Trouble in Nippon? And Iron Man retiring? Zettai, incompatible.
Let me clarify here that I have not read any Iron Man comics and whatever I know about it is from seeing the first two movies and some wiki. Btw, I love Robert Downey Jr. as an actor and he did a brilliant Tony Stark, the borderline narcissist. It actually helped establishing some of his characteristic facts in general because I re-watched the sequel today. For those who don’t know, Tony Stark was a boy genius from get-go, getting an MIT degree at the tender age of 19. Walking on the footprints made by his father Howard Stark, he’s a filthy rich entrepreneur with everything going for him. However, his run-in with Wong-Chu and his heart break (due to shrapnel lodged near his heart), he runs on batteries every day at a time. Being the savior of the people, he finally starts to change his ways and becomes more of a hero than businessman. However, there will always be some residual past-life left and that is where his grey factor comes in; though, in the end, he usually takes responsibility and does the right thing (don’t all heroes?).
I think this is enough for a crash course on the main lead, who is a very old Marvel hero, the comics of which are being published since 1963. You would ask why make an anime version of something so American pop culture and not those Superman/ Batman type animation? Answer lies somewhere between the closing down of many animation studios and long-term partnership of Marvel with Madhouse (Japan HR is cost-effective, you see?), who are not only animating Iron Man but Wolverine, Blade and another character/story around X-men. Knowing Madhouse, I expected quality and I liked the trailer too; so, I was pretty fluent in necessary canon when I sat down to watch this and the first episode did make an impression.
If you went Chief! Hughes! Higuchi! or even Hisahide! 10 pro points for you. Tony Stark is voiced by none other than Fujiwara Keiji, known for his serious and powerful voice that perfectly suits the infamous Stark (inspired by Robert Downey Jr’s profile) , dominating every inch of the screen with his presence. Being an adaptation of a comic, the animation is more human-looking rather than large eyes and pointed chins, with dark shadows and sharp features. Very Madhouse too with CGI effects thrown in and working every aspect on screen and angle (I could even hear background hum of machines while Tanaka gave some status report to Stark). No OP and ED till now so either they will keep using the same theme music or add songs in the next episode.
Coming to the storyline, no time was wasted in re-telling Stark’s story, so we pretty much dive to his visit to Japan for a big start to one of his Arc station project, which is to provide world peace with free energy. The Minister of Defense welcomes him with open arms while his Research Director of Lab number 23 Tanaka Chika, gets things in motion production wise. Some time is given for the news of his retirement to settle in because of the development of “Dio”, an enhanced version of Iron Man with the new element he discovered in order to cure himself from blood toxication. The prototype looks pretty neat in blue (not as pwetty as red though) and all testing done on it is successful.
In order to showcase it to the Japanese crowd, Stark puts up a full air show of jets along with the Dio flying around. Knowing Tony Stark, how would be miss such an opportunity to show off? And that is what he does by flying the Dio himself but crash lands due to some glitch; only to be saved by the slap-happy Nanami (Reporter at Tokyo Journal). Nanami, I just compared you to Lois Lane; that is not good for your future. Also, Editor jeejee, you remind me of Jameson—bring something original to the table man! I guess, the Editors and Reporters in all Stan Lee comics would have some similarity or the other in characteristics.
In case of Tanaka, she can’t understand Stark’s overzealous self-adoration and thus, asking him to be humble turns out to be few of the sarcastic comments thrown in. During the testing of faulty Dio, it bugs out and completely goes berserk. In the end, it all boils down to Stark wearing his red Iron Man again and shut down the malfunctioning Dio, which was sabotaged. To add some more spice, a Scorpio looking mecha, a supposed mighty zodiac warrior attacks. Stark fights and finishes off, only to find the faulty Dio gone after the scuffle.
End Thoughts: Did you see what I did there? Yeah, a new Berserk anime is in making but that’s for later. Coming to the first fall series of 2010, the first episode of Iron Man was decent because of its seiyuu and Madhouse. The fans would love this because this is kind of a continuation (not very Avenger friendly but you catch my drift), after the second movie when Stark is stable but still looking at new frontiers to conquer. The CGI blended well with the rest of animation and the action sequences were handled nicely too.
The important characters are few till now so you remember almost everyone’s name except for the Defense Minister’s; I don’t dig politicians at all. Tanaka (Takako Honda of Touko Aozaki of Kara no Kyoukai’s fame) seems pretty srs bsns to me, concentrating on her work and ignoring Stark’s advances. Though her straight-forwardness does not necessarily make her honest but she seems to be an interesting character to lookout for. In case of Nanami (Shizuka Itou of Amagami’s Haruka and Ookami-san’s Taiga Ryouko fame), she seems a bit of an airhead but might get likeable on the basis of her character development, while her partner is pretty much forgettable. Pepper is voiced by Hiroe Oka, a starting seiyuu whose role is too insignificant to even comment.
The story seems to be going at a tangent that a faction in Japan does not like Stark’s arrival in their homeland and that is the reason Dio was sabotaged and person using it brainwashed. This will make Stark postpone his plans of retirement because he would have to get to the bottom of whomever or whatever the opposition is. Expect lots of face-offs between the rogue Dios and zodiac warriors in upcoming episodes. So, if you are a fan or like this kind of action super-hero anime; this is for YOU. I do like action and I’ve had my fare share of superheroes while I was growing up but I don’t think I would follow this diligently every week unless something very surprising happens in the next two episode after which I might marathon this when it finishes. So, this would not be part of my regular episodics.
Preview – Find the missing nuke: Simply proves my point of Stark’s search of whoever is behind the zodiac warriors and search for the missing Dio. Wild thought, if a Scorpio showed up, would an Archer show up next (as in Sagittarius)? Anything is possible right? So, I leave you with a Ja ne~