Anime Meta-Review




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Title Info

  • seen: 1-5 of 36
  • type: TV
  • grade: flawed
  • people: Macek
  • form: dub
  • Series state: Don't intend to watch more.
  • source: Streamline (defunct)
  • made: 1990
  • Review created: Fri Feb 2 17:48:54 EST 2001
  • mod: none

Okay, time to date myself. It took about 2 minutes before some elements of this anime looked very, very familiar. The element in question being the zillion gun system. The biggest clue, though not mentioned in the anime, being a box over the `heart' which recorded hits from the IR gun. And indeed, after a bit of web crawling, I confirmed that the zillion name came from these toys, then an 8-bit sega system game, and finally an anime. What relevance does this have? It means that anime conversions from computer games have been around a lot longer than I thought. It also means they've shared the problems of drawing from a shallow foundation and feeling overly commercial for a lot longer than I expected.

The plot, for want of a better word, is very cookie cutter. The first point of interest being that it seems to have one writer per episode, leading to a very episodic nature with quite a different feel between them. The common elements are the characters and the existence of a war...after all, there need to be a lot of targets. In essence the setting is far in the future and is set on a human colony somewhere in space, although it seems they're independant from any other human groups. They've recently come under attack from an alien empire completely focused on galactic conquest and determined to start with this planet. And, unfortunately, the aliens have the numbers, the technology and the equipment to wipe the humans out. They also all wear masks, gloat about their inevitable victory and have bad synthesiser voices just in case you missed the fact that they're the bad guys.

Only one force stands between the aliens and human annihilation. On this planet three powerful weapons, and a supply of ammo, were found and named the zillion system. The humans can't analyse the weapon, can't make more (or even produce ammo), and have only three weapons. These become the weapons of the `white knights', who are largely derived from the game and are extremely archetypal. They're also grand-standing hot-heads who no actual military would use. Anyway, we've got the young, impulsive hothead who was the standard character in the game. He's constantly arguing with the older male of the trio (who was the strong, slow one in the game) who's more level headed. Meanwhile the female (who was weak but fast in the game) is both rational and the balancing factor between the two. Basically the stories revolve around the white knights being the only force capable of thwarting the aliens, while the aliens become aware and interested in the destruction of the knights.

In other words both the characters, the plots and the story are true `minimum effort' things you've seen a hundred times before. They positively reek of `product placement' and mechandising potential. Even the interaction between the characters, or the characters and the story, while not bad in itself, is simply so familiar as to be painful. Admittedly this is probably not enhanced by the dub and the possibility, this being a Carl Macek production, of edits to americanise the product. It's not bad anime, it's just so impressively average that I found it an unusual sort of pain to watch it.

The central concept is of course pretty ridiculous. The concept that three people are the only useful elements in a planetary war is pretty surreal. Even more so because the only special tools they have are special guns, there's nothing to explain their phenomenal ability to not take any serious hits even when attacking immense enemy forces. This naturally leads to the `cannon fodder' enemy approach. Huge numbers of foes who are stupid and incapable of shooting straight when the story requires this of them. This show was obviously designed to appeal to children, although there's quite a lot of violence, some blood and some mature elements in dialogue and story that would have made this probably unsuitable for American TV. All in all a strange and unattractive mix of elements.

And the production is definitely not a positive. It claims a quite recent copywrite, although this could be the american version. However it is clear that the animation wants to be flashy but doesn't have the budget to do so. Thus the familiar short-cuts dominate the running time. There's lots of repeated sequences, such as flying out to the mission, all dominated by the same piece of dire disco music. Likewise there's lots of `sliding cells' to try and hide the fact that they're only static objects. Some of the action, and the characters in general, are actually reasonably well animated, but with little flair or imagination. Colors are flat and lifeless for the most part. Effects animation is un-impressive. Over all this is the dub, which actually isn't too bad apart from the normal faults. These being horrid voices for minor characters, too loud (and awful) effects, the awful and incomprehensible synthesiser for the aliens and that single disco'ish piece of BGM that they terribly abuse.

Note that only 5 episodes of the 36 episode TV series were released for the American market. This was by the now defunct Streamline and I strongly doubt fan-subbers will have any interest in extending that total. Thus that's the limit for most western fans. There's also an OAV (Zillion Special) that i'll review elsewhere.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:27 WST 2009