In the not so distant future much of the earth has been submerged under the sea or destroyed by earthquakes. At the center of the turmoil is the mysterious Orphan. Orphan may or may not be the original cause of the cataclysms. Orphan`s goal is to raise a ship hidden deep beneath the sea to the surface, but doing so would result in the destruction of all humans except for the small number which are loyal to Orphan.
Orphan`s agents pilot mysterious mecha known as Grand Cheres, and search the world for mysterious, giant disks which occasionally appear, flying at high speeds and wrecking much of the countryside, or cities, when they hit the ground. After a dying disc almost kills Hime, a Brain Powerd is born from the disc. Brain Powerds are another type of Mecha, similar to but not the same as Grand Cheres.
Hime becomes the Brain Powerd`s pilot, forming a symbiotic relationship with the living mecha and joins an International Organization dedicated to stopping Orphan, or at the very least saving humanity should Orphan succeed.
There are a few series out there that claim controversy as part of their aura. These are shows like Evangelion, who for some reveal a mess of whine, and for others a complex basket of goods. Brain Powered falls in to this controversy in a matter I can’t quite fathom, because for some it is incomprehensible. The reason I can’t fathom the controversy is because it made perfect sense to me, and I don’t exactly see where the confusion lies. Despite the fact that for many fans watching this is among the worst anime experiences in their lives, I am going to proudly proclaim this
a masterpiece, and hopefully give a satisfying reason why.
When Tomino promoted this film, he claimed it was “even better than Evangelion”. This is an extremely brash statement for any director to make, but in a sense he’s right. It touches the same issues as Evangelion at many parts, but ultimately it’s better for the soul. It is an uplifting defense of the power of love at its core, and thus while I would *not* agree that it’s higher quality, it might be better to watch and enjoy.
So what exactly is this show that defends love against all? Brain Powerd is about biomechanical living mechs fighting for or against Orphan, a ship that will sail to the stars, but requires draining the energy of all life on earth to succeed. On both sides are troubled teens from broken families, who struggle to overcome their hangups as much as their enemies.
What makes this show a masterpiece is the characters. I’ll grant that they aren’t by any means easy characters. They are difficult to understand, and some of them are almost impossible to relate to, such as the antagonist Jonathan. The way the characters behave is complex, and they hide a lot of their feelings. This is what underlies many of the complaints about this show. Without their hearts on their sleeves, sometimes a character will do something “random”, such as Yuu’s defection in the first episode. But once you piece together the characters, everything they do makes sense. Until then, trying to read them is like trying to read real humans. And it’s important to note that the characters are weird. They aren’t weird in the sense that they are incomprehensible, but rather that they have unique modes of expression that don’t conform to stock anime archetypes.
This show, basically, refuses to ever pander to the audience. It requires your full attention to understand. It’s no secret that that which demands the most out of you gives the greatest rewards. I could talk about the plot and characters all day, there’s plenty to chew on in those regards. Instead, I’ll give a brief word to the other aspects of this work.
The animation is interesting, though maybe not conventionally beautiful. This especially applies to the fights, which function in a specifically non-fluid manner. The antibodies (mechs) sort of “blink” short distances, giving the whole fight a surreal vibe. They often take place over water, specifically utilizing these two mediums in an interesting manner. I really think the fights over water are quite elegant, some of the more memorable mech fights out there. The character designs have been criticized as rather bland, but I never got that impression. I especially like Hime’s design.
The music is the only thing about this series that is universally acclaimed, and that’s with good reason. Yoko Kano, famous for Cowboy Bebop, is the one on charge of this front. The opening by Eri Shingyoji, “In My Dream”, is one of my favorite openings of all time.
While we’re on the topic, this is another key gripe about the show. The opening features every character naked for no apparent reason. It’s a bit abstract, but my interpretation has always been that when they are stripped bare, at their core what they need is love. Of course, the clothes represent the revealing of their emotions, and the lyrics are what implies that it’s about needing love. This fits in because it is, arguably, the key concept of the show.
To sum up my overall impression of the show; Brain Powerd is a drama of the most intriguing characters whose outside conflict mirrors their inner struggles. It’s a bit hokey at times, and it’s not as philosophically deep as it thinks it is, but Tomino directs cheerfully and with a good sense of humor, leading to a show that is downright inspiring. It is basically the optimistic version of Evangelion. I can’t recommend it to everyone, only a few viewers will “get it”, but for those who do this is a fantastic and sublime show.
The obligatory quote from the show:
"Iko, where did you learn to hoe a straight line like that?!?" - About 50 children to an amnesiac girl.
Just a touch of background before I begin to describe the awfulness that is to come: Brain Powerd aired in April of 1998, barely 8 months after End of Evangelion came out, and as such, has the distinction of being the first post-Eva Evangelion clone. Headed by Yoshiyuki Tomino, known for his Gundam series, a mecha staple, and the studio Sunrise- also known for any and everything mecha,
it sounded like a match made in heaven. Who better to put together a masterpiece and show that hack Hideaki Anno who was the REAL anime master?
Yeah, no. Get ready for this.
Artwork and Animation: 1
Where do I even start? God-awful? Horse shit? Regurgitated Excrement?
It's the typical low budget schlock- repeated zooming in on characters for "effect", panning over still frames, action lines galore, and a ton of "quality" animation. It even has inserts that show the characters heads when they speak, on top of the action. What this does is instead distract you from anything with a modicum of excitement to hit you with some dialogue like a brick to the face.
The art looks like you took Gundam, Code Geass, and Evangelion, put them in a burnt out blender, ran it through the garbage disposal, fed it to the dog, picked it up as it fell out of the dog's rear (post reingestion after regurgitation), lit it on fire, took the charred mush that was left and then buried it in a shallow grave. Come back 18 years later, pee all over it, stomp a mud hole in it, and then spit on it. That's what Brain Powerd looks like. Clear enough for ya?
Sound and Voice Acting: 2
This is truly the epitome of a bad dub. The actors must have all been deaf, or were required to put earplugs in before recording, because they shout in a nearly unimaginably monotone way that they come across as though they've never heard a human speak in their lives. They sound like deaf cavemen shouting words at random. EVERY. SINGLE. LINE comes out like a non sequitur as if just to fill the awkward, dead air in between speaking parts. The editing is among, if not THE worst I've ever heard, where there are audible cuts, stops, gaps, and just generally garbage to piss poor quality recordings. The actors are sometimes too far away from the mic, and sometimes it's so loud it's as though they ate it!
There's absolutely no flow to the voices, everyone speaks in a really monotone voice, whether it's super hammed up, super flat, or super screechy- everything is idiotically overdone. The audio track is also edited so poorly, it's as though there was only one single track, and it didn't allow for anyone to talk over each other, or it would cut the first speaker off entirely. I think the entire auditory half of the show was done in one take, with absolutely no edits. The script must have been a direct translation from Japanese and the first ten geeks off the street were selected to perform these roles.
I watched several episodes of the Japanese audio and it was absolute garbage as well.
I give this one extra point purely out of respect for Yoko Kanno, whose name graces this otherwise abhorrent turd of a show. I'm still in disbelief that she agreed to work on this, and maybe she didn't even know what it was, because the music absolutely blows just like the voice acting. I can barely even hum the opening theme to myself, much less actively recall any kind of insert or background music in the show.
Story and Characters: 1
Since Brain is an Evangelion ripoff, I have to at least discuss the shameless theft that Yoshiyuki Tomino and studio Sunrise committed in the process of producing this piece of crap. Let's begin superficially, shall we?
The world is going to be devastated and humanity wiped out by the event of this mountain range sized space ship called "Orphan" taking off (read: Third Impact). There are two warring factions- one that reside in Orphan itself (read: SEELE) growing semi-sentient mechas called "Grand Cheres" (read: Evas), and the lawful good faction that live on a ship with a PYRAMID ON TOP OF IT (read: NERV) that accumulate their own "living" mechas, called BRAIN POWERDS. Funnily enough, Kensaku Isami (read: budget Gendo Ikari) is the father of the main character, Yuu (read: Shinji), who is a incompetent, whiny brat. Yuu's struggle is with his teen angst, and family- including a sister who styles herself Quincy Issa, because she thinks it makes her sound like a badass.
There's also Hime Utsumiya, our Asuka analogue, Jonathan the hotheaded mommy issues emo, and a bevy of supporting characters who serve little to no purpose other than to make my eyes hurt more than they already do, post 26 episodes of this trash. The bottom line is that everyone has mommy or daddy issues. Heck, one dude tries to kill his mom because she wouldn't buy him a Christmas present.
So, what the hell is the plot to this thing? BEATS FREAKING ME. I spent about 9 hours watching this show, and I still have no clue what the heck happened, was supposed to happen, or if there was even an intention of "happen" in the writing. The first episode really set the tone for the entire series- NOTHING made sense, nothing was connected, and it's never explained who characters are, their motives, goals, pasts, futures, or why I should give a flying flip about them in the first place. Even various scenes in the same episode don't work, given how absolutely random and jarring they are, whether from time skips, jump cuts, or any amount of ineptitude in even the most basic forms of storytelling. I will never willingly watch something made by Tomino ever again. This is the most moronic, nonsensical crap I've ever seen.
There was some really hamfisted environmental protection agenda crap at the end... and there was a betrayal I didn't even know was a betrayal because the character was never introduced, they just kind of appeared... there was a twist that... didn't matter in the slightest, Gendo Ikari was reduced to a snivelling, impotent, crying nerd; mechas ice skating, an absolute lack of information involving anything (I have more questions after it ended than I managed to write down), robots that apparently get tired?, and not one, not two, but THREE TACKED ON, PURPOSELESS ROMANCES. We also have fluid suits (read: plug suits) that help the driver of the Brain interface better, mechas ice skating, amnesia, fake drama, BIGGER BAD and well, I could probably read off a laundry list of TV Tropes this show uses, but my life was shortened already just by watching, so I'll refrain.
Enjoyment and Overall: 1
I'm forever damaged after watching this show. Let this review stand as testament to my masochist's constitution, as this pushed me to my outer bounds and beyond. I have suffered through Idea Factory, Tokyo Ghoul Root A, The Super Mario Anime, and many, many others. One could even say I'm a purveyor of old, bad anime. But this... this takes the crown. I have been there and seen bad anime. I actively seek out bad anime. If I had known that something that was such odious refuse as this was as astoundingly horrible as it was, I would never have even so much as searched "Neon Genesis Evangelion ripoff shows"
It fails on every fundamental level, and in every way imaginable. The plot is complete nonsense, the characters have no motivation nor goals, it looks and sounds like ass, and it's not even funny in how bad it is. It's just painful.
There's a reason Brain Powerd has not been remembered by time- because it's indescribably asinine.
Lastly, I have to end with the only scene in the entire show that made me laugh, because this whole thing is painful to recount in a review.
So, Yuu Isami, piloting his Brain Powerd, drops out of hyperspace in the bumfuck mountains of rural China (somehow he knows he's in China, I guess because he read the script.) and an illiterate farmer wearing one of those conical straw hats (yeah, he's not the only racial stereotype character in the show, either) SOMEHOW knows that the robot he's flying is an "antibody" (another stupid name for the same mechs). The show jump cuts to Yuu landing, he jumps out and picks up a watermelon out of the field and just starts going to town stuffing his face with it.
The Chinese guy and about 15 others pull out AKs and blast the fucking watermelon to kingdom come and Yuu starts freaking out, asking "HEY WHAT DID YOU DO THAT FOR???"
WHAT THE HELL DID HE THINK WAS GOING TO HAPPEN, dropping into a remote mountain range in China, where he cannot communicate, and STEALS food that is their only sustenance????
Welcome to Brain Damagd: Yoshiyuki Tomino’s mentally handicapped potential answer to Evangelion. Comparing the latter to the former is comparing Hyperion to a satyr. Perhaps that isn’t strong enough to indicate the sheer gap between the two, or what an utter waste of time this dreck is for those not seeking to witness every single Tomino, mecha, and post-Eva anime out there.
The writing is more detrimental than a lobotomy, and more nonsensical than lobotomizing an infant. Their horrendous Eva-inspired attempts at biomechanical pseudoscience and Gundam-inspired attempts at terminology, are as convoluted as they are
nonsensical and inconsistent. The show is also spectacularly blunt to the point of telling you exactly what a character is like constantly despite how obvious it is just from the interactions, yet next to none of these characters have any real consistency. Half of what “characters” say and do, particularly early on, directly contradict what was told and shown to us prior, as early as the end of episode 1. Hell, the “characters” can’t even be called caricatures, let alone what I put in quotation marks, with the exception of a fucking scientist side-character and a boring yet remotely competently-written purple-haired girl. None of the rest have concrete personalities and all of them dramatically at the drop of a hat, often within the same scene. This is especially problematic at the beginning, not only because this is where it is most prevalent, but because this is supposed to be the first impression, where we get to know these “characters”.
Whenever they even try to give these characters backstories and conflicts, they come from the most hackneyed and unforeshadowed of places, and that’s excluding things done offscreen. Then again, this series has a real penchant for introducing things right out of thin air. Not only do the aforementioned characters engage in excessive last-minute flashbacks as a result, but they also reveal themselves to humongous hypocrites...and we’re supposed to root for the protagonists when they suffer from this almost exclusively. The main protagonist (and yes, none of these cunts deserve to be named) is the worst offender of this, going from kissing to harassing the female deuteragonist -whom he barely even knows let alone seems to like- in a split second, constantly, and goes from acting like an insufferable jackass to an idealistic kid who can’t even get his reasoning straight for why he defected from an organization he previously white-knighted like it was his girlfriend -not like he had one to begin with but damn if they’re gonna try to make him seem like an actual human being worth keeping alive-. Then again, this is partially because they constantly try to play coy with why he left and make it such a mystery, much to the obvious detriment of absolutely everything. He is honestly one of the worst protagonists in anime, and out of all the nothing characters who leave next to no impression in your mind, he stands out simply by virtue of being toxically broken and hateful.
Maybe Tomino should have thought twice before trying to do Eva backwards.
The visual presentation is unfortunate as well. The mech designs are bland and generic, without any thought into making them look like anything other than unmarketable drones. The character designs are, if nothing else, pleasant for most part, and they are generally on-model, even if actual animation for both the characters and mechs is somewhat limited, if not incredibly awkward in some cases. Fight scenes are downright horrendous, especially since in these particular sequences, shots almost never flow into each other, and they either have very stilted and limited animation, or try the kind of shorthand that could only ever work in DBZ. Even outside of fight sequences, the editing is generally horrible and nonsensical. Whatever CGI techniques they used such as trying to make ocean water CGI, is almost embarrassingly done as well, but that is the least of the visuals’ problems when the show can rarely do rain in a way that isn’t mortifyingly obvious that they drew lines and moved them back and forth for ten seconds. When your opening sequence begins with a borderline laughable static moving background effect, you know you’re in for a production misfire.
The music is honestly the least atrocious aspect of it, not that it says much, as even Yoko Kanno couldn’t operate at full capacity. The music is largely, and said music often doesn’t fit when it tries to be more than just stand-in fluff, particularly in the first half. The OP theme is barely any better, and while the ED theme is probably the best piece of music here, it is hardly memorable past the first 10 seconds. The voice acting is also subpar at best, with line delivery that ranges from mediocre to terrible for a majority of the characters. Then again, the script they have to work with is honestly abysmal, so much so that some things just could not work, regardless of acting quality.
Brain Damagd is honestly a bothersome experience that stops being bizarrely horrible and just becomes a slog filled with a detestable and borderline nothing cast, and a narrative that works on absolutely no level. Even the audiovisuals are not worthwhile. I wouldn’t even recommend screenwriting enthusiasts to go in for a full autopsy of this disaster, or recommend it to anyone who desperately needs to suffer through every post-eva show out there. I'm not even sure why I’m talking about it or why I watched it; this braindead travesty is an absolute waste of time that should have never been made, barring its ridiculous concepts and some laughable moments. To be perfectly fair, there were moments when the show clearly tried to be meaningful and even human, but they are mere blips in a sea of embarrassment. Unless you plan to watch every Tomino, Post-Eva, or mech anime out there, or watch this with friends, you’re probably better off not acknowledging this show’s existence, unless you want a cheap laugh here and there. Perhaps someone can make a best hits of this show's schlockiest moments; that would be the definitive Brain Damagd experience.
Wait...the fuck do you mean it’s not called Brain Damagd?!
The concepts behind this story are not bad, not bad at all. on the contrary, biotechnology concepts are sound science fiction concepts, best used on Babylon 5 for instance where you see Vorlons and Shadows with huge living ships...
But my, something basic to any story is continuity and coherence...and those two are missing here.
The story begins with one premise...then turns into boring mecha action...then turns into a try-to-be psychological drama, then try to be again a science fiction story...
It tries a lot of things but fails short to every goal.
The very first premise is lost at the end...weren't they trying
to stop the enormous ship to rise or all life on Earth would perish? But the ship ends in space...and nothing much happen aside tidal effects.
And there is no real end to the whole story...
And they began to display something interesting on episode 25 (the memories inside Orphan, depicting it locked in battle over Earth with another ship like it...and then explaining that Grand Chers are from Orphan and Brains are from the other ship...and then nothing else is said about that...and the fate of the other ship...or why they were in battle...
Good ideas, good overal concept but a mediocre execution, failing to make the story work...
A pitty...this could have been in concept something better than Evangelion...but ended being a really haphazardly made series...