Title: The Big O
Genre: Action, Mecha
Length: 2 Seasons (13 episodes each)
Paradigm City is the last inhabited city left on a now ruined Earth due to some cataclysm that struck 40 years prior to the start of the city. The denizens of Paradigm City, due to this cataclysm, were left without a single memory of the event or anything prior to it, but due to the adaptive qualities of the human species, the city was able to carry on. But within the depths of the city lies the remnants of this cataclysm, waking every so often to walk the Earth, wanting to be remembered. Enter Roger Smith, Negotiator. As a Negotiator, he is hired by citizens of the city to negotiate and resolve whatever request a client might have, with the occasional calling to lay a reawakened, giant mechanized memory to rest with his own iron clad ghost of the past- The Big O.For such a simple storyline, Big O gets rather complex in its second season. While I guess it was nice to have some sort of closure in the end, what really drew me in was the first season. Each episode was a short, self-contained story, which normally would agitate me, but in the case of Big O, it worked really well with the whole noir style, so it really didn't bother me too much. In retrospect, I guess the second season had to switch from self contained stories to an actual story arc because Big O was a show that had to be short. Since the story was done in the pulp fiction style, the story got to have its fun in the first season, but in order to preserve the anime, the second season closed it in an opened ended fashion. If the series had gone on with the self contained gig, it would have fallen by the wayside with all the other mecha anime that ran outta magic and were running on hopes and dreams.
The animation, just like the story, was tailored for American audiences. Sunrise studios, the makers of Big O, had previously subcontracted for some of the Batman animated series which is really cool because just by looking at character designs and scenery, you can see a lot of influence from Batman, shown by Roger and Norman, who really have the Bruce Wayne and Alfred going on, black suits and all. The city itself was really cool looking, being modeled after New York City, which made me feel a bit closer to the anime, seeing as it was based on home soil as opposed to Japan. The fact that it was based close to home is kinda nice to see every once in a while, which is actually a really dangerous move for Japanese animators, because if their stuff doesn't fly well enough in Japan, it runs the risk of never reaching America. Series like Trigun and Big O normally aren't well received in Japan simply because it isn't really in their taste and they couldn't identify well with the characters.
Big O himself was really neat and refreshing to see in action. Now-a-days, every mech is some sort of sleek, streamlined, hyper-light speed ninja robot that has Fort Knox rammed up its ass for armaments and some sort of 10 Billion Kill-a-Watt Rainbow Beam Blaster that runs off of emo-kids with crazy hairdos. Now don't get me wrong, I love me some super robots and God knows I would swear off sex (maybe) to pilot Gundam Deathscythe, but Big O was just a kick ass mech; a manly-man's mech if you will. He was made simple in design with the simple concept that he was meant to be big, so they gave him weapons that fit that idea (piston-punches, laser beam eyes, missiles in his abs, hands that transform into laser gatling guns) and a body to match (over sized appendages, barrel chested, sharp lines that give more edges to him).
In the beginning, everything was simple- super robot comes and saves the day or what have you and stuff, and then second season everything gets deep and weird. Like I said, it had to be done, but it could have been done better. The whole ending season was dealing with self-identity and figuring out what is real in life and what never even existed. The depth would have been a bit more tasteful if the series had been lengthened to 30 episodes. It might have been enough time too give it the depth it needed. OR maybe a MOVIE *coughMAKEONEPLZhack*.... *ahem*
Big O is an amazing example of how cool noir films and pulp fictions are. Everything fit so well, from Roger's monologues in between scenes with that low smoky sax accompaniment to the hazy skies casting showering the city in a shady cloak. I am just really surprised at how the whole series turned out and how well it meshed. Also, while the story was rushed, the uniqueness of the show helps to cope with that, and in all honesty, the ending wasn't as horrible as it could have been.
I also would like to point out that it is useless watching this show in another language besides English. It is like choosing a piece of cake made at Friendly's or a cake made by Emeril. The voices are perfect to the point that it was almost like the characters were drawn specifically to match the vocal cast, which, in a sense, is kind of what happened.
FINAL GRADE: B-
The metal spawn of a giant mech and Humphrey Bogart. It ain't the prettiest thing to walk the Earth, but damn if it ain't cool lookin'.