In the 22nd century, Medarots—intelligent robots powered by medals that act as their minds—are commonplace all over the world. They serve their human partners and settle disputes through a combat sporting event known as Robattling. Combatants that take part in robattling for the sake of improving their ranking are known as Meda-fighters, and they aim to climb the ranks to enter the World Tournament and represent their country.
Medarot tells the story of ten-year-old Ikki Tenryou stumbling across a rare Beetle medal and gaining his first Medarot, dubbed Metabee. He’s expecting a submissive and loyal robot that would follow his every command, but Metabee does what he wants and doesn’t take kindly to being insulted. Now Ikki is stuck with him, and they must work together to give their competition a Metabee-boppin’ as they robattle their way to the top!
Okay guys, let's talk about Medabots, the American consumerist Super robot competition series. I'll start by saying this: Fuck Yeah Medabots.
This is a show that stands the test of time against all odds. Other toy marketing series like Beyblade, B-Damon and Bakugan were ephemeral things, they existed just to push their products and then were forgotten immediately as soon as a new thing popped up. That's because the shows sucked. They had no heart, no personality. Other franchise series like the old seasons of YuGiOh, Pokemon and Duel Masters, however, are remembered fondly by the people who watched them so many years ago. That's because
those shows rocked. They had interesting characters, stories and wacky hijinks. Medabots is part of that club too.
The premise is that everyone who matters in the world has their own companion fighting robot that helps them do chores and commit acts of arson and assault. It's fucking cool. I mean, Pokemon lets kids have giant dragons and stuff, but this shows premise is literally "everyone gets a midget-sized Mazinger". People have a tendency to have their robots duke it out (in public) to settle disputes and get swag. Why can't the real world be this way?
And so the story revolves around this kid named Ikki. He's a lovable little runt with an attitude. He's also a loser because he's the only one at his school who doesn't own a pet robot armed with missiles, guns and other deadly weapons. Well one day he breaks open his piggy bank and buys one at his local 7-11 (convenience stores are badass in the 22nd century apparently), and thus Metabee is born. Ikki then goes on misadventures with his new pal for 50 or so episodes, fighting evil, battling dudes from all over the world, etc.
Sweet premise aside, the characters are what shine in this show. Medabots has a very big cast full of colorful and entertaining characters. Ikki is cool lead. He's a do-gooder, but he's also a 10-year old. He's a sarcastic hotshot who likes his women and really just wants to kick ass at what he does. His partner is Metabee. Metabee is an asshole. He's a freeloader, a know-it-all, talks like a black dude and is generally awesome in every way. He's like Pikachu from the first episode of Pokemon, if he sounded like a jive surfer Darth Vader. And he stays that way. He grows and works well with Ikki over time, but he never loses the flair that makes him fun to watch. When he fights, he has catchphrases like "Dude, I rock." It's impossible to not love Metabee.
All of Ikki's friends are pretty entertaining. Between the hotblooded reporter girl who follows him around, the incompetent bullies, the rich kid rival and his dense, but ever-loving rich girl crush, there's no lack of personality in the main cast. There's also this epic thief bro named the Phantom Renegade, whose secret identity is one of the most intriguing and intricate mysteries I've ever seen in anime.
The bad guys are the RubberRobo Gang. They're the best villains I've seen in this kind of show. They're like a mix between Team Rocket and the Monarch's henchmen from Venture Bros. All of their interactions and silly secret identities are witty in their absurdity, and they grow gradually as characters throughout the series.
Rounding out the pack is Rokusho. Rokusho is his own Medabot, a manly wayward samurai-type character whose name is treated as majestically as it should be by the rest of the cast. He mentors Metabee in the art of firing huge fucking lasers out of his fists.
Oh yeah, did I forget Mr. Referee? Mr. Referee is a deity who has the power to teleport wherever he's needed on the planet, showing up where you least expect him to. He shows up every episode to provide critical commentary on whatever fight is taking place. Truly one of the most iconic parts of this series.
On the writing side, Medabots is almost never serious. It's never wacky or over the top either. Most of the comedy comes from the characters being themselves and interacting, while the rest comes from a self-awareness the show has about what's going on. It doesn't take itself seriously, but still manages to deliver solid characterization and story for a shounen battle series. It doesn't treat the viewer like they're stupid, and doesn't pretend to be deeper than what it is.
Medabots (Or as the Japanese wrongly call it, Medarot) is an American series. A lot of what's good about this show is the result of Westernization, not just due to pieces of script and acting, but the series itself. America rearranged the order of the episodes entirely, and it works out pretty well for the most part. In the Japanese version, it's basically 30 straight episodes of "battle of the week" before the story kicks in, but America remade it so the show has two distinct arcs that are paced nicely.
It does create a tiny hole or two though. Four episodes in particular shoud have been in the first half of the series, but in order to cleanly make two 26-episode seasons, they had to be moved round. You can watch them in the first season if you want, but the only holes they create are things like Ikki having a certain part or one of the side characters having a new bot which show up in the season 1 finale, but the episodes where those things first appear are in season 2.
One of things that sticks out most about Medabots is the art style. Everyone has this kind of roundy-boxy cartoonish look to them, but it's kind of cool and stylish. I like it, it's unique and visually pleasing too. The designs for the robots are unlike any other anime, they're distinctly "Medabot". The animation is generally nothing stunning, but it's consistently good. The cinematography is dynamic and keeps things on screen looking cool or exciting regardless of what's happening. It reminds me a bit of Gainax's stuff in that respect, though obviously it's not as jaw-dropping. There's something about the choice of colors too, I think they used predominately warm hues in this show, kind of like FLCL. It's just pleasant.
Music? Are you kidding me?
Shows from this era had a thing about catchy rock anthems to get the kids all excited, and this hit the nail on the head. The BGM and sound effects were always satisfying. Bullets and explosion noises, rock beats in the background, etc. You're not going to be scouring the internet for an OST, but it gets the job done well.
So yeah, Medabots. It's kind of like a super robot show, it's kind of like a sports series, it's kind of like a shounen action romp, and it's all good. It's the perfect mixture of humor and badass, and though all of the toys and video games are long gone, it's still a distinctly good and watchable show for any fan of battle or classic fight of the week super robot series. Marketing series nowadays could learn a lot from it.
This is a show where one of the bad guys’ schemes is to redesign every house in a city. They wreck the house and rebuild as a Moai, a Pinocchio or a ukulele.
A little introduction so you’ll know what we’re talking about.
It can be scary to revisit an old childhood favorite. We’re easily impressed when we’re young because we haven’t experienced much. The first chocolate always tastes great, but it becomes ordinary the more types you try. Old favorites can have something cool in them, like battles and explosions but after a few years they made you glad you’ve grown.
I am a critical man who
often tires people in discussions. How surprised I was that Medabots was as good as I remembered. Sometimes, it’s even better.
It’s part of the wave of shows that were one big advertisement, like Yu-Gi-Oh!, Beyblade and Pokemon. Yet it tries its best to rise above it. This is not an anime that creates a battle system and a story that’s completely unrelated to it. Medabots‘ story is tied to its setting. You can’t tell the same story in Pokemon‘s or Yu-Gi-Oh!‘s world.
It often feels like Medabots was made by a bunch of guys who looked at battle shounen cliches, and decided to mess with them. Subversions are everywhere. The bad guys often make no sense at all. Their schemes involve building weird houses and a zoo full of penguins. It’s a response to the litany of dull villains who are evil because they’re evil. It points out how goofy the whole world domination is.
The RubberRobo Gang may not have an opposing worldview (although the series gets to that later). They remain evil for evil’s sake throughout the series, but their goofiness gives them humanity. They stop being villains, and become just a bunch of crazies who watched Digimon Adventure and thought they could be Miyotismon.
Ikki himself is a fairly different hero. He starts off as a loser, and remains a bit of one. He’s not given ‘sheer determination’ or ‘heart of gold’ for defining attributes. He’s defined more by his naive passion towards medabots (who are actually weapons). Sometimes anime love to give a quality like recklessness for a ‘flaw’, but it’s often one that ends up helping the hero and gives him charm.
Ikki is a narcisstic and brat who swings from adoring himself to giving up. He’s an average dude with dreams of glory but who actually has to go through hardship to gain it. He’s never truly heroic. He’s allowed to lose and to be an asshole. Ikki often loses not because he deals with a strong opponenet, but because he thinks too much of himself (or not enough about his partner). It’s the opposite of characters who shoot fireballs because they have enough faith in themselves.
Where the series truly outshines everyone else is when it questions its premise, and presents characters with alternative worldviews.
Rokusho is a pacifist. In a world where everyone is obsessed with shooting missiles at the other’s robots, he just likes to look at insects. A series of events lead him to a breakdown and eventually, to a robattle. This isn’t the fun battles of previous. This is a robot fighting because he genuinaly wants to hurt to destroy. This is also the moment when Robo-Emperor appears, who is classified as weapon-type.
This is when the series doesn’t just let the premise give us cool battles. It questions it. It forces the viewer to be reminded that, even though these medabots are cool they are in the end weapons. The whole final arc revolves around this theme. Unlike Evangelion, Medabots can explore its themes without having to resort to two episodes of inner monologues.
Its treatment of the subject matter is also very mature. It looks further than the pacifist/violence dichotomy. It’s a series where weapons are both used for fun sports and for destruction. It gives us various views – Rokusho’s pacifism, Ikki’s naivety, Victor’s cynicism and Aki’s greed. Even the way it ends is not by just getting stronger, but by destroying two giant weapons of war. Medabots’ view is that violence is fine, so long as its for sport.
The series doesn’t use this exploration to go slack on any other department. In fact, because everything else in the series is so good that it can be easy to miss this little bit of philosophy.
Before it goes deep, it’s a hilarious slice of life anime full of odd characters. It celebrates the characters’ goofiness. There is a running theme of narcissism here, where everyone thinks of themselves as bigger than they are. That sometimes ruins the halo of even the talented ones, like Dr. Aki. Spike remains a loser who doesn’t progress by becoming a winner, but by still trying. Karin is a love interest who refuses to play the role and remains oblivious to her admirers.
This is why the climax feels so powerful. The series establishes that all these people have a life of their own. These characters don’t just live for the journey. Rather, the journey is what happens between ordinary days. This is the role most of the lighter episodes. Some of them are pretty weak, but they’re an integral part of the experience. The climax wouldn’t be so powerful if the climax was the only thing there was.
The series also doesn’t forget to let us enjoy the coolness of medabots. Almost everyone of them is beautifully designed. Whereas most Digimon are just exaggerated versions of real-life animals and objects, Medabots has a style of its own. It creates a template and then forces various things – gorillas, beetles, kings – fit it. It’s always interesting to examine every medabot and see how they morphed the original subject to fit the style.
The action scenes are often brief, but intense. Despite the Medaforce serving as One-Hit-KO in many episodes, plenty of time rely on an actual startergy. The oppponent’s medabot has a certain style that Ikki and Metabee have to overcome. It means most opponents are defeated by just one missile, but first Ikki has to get them in a position where he could shoot the missile. The last robattle between team Japan and team Kenya also deserves an honorable mention. A fight so intense and beautifully animated it will keep me coming back.
There is also Mr. Referee, who teleports whenever there’s a robattle. It’s a complete absurdity that everyone is fine with. Then again, isn’t life absurd?
There are some flaws, of course. There are explorations that remain undeveloped, including a weird alien thing that doesn’t feel like it belongs. The battle system isn’t exactly well-thought-out in terms of specifics. There are some useless episodes and the Medolarian backstory needed more screen time. A series’ greatness isn’t measured by its lack of flaws, though. A series that just avoids flaws is like a food that avoids unpleasant tastes. More impressive is a series that overcome the flaws. It’s an anime that could be trimmed and polished on the sides, but the end result is full of fun characters, a deep exploration of a subject, goofy scenarios, intense fights and a fantastic. The last six episodes can only be watched in sitting. Despite the occasional flaw, it’s a rich anime full of many good things. Maybe that’s why it wasn’t so popular. It’s far more experimental. Thankfully, the experiment is more successful than anything I hope an anime can be.
The Wu-Tang Clan logo appears a few times, for some reason.
More Medabots! More Power! Review of Medabots (Seasons 1 & 2)
Story/Characters (8/10): The show actually had a good story even though the plot is incredibly similar to another more popular show. It starts off with a boy who wants to have a robot who later desires to compete in a robot competition to see who is the best robot champion. Seems familiar, wouldn't you say? Just replace robot with Pokemon.
Even though the show has a Pokemon-esque feel to it, the show makes up for it by having badass, relatable and funny characters. The badass/funny character being the Phantom Renegade. Relatability, belongs to the main characters
(Ikki Tenryo and Metabee) and his friends. The funny characters would have to be Mr. Referee and the RubberRobo Gang (their version of Team Rocket). The show does have its fair share of filler episodes along with the reusing of scenes but its not that bad.
Art/Animation (7/10): The art/animation looks old (1999) but the show is still watchable.
Sound/Music (9/10): The opening (American and Japanese) theme songs for the show was catchy and energising. All of the sounds were used appropriately. Though, there is one flaw that I'd like to point out, which is the copy-and-paste dialogue that Metabee uses. Lines like "Dude, I rock.", "Missiles launch." and etc. are reused throughout the show which made the show seem a bit repetitive.
Dub or Sub?: Both. I saw this dubbed and the voice actors did a very good job. The sub was also commendable.
Enjoyment/Summary/Overall (8/10): The show was good, funny and the flaws were minor. Though, it is unfortunate that the lovable characters from the show will not be seen again in Season 3. (FYI, the series switched hands from Bee Train to Production I.G. for Season 3.)
Similar Shows: Pokemon, Rockman.EXE (MegaMan NT Warrior)
I like medabots a lot, it was a fun concept. Robots with interchangeable parts you win off people. I had so many questions about this show when i was younger, like why anyone would let there kids gamble with expensive robot parts they payed for or they'd let kids play with robots that have live ammunition. As a adult all i could think about is how much gang warfare musta advanced.
Anyway onto the review, medabots was a show designed to move merchandise but it kept a actual plot which was nice and it wasn't silly like shoot beads or spinning tops that suddenly got faster.
It was like robots shooting missiles and bullets while kids gamble. This gave it more of a pokemon quality where battles were fun to watch and it even shocked you with letting the hero lose now and again! It really is like pokemon tho with its silly gag gang enemy who gets sent off into the sunset nearly every episode and normally the defeat of a new friend/rival. It eventually grows a real plot and you get to watch them take down a whole organization and a mad scientist so unlike pokemon you get a pay off for watching.
The art and sound are always pretty fun and enjoyable even if nothing is spectacular. Its a pretty standard style anime that's really just cool cause of all the robot fighting! I do like that robots all look different and have good color schemes.
Characters, well you got a very standard set of characters. Unlikely hero, his sorta girl friend, his unjustifiably angry rival with a inferiority complex. A fun addition is a gang of kids who like to bully the main character and help him once and awhile. Then you got the adult gang who always get defeated by a group of 10 year olds for some reason. I don't particularly have a favorite character or even a noteworthy comment about any of them, they are just a standard set of characters.
I really enjoy watching this show cause its just fun to watch,Robots battling isn't that what its all about? so if you like shows like pokemon but aren't pokemon and eventually have a logical and satisfying conclusion, Watch medabots.
For the past 20 years, children and adults alike have dreamed of what it would be like to go get a little Pocket Monster partner from a professor and start beating Gyms. But Pokemon is not the only series to feature partnerships and we need something to tide us over while we wait for Sun and Moon!