cheesy story that dominates the running time. Worth watching without a doubt, but not something I'd care to own or even champion. A situation likely to worsen as the memory of the power-rangers slips ever further into history.

The animation is quite reasonable, pleasant to watch, but nothing terribly special. Which actually rather fits my feelings towards the film itself. The characters look quite good, and express themselves well, but there's little in the way of sustained drama or interaction. The action scenes, and there are some, are generally low on detail, flash and complexity and as such are a little bit of let down. The tech design, both for suits and items, is simplistic. The general sense of motion is smooth and the coloring is quite attractive. The voices are good but the English dub does get some of the droll humor across better. The music is quite reasonable.

Other Reviews

  • Akemi's AnimeWorld review Clearly Akemi and I could not disagree more...although I guess neither of us are that impressed by the animation. However the review finds it to be one of the best, most amusing, parodies made better by the strong story at it's core. Long and detailed review explaining why makes this a great read (4/5).
  • Anime Critic review The anime critic is a little bit more moderate. While he thinks it's a strong parody he thinks those who hate, or at least know, the power rangers are going to get a lot more out of it. I agree that the characters have charm but little chance to develop it (3.5/5).
  • Lord Carnage review A relatively short review, but quite positive. While he wasn't expecting much the humor, concept and good lines seem to have firmly hit carnage's funny bone. Although the mark is surprisingly low for a `highly recommended' title (3/5).
  • THEM review Well, no one agrees with me less than the fine folks at THEM. They like this one a lot, calling it the "funniest anime I had never heard of". They like the characters (and English voice acting), love the humor and adore the snappy one liners. They even think the parody and humor extend well outside the narrow domain of making fun of power-rangers (5/5).


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:24 WST 2009