Stellar Buster Mito
Oh boy, what a strange and energetic anime this is. It's not something I'm going to rave about as a classic, indeed it's got some real weak points, but what it does have is energy, a strange originality and some interesting character interaction to make it a bit deeper than it appears at first.
The show begins with a young (15 year old boy) waiting at the train station for his mother, who is a model in New York. His father died when he was young and it is obvious that he has a deep affection for his mother. And, likewise, his mother has deep ties to him. The problem is that his mother has a secret she feels he's old enough to hear. Sounds like the basis for a nice sensitive, shoujo inspired story, ne?
Now here comes the other side of the coin. Meet stellar buster mito. While the mature form of her alien race looks like a super-cute little girl she's actually one of the toughest pirates in the galaxy and she'll let no force stand in the way of her desires. She has her own warship and a tough crew who alternately respect and fear her. Once in her combat suit, which happens to look like a tough mature earth-woman, she's got impressive combat skills backed up by an iron will and a quick and incisive perception. There seems little doubt that she's earned her place entirely through her own skills.
And what about if the `secret' turns out to be that these two paragraphs are strongly connected? I don't want to spoil the details of how it plays out, because it's good fun, but lets say that it takes at least three episodes for our young lead to get over the shock. Add in the fact that there's a missing `key' to the most powerful weapon in the galaxy that only mito knows the location of, plus a couple of galaxy police detectives (and some of the most ridiculous mecha ever seen) on their trail and you've got the basis for a rather novel anime.
Not a particularly subtle anime however. The dial on this one is quite clearly set on the "loud, brash and fast" end of the dial. And both the design, story and animation are all designed to back this up. The pace at which the revelations are slammed onto the screen is almost too fast and brutal...but it actually seems that the story manages to fight back, with some of the character humor actually over-powering the somewhat lacking `comedy' that they seem to have tried for. The again, my personal tastes are generally for character stuff.
In any case it sets up a pretty cool situation. Pirates, more by virtue of following their own code than by being evil, are always cool hero's for a story. And they and Mito break into the story like an ill guided rocket. Likewise the galaxy police are no more subtle. Both of them tend to bring high tech weapons and vehicles into the story, and onto earth, with a true devil may care attitude. In the case of the galaxy police this is through a power to turn any object into an themed attack mecha. And until you've seen a mecha fly by shaking it's `coke-can' rockets until they burst you haven't seen how silly a mecha can get. There's a certain wild energy to this excessive action, which is nicely set against the `normal' world.
However, at least for me, the underpinnings are the human elements. The male lead, who gets picked on at school for being a "mama's boy" now has to cope with the fact that his mother is not exactly what he'd been brought up to expect. And she's sufficiently in his face that he's just going to have to deal with it. At the same time Mito has the problem that on this world she looks like a cute young girl. Watching the toughest pirate in the galaxy get dragooned into one of the junior grades is good fun. And in general there's the conflict between her appearance and the two roles (mother/captain) that gives a surprisingly strong backbone to the story. And then there's the mystery of what the galaxy police are, this key, and her child's potential alien powers for later in the series.
I don't actually think this show has the skill to make the best use of the situations it has set up however. It's fast and unsubtle and a lot of the humor fails pretty badly. Likewise the action scenes are very comic and frenetic, which robs them of a lot of power. Never mind the fact that the pirates themselves look like a child's idea of what space aliens might look like. However I will say that it looks like more fun than it at first appeared.
And one of the reasons `first appearances' might be negative is because the animation is, um, pretty crappy. The depiction of scenes is quite simple, flat and unimpressively animated. The characters are fairly close to SD (super deformed) mode in the way they are represented and the action animation fails to impress. There's some computer animation for space combat which is acceptable but neither exciting nor impressive. The sense of design is weird, but not really as amusing as it seems to want to be. It's certainly watch-able, and mito fits the style well, but it's has a rough feel to it. The voices are acceptable, but played fairly straight. The music is energetic but fairly unremarkable, although the opening has a real `sing-along' feel to it and is suprisingly addictive.
Very new, or just not very popular? Who knows, but either way there are no reviews for this title from my regular sources.