Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Apr 1, 2010 to Sep 23, 2010
24 min. per episode
PG - Children
L represents licensing company
Score: 6.961 (scored by 5917 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
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SynopsisJoey is an orphan living with his grandmother in Center City on the West Coast of the United States of America. Joey, like any other boy his age, is interested in robots and gadgets and dreams about owning a particular toy robot called a Heybo. Heybos have very advanced mechanisms and controls but with great mechanisms comes great price; the robot is too expensive for Joey, whose only source of income is a part-time job at a restaurant and he needs that money to help support himself and his grandmother.
One day, when Joey is on his way home from school, he happens upon a couple of bullies who are playing around with a Heybo. Long story short, the bullies manage to get the robot run over by a car and Joey retrieves the wreckage from a trash can. Once home, Joey fixes the robot and names it Heroman. Later that night, a thunderstorm results in Heroman getting wet and, improbably, struck by lightning. The result is amazing, Heroman grows massive in size, gets emblazoned with the colors of the American flag and responds to Joey's commands!
At the same time in space, an alien race called the Skrugg is preparing an invasion of Earth. Now it's up to Joey and Heroman to save Earth!
Related AnimeAdaptation: Heroman
Side story: Heroman Specials
Characters & Voice Actors
Over the years there have been several attempts at merging Eastern manga and anime with Western comics and cartoons. Batman had two manga outings (Child of Dreams and Death Mask), while the X-Men saw their manga counterparts run straight into a wall. Spiderman and The Hulk made appearances as early as 1970, and many people already know about the promised anime adaptations of several well known titles (Wolverine, X-Men, Iron Man, etc).
The problem is that all of the attempts thus far have not been as successful as one might hope or expect. One of the reasons for this is because the titles that have been adapted to date are already well known, and each has a wealth of existing storyline that makes reinvention more difficult (which some may find odd, but have a think about and you'll understand why).
It's strangely ironic that it has once more fallen to Stan Lee to light the way forward.
Originally a manga written by Stan Lee himself and drawn by Ota Tamon, Heroman tells the story of Joey Jones (a true Stan Lee name), an orphan living with his grandmother in Centre City. He spends his days attending school and working part time at a cafe (where Stan is also a regular customer), but all the while he wishes more than anything to be a hero.
In all honesty I wasn't sure what to expect from Heroman. The name itself is very typically Stan Lee in its simplicity, but one would expect a tad more complexity from the story itself. The plot is very, very straight forward and in true Stan Lee fashion, the story can at times be very "preachy". That said, the simplicity of the tale is rather appealing as there aren't any of the hang ups typically associated with East-West crossovers.
The main reason for this is because Stan Lee decided against using pre-existing material and started from scratch on a totally new idea. He wanted to create "a hero for the 21st century", and in a certain sense he managed to achieve part of that goal. The only problem is that while Heroman may be a different take on traditional heroes for the Western world, the whole idea itself is a throwback where Eastern media is concerned.
An orphan and a giant robot are nothing new in anime and manga. Giant Robo: The Day The Earth Stood Still showed just how good the format could be given the right setting, story and characters, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Other shows like Tetsujin 28, Gad Guard, Top wo Nerae and even Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann all play around with the concept to a degree. Anime and mange are rife with tales of humans and their super robot counterparts, so it may seem a bit strange that Stan Lee would use the idea to herald a new age of crossovers.
Thankfully Stan is a very clever man (I'll explain this in a bit).
Bones have produced a very good looking show for the most part. The animation is very crisp and fluid, and the numerous actions scenes are choreographed very well. The characters follow Ota's original designs for the most part, and are reflective of the shows Western heritage, although one does have to wonder about the patterning on Heroman as it seems a bit too US-centric.
One thing that bears mentioning is the palette used throughout the series. Bright, bold colours abound which, together with the distinctly Western characters, give Heroman an air more akin to traditional Western comic book adaptations (the original X-Men cartoon for example).
Unfortunately, while the visuals may be very good, the same can't be said of the acting. Komatsu Mikako and Kimura Ryohei play the roles of Joey Jones and Simon Kaina fairly well, but the series has one inherent problem when it comes to acting. The whole show is geared towards a Western mentality, a factor which will inevitably cause problems for any seiyuu unfamiliar with the mindset. Because of this there are occasions where the acting in just doesn't seem to mesh well with the on screen action, and there are several occasions where the actors either ham it up too much or become completely wooden.
That said, the series will probably receive an English dub at some point, but whether that is better or not remains to be seen.
A big plus for Heroman is the quality of the sound effects, almost all of which are crisp, clear, and very well choreographed. The series is littered with great noises, whooshes and explosions, all of which would become a veritable cacophony if they were mixed with music, so it's a good thing the majority of the show is relatively unencumbered in that department. The background music is often subtle and varied, and the tracks are used in a very intelligent manner.
Like many other anime out there, Heroman makes use of two opening and ending themes to highlight the midway point of the series. The first twelve episodes feature "Roullette" by Tetsuya (of L'Arc-en-Ciel fame) as the OP, and "Calling" by Flow as the ED. Both are upbeat, but very typical, J-rock tracks that work quite well with the theme of the series.
The OP and ED for the second half of the series, "Missing" by Kylee and "Boku no Te wa Kimi no Tame ni" (My Hands For You), by Mass Alert, are far less upbeat than the first two tracks. "Missing" is more of an emotional rock track, with all that entails, while "Boku no Te wa Kimi no Tame ni" has a slight feeling of angst. Strangely though, both tracks are equally well suited to the series, especially given that events become more serious later on.
As for the characters themselves, well, anyone who has read a Stan Lee comic will find many things that are familiar, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're good. Joey develops fairly well over the course of the series, but the main problem is that he is the only character who receives any substantial growth. What is surprising is the lack of attention given to Simon, Lina, Professor Denton, and even William. It would have been nice to have more insight into their respective characters over the course of the show, and while there are some efforts made in that direction, these seem more like afterthoughts than anything else.
My main gripe with Heroman is that William Davis, Lina's older brother and the guy who keeps tormenting Joey, doesn't get anywhere near the attention he deserves. Yes, he starts off as a bully, but his transformation is just as profound as Joey's, and it would have been nice to see how his character copes with the change.
Now while it's pretty obvious that the series possesses a number of issues, that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. The truth is that even with all its flaws, Heroman is a rather entertaining series, especially as it's a throwback to the super robot shows of bygone days. Yes it has more cheese than Switzerland (and the plot has about as many holes), but the story is well put together and the whole thing looks good. Granted there are problems with the acting but they're mainly from cultural differences rather than a lack of talent.
Which brings me back to the reason why Stan Lee is a clever man. When one considers Heroman from a manga and anime perspective, it clearly falls short of the mark set by many other super robot tales. Likewise, when consider from the perspective of Western cartoons and comics the series is nowhere near the level of Stan Lee's more popular franchises.
Where people get it wrong is in assuming that Heroman is an attempt to cross the East-West divide. It isn't, and the proof of that is in the fact that we have a traditionally Japanese super robot show created by an American and set in the US. Heroman isn't an attempt to cross the divide, no, it's an attempt to bridge it. By choosing this type of show, Stan Lee is sending a message to both DC and Marvel that if they want to crack the Eastern markets then they need stop trying to re-invent existing heroes, and should instead focus on creating new content using existing manga and anime as inspiration.
Heroman may not be as good as some of the older super robot shows, but what it heralds may be a new dawn for anime and manga, especially if Marvel and DC get the message.
There is a few things that should be pointed out before reading the review:
1. This is a Stan Lee work. If you don't recognize him he will feel left out during his numerous cameo appearances... and cry.
2. Ratings are a matter of personal preference, so i suggest making judgment by reading the points and not staring at my score.
-This is rated PG.
This matters on a number of levels. Don't expect any complicated plot; the first half of the show especially requires minimal internalization of what is going on. This also means when an enemy is destroyed they, hilariously, implode into their exoskeleton, as they are bug men.
-Bones animates awesome fight sequences, but leaves out logic.
I have to admit that the big showdowns between heroman and his evil foes were enjoyable. Heroman moves slowly as he is a giant tank and gives the impression of a wrestler more than anything else. He even parades in front of your screen and has his own victory sign.
Yet, there was always oddities that lacked explanations: How did he repair himself? Why can't missles affect the Skrugg, but his puny fists can? Even in a situation of aliens and toys turning into planetary heros, every story starts of by grounding itself to reality so we can understand it. This is one of the more selective points; you actually have to care about this a lot for this to completely ruin your enjoyment of the show.
-The second half attempts to compensate for a weak start.
The first segment is cliché as Heroman fights against the army of advanced aliens with their giant spheres, and yes i just said giant spheres. After you infer what happens, the plot thickens, and various encounters with human kind occur. Apparently this proves harder to do as he must keep his secret identity. If you make it through the poor first arc, the second arc will be more worthwhile; unfortunately the third major arc reverts backwards.
-Joey is an.. interesting character.
One must accept that Joey is not a women. While not bad animation, it lies more in the choice of his hairstyle. Personally, he must be one of the most unintentional ugly characters i have seen, but despite this adversity he makes his sojourn to manhood and becomes the hero he has always wanted to be. If you don't want to go deaf however, watch out for his blood curdling cry for heroman to attack.
-Other main characters don't get a lot of development.
Denton sensei, and Psy are helpful sidekicks, but don't get any personal attention and are always assisting Joey in his pursuit to save the world. Even Will, Lina's sister, gets no attention at all; If you make it to the end you will realize he is completely forgotten, while the context would be a spoiler i will say that it is odd if you consider how Lina has a brother complex.
-Comparing to average anime, it has a good romance.
In a world where tsunderes reign, couples can never relax and can never avoid drama, heroman is a breath of fresh air. The local cheerleader expresses interest in our hero from the start and provides a non-frustrating relationship. However, this is not the focus so this never turns for the worst.
-Psy gets no character development for a long time.
Now, this normally wouldn't bug people so much, and i had a point for development already. However, the fact that we have no explanation to the event that crippled him paranoid me throughout the series. Awesome character made personally awkward. I also always wanted to know where he got that awesome crippled person motorized skateboard too! read more
Both are charming throwbacks to classic superhero Saturday morning cartoons.
While Tiger&Bunny uses clever satires with the theme of superheroes, Heroman is more basic with the whole premise.
Both series contain supernatural elements and the typical "hero" themes where a main protagonist obtains power to save people and those he cares about.
Both series contains comedy, drama, and action.
Both series are generic but still fun to watch in terms of entertainment.
Opening Theme#1: "Roulette" by Tetsuya (eps 1-12)
#2: "missing" by Kylee (eps 13-26)
Ending Theme#1: "CALLING" by FLOW (eps 1-12)
#2: "Boku no Te wa Kimi no Tame ni" by Mass Alert (eps 13-25)
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