Emi is a seventeen-year-old girl living in Shibuya. Her father is always away with work and she's grown listless. Suddenly, a twist of fate involving a certain magical item changes everything. A mysterious pencil, of all things, is linked to the appearance of heroes from another world! Could this be the start to the excitement she's so desperately craving, or is there something more?
Note: This review only covers the 2017 TV series as the story continues with the 2018 movie. Infini-T Force is a superhero crossover featuring 1970’s superheroes from Tatsunoko Productions as a celebration for their 55th anniversary. However, the show is a mixed bag of content unable to properly balance its agenda while trying to incorporate 4 different superhero franchises & doesn’t do a good job in representing or explaining those characters to a new audience. Meanwhile fans that are familiar with these classic superheroes could be discouraged from watching the show given the different interpretations of said heroes. There are some redeemable factors to Infini-T
Force but not many for the established Tatsunoko fan.
The show follows the story of a girl named Emi who’s suffering from suicidal thoughts & is neglected by her father. One day, 4 superheroes appear who help Emi face her life problems meanwhile 4 villains are destroying other dimensions while pursuing Emi who has an object they’re seeking called “The Case”; a magic pencil that can alter reality.
My worry since the announcement of the anime in 2016 was this question. “Will Infini-T Force ruin 4 franchises or will it be able to respect each of their source material?” To my disappointment, Infini-T Force succeeds in representing only 1 hero out of 4. A big problem for this anime is using 4 different superhero series & 12 episodes aren’t enough to utilize the heroes to their full potential. Obvious evidence is the lack of proper introductions to a hero’s background as they each carry a lot of history with multiple anime adaptations. Within episodes 1 & 2 the main cast suddenly appear with very little explanation to their super powers, demeanor & their viewpoints of justice as if the show expects the audience to already know them.
Infini-T Force features the following superheroes:
Ken The Eagle from Gatchaman 1972. Previous English versions dubbed the series Battle Of The Planets, G FORCE, & Eagle Riders. (Gatchaman Crowds is a spin-off series unrelated to Ken The Eagle. ) Ken is the leader of the Science Ninja Team Gatchaman who use a bird theme for costumes & can be considered one of the earliest versions of Power Rangers. Ken the Eagle doesn’t have any super powers but uses various weapons such as Bird Run aka Birdarang & numerous ninja techniques. His personality during the 1st Gatchaman series depended heavily on sadness & anger as his father was killed by the terrorist organization Galactor. In later stories such as Gatchaman 2 & Gatchaman Fighter, Ken matures from his loss & becomes a dependable leader capable of taking charge & performing difficult life & death decisions. Within Infini-T Force Ken is in his leader state usually taking control of the team but also gets too much attention compared to the other characters. Emi spends the most time with Ken being the hero who ultimately helps solve her daddy issues.
Casshan from Casshan 1973. Before Megaman, there was Azuma Tetsuya who participated in an experiment to become a new cyborg called a “Neoroider”/”Newly Built Man” to battle the robot army Andro Force led by Braiking Boss/Black King. Being mostly machine, Casshan has super physical prowess with electric attacks & the Super Destructive Beam. His dog Friender can breathe fire & transform into vehicles. (Friender doesn’t show these abilities in Infini-T Force). The original Casshan series is akin to a robot apocalypse where Casshan, his girlfriend Luna & his dog Friender are the only heroes fighting an entire army in a conquered world. Casshan also fights to rescue his mom & dad adding a very dramatic quest for the lone hero. Unlike the Casshan Robot Hunter OVA 1993 & Casshern Sins 2008, the original Casshan is a very emotional & encouraging heroic character who sacrificed his humanity for the world’s freedom acting as a symbol of hope. But those same people don’t like robots so Casshan is often prejudiced. Unfortunately, Infini- T Force uses a very emotionless version of Casshan who barely contributes much dialogue and is unsuccessful to create a sympathetic mood when compared to past adaptations.
Hurricane Polymar from Hurricane Polymar 1974. After a disagreement with his father Yoroi Takeshi runs away from home & works at the Kurama Detective Agency. Takeshi also comes in contact with the Polymet; a helmet that gives him superpowers of the “Spin Change”. With his martial arts background, Takeshi uses the Polymet to create a new martial art known as Hurricane Kenpo & with the Spin Change he can shapeshift into vehicles such as giant drill, a car, a plane, etc. Polymar is very hot blooded in the pursuit of beating up bad guys but his morals are a bit questionable given how violently he fights. In Infini-T Force Takeshi is not as energetic as his 70’s counterpart and comes off as very bi-shonen wanting to be friends with everyone in the world. Admittedly, he has the least depth from the 4 heroes but in the original series he at least cared to rescue his father, friends & civilians whenever he had the chance.
Tekkaman from Tekkman 1975. (Tekkaman Blade is a reboot following different leading characters but similar story). Minami Jouji loses his father from the wrath of alien invaders known as The Waldaster. To battle these aliens Minami Jouji volunteers in the Tek Set experiment becoming Tekkaman The Space Knight. Armed with the Tek Lancer & Tek Whip, Tekkman can fire energy attacks from his forehead & fly with the help of his robot friend Pegas. (In the original Pegas was able to talk but is treated as an object in the Infini-T Force version.) In the 1975 story, Tekkaman was very young, angry & careless in his pursuit of ridding the Waldester but felt guilt when he accidently killed a family of innocent aliens. He was also racist towards Andro; a good alien who helped The Space Knights. As the story progressed, Tekkaman becomes friends with Andro putting their differences aside. His character in Infini-T Force is older and calmer than his 1975 version which shows an interesting display of maturity. While treated well within the show, regrettably Tekkaman has few scenes that allow him to show his growth as a man since Ken often takes the spotlight from other characters.
Balance is difficult as Infini-T Force tries to juggle qualities aimed for two different age demographics; fans of the old shows & new viewers of modern times. While the anime initially draws the attention of the original fans by creating this superhero crossover it also displeases them with the “handsome” character redesigns when out of costume. It’s clearly an attempt to market the heroes as eye candy to the current generation of anime fans. While redesigns are welcomed to encourage more watchers, the characters don’t look & behave like their 1970’s sources. There’s several scenes depicting them as possible shipping partners for Emi to the point where it resembles a reverse harem especially when the 4 guys suddenly move in to her apartment.
Many episodes alternate tone between a serious family drama, an epic superhero crossover and a slice of life female fantasy which all collide with each other. The worst aspects of it are the eating scenes as the series does a poor job in creating conversations. When things aren’t in a serious scene most of the time is spent on characters dining. This can work as an intimate approach for characters to learn more about each other but it often becomes a repetitive safety net. For whatever reason just about every peaceful moment has to be done while eating or cooking which grows stale. There’s other ways for characters to interact with each other but Infini-T Force has to constantly squeeze in these meal times at every possible opportunity rather than having the cast do other activities to develop their friendship. It even manages to ruin the impact of certain scenes as they’ll talk about something food related even when a battle reaches its climax.
Possibly the best material from Infini-T Force is the main villain Z who offers a perspective of overprotective parenting. While Z’s main objective is to save the life of his daughter the sinful decisions he makes is what makes this show interesting. In the original stories from Tatsunoko in the 1970’s the heroes would have a recurring usage of bonding with their father usually by rescuing or avenging him. Having the villain Z being challenged as a father figure in these dangerous circumstances is a good tribute to past works of Tatsunoko Productions.
On the other hand, the superheroics of this crossover are underwhelming when you’re well versed in any of the superheroes lore. The fight scenes are definitely cool & manages to be very well choreographed but there’s many missed opportunities for the characters to teach their roots to new viewers & pushes away their old school fan base. Casshan in the original series forfeited his humanity so he can’t feel or taste. While this show does try to make a sorrowful character its very anticlimactic for Casshan to have a human form projector. Sure he still doesn’t feel like a human being but the message would be stronger if Casshan didn’t have any human features. Aside from his brief conflict with Raja Kaan, Casshan doesn’t achieve much in this series especially not to viewers wanting to see a dark storyline similar to Casshern Sins or an emotional struggle like the 1973 Casshan anime. Casshan is simply too emotionless nor does he acknowledge his surroundings. In every version, Casshan comes from an apocalyptic wasteland so he should be surprised being sent to a peaceful world. Casshan never mentions his battle with Braiking Boss or his struggles in being an ostracized hero so it personally leaves me very unfulfilled. The original Hurricane Polymar wasn’t too heavy with plot nor did it go into complex viewpoints of right or wrong. Infini-T Force doesn’t interfere much with his character but it barely does anything new. At the start, Polymar seems to have a grudge with the villain Damian Gray but it’s quickly dropped. Tekkaman offers some resolution to the ending of his 1975 anime as it was cancelled with an inconclusive ending but the conflict with the villain Belle Lynn offers a small development to his character. It was a good dispute of opinions yet feels miniscule when compared to the overall theme created by Z & Emi. For better or worse, Ken the Eagle is the only superhero who gets a lot of focus but Gatchaman fans will be upset at certain things. For reasons unknown many characters nickname Ken as an old man or “Gramps” which is annoying. The same occurs to Tekkaman being branded as “Professor”. Ken along with the other heroes are around the same age of late teens and early twenties at least when referring to the original 1970 series. While it’s clear that Tekkaman & Ken have matured the most from their 70s counterparts, but they’re not old enough to be referred as older men especially when compared to Z. There’s also a recurring joke of Ken being unfamiliar with modern technology implying he comes from an older time period which is a bit odd as the other heroes also come from settings of the 70’s.
Ultimately, Infini-T Force’s biggest flaw was attempting to accomplish too much in very little time. It doesn’t appeal to fans of the originals but does little to draw in a new crowd. The fight scenes are cool, the drama is good when it’s the main focus of the episode but the superheroes feel extremely shallow especially when they’re in Ken’s shadow. While I can see the importance of Ken The Eagle as a leader & has shown the most growth in the original Gatchman series of 205 episodes even as a fan I am upset that the other heroes don’t have much to do. The same can be said for the new villains exclusively for this anime as Z is ultimately the character with the most emphasis on Emi & the story.
Can this show appeal to superhero fans? How does Infini-T Force fair against other superhero anime? Well it’s certainly better than 2017’s The Reflection but when paired up to the original anime storylines from the 1970’s,,, Infini-T Force doesn’t hold a candle. This was advertised as a “Superhero Crossover” yet the end result is more of guest appearances in the life of a sad girl. Rather than showing heroic things a lot of time feels a bit wasted with numerous dialogue scenes inside an apartment or eating. It’s not the spectacular superhero action that people would want. While the action scenes are impressive when they occur but they’re just too short to really appreciate the excitement. While the story isn’t awful it lacks focus & respect. The manga version of Inifini-T Force surprisingly puts a greater deal on the superhero roots of each character even informing the readers their past adventures & struggles. While the manga is still being published in the USA, I’d recommend that over this show, definitely to fan of the original anime they’re based on. But what about new viewers who don’t have any knowledge of these superheroes? Can they enjoy the show? Perhaps….if you’re willing to endure a messy structure of storytelling, however this anime will not resemble the anime these characters come from. So if it does succeed in getting a new person interested in the 1970’s anime I can’t easily picture those people being able to watch a different version of the characters they saw from Infini-T Force and feel happy. Maybe it can work if the source material gets them engaged but everyone’s different so I wouldn’t know for sure.
In terms of superhero anime, Infini-T Force is a decent show but to viewers who wanted to see their favorite classic superheroes return…. it’s very disappointing. Infini-T Force is certainly tries to be ambitious but I would encourage watching the 70’s anime, reading the Infini-T Force manga or the following series:
Gatchaman, Gatchaman 2, Gatchman F, Gatchaman OVA 1994
Casshan 1973, Casshan Robot Hunter OVA
Hurricane Polymar 1973, Shin Hurricane Polymar OVA
Devilman Crybaby based on the Devilman 1972 Manga
Cyborg 009 VS Devilman, Cyborg 009 2001,
Keyman Hand of Judgment
Guyver The Bio Boosted Armor 2005
Garo The Animation, Garo Vanishing Line
I'm reviewing this from a mostly non-fan point of view (mostly cos I watched Gatchaman S1 but hardly remember it).
Kinda cliched in some areas, but overall quite interesting. There's some plot and mystery here and there, and I'm glad that there are not too much storyline cliches in there. Given that this is a kinda superhero kind of show, the villains are somewhat cliche but overall it is great.
The animation is fluid and simply amazing. It's like watching Gantz: Osaka and the FF series movies, but for 12 episodes, which is pretty amazing. This is not to mention that the animation is really realistic.
To be honest, the characters are kinda 2 dimensional at times. It seems that the main differentiating factor between all the characters (including the villains) is their abilities, and more attention are drawn towards Ken and Emi rather than the others. More importantly, not much is touched on any character, thus all the characters seem rather shallow. One good point about the characters though, is that they all have some kind of background story that leads them to their actions (which is much better than seeming to be random).
A definite 10, the animation and some plot lines are simply amazing.
Easily one of the best anime series I have watched based on animation, and with quite a good plot to back it up with. I would recommend anyone who like great 3D CGI shows to watch this.
I was initially excited with the first Casshan fight, which was fun... and then the show was a bit of a letdown until late in the series when Emi's character arc actually goes somewhere. The good news is that now I won't have nightmares of someone repeating "TAH-KEHHH-SHEEEE" over and over in various ways.
The "heroes from different worlds/dimensions gathering in one place to fight a common enemy" is all over the place, from just about every "Tales" series, to "Kingdom Hearts" to "Final Fantasy" to "Cyborg 009 vs Devilman" to a lot of comic crossovers. It leads to a lot of very similar villains and
plots. This one is largely no exception. What makes such a story stand out individually is the art, the character relationships, and how creative the creative team gets with mixing different character skills. Unfortunately this series managed to screw up pretty much all of those.
One of the main problems is that the dialogue is so bad. I'm not sure if it's a translation problem or what, or if it's the levels of nostalgic corniness being used on purpose a la this group of older franchise heroes, but ugh. Almost every line is like each character talking to a wall at the end of an episode of their respective series, which leads to a garbled mess of the audience asking "what was I supposed to get out of that conversation? How did you get to that conclusion? Why are you friends? What are you asking this person to do? What are your goals?" For example, a large portion of the series is the heroes getting annoyed at Emi's apathy, and their inability to get through to her. Yet their dialogue with her so nonsensical and basically comes down to "Why are you like this? I feel like yelling more about something!" It makes you actually dislike the heroes, who have no ability to communicate, and keep harassing this teenager who's letting them freeload at her house (except for Tetsuya, who doesn't say all that much).
The dialogue makes so little sense that Emi's realization and the chipping away of her apathy feels completely random, like the script writers realized "well, we need to move on with the plot now, so I guess she needs to stop being so apathetic." Perhaps another issue is that the creative team behind this worked very hard to make a truly boring character who does nothing other than get angry at her friends, attempt suicidal driving on the road after school, then draw the same sunset every day, and go to sleep, that they added a whole TONE of apathy to the story. That is not fixable by Corny + Co. doing their Heroic Grins At The Camera or saying catch phrases or doing poses. And the irony is that Emi is ultimately the only really likeable character other than maybe Joji, who tries, and Tetsuya, who seems more like a kicked puppy for the whole series. Emi has a character arc that, at least if you've seen these series before, you understand. The other heroes just... sort of exist. They fall into familiar tropes with antagonists who are largely uninteresting, and come to half-assed mini epiphanies with their particular villains that have little effect on their personalities/arcs before moving on with the plot.
So much of the latter end of the series is characters yelling at each other without listening or changing that you can basically tune out the final battle without missing anything, which is pretty bad. "I love you!" "But I want to change!" "But I love you!" "But I want to change!" and so on, you've seen it before, insert long, pointless battle in a void where the points don't matter because the damage isn't real and it's sort of a dream anyway.
The 3D animation isn't awful. The almost-human faces are a bit cringey at times, but the animation is best used for mechanical things, like Casshan's armor, Friender, and the primary antagonist's outfit, although the Halloween costume scene was pretty good. The animation is worst in the flashback scenes that show up more and more in the latter half of the series. Combined with the even worse and at times pretty darn creepy dialogue, it's just altogether shudder-worthy. The fight sequences are largely forgettable, except for that first Casshan fight, where Casshan owns everyone. Which is hilarious because I'm pretty sure that's why he's largely left out of the rest of the series? Because he's stronger than everyone apparently?
I know I keep harping on Casshan and Emi, but honestly one of the few highlights of the series was when they interact. There's an early scene where the protagonist gang are in a crumbling subway and while the three 'adult' heroes are discussing things, Emi, Friender, and Casshan are exploring the area in a sort of childlike manner. It's pretty sweet, and honestly a lot less creepy than every scene where Emi is a literal child in flashbacks. Friender as 'Group Dog' is adorable. Joji as 'Group Parent' is sweet, although the way they keep harping on him being 'nerdy' or whatever just breaks the suspension of disbelief for a while. Like... you all use mechanical armor and weapons? Is there something wrong with like... knowing basic information now? This wouldn't be so bad if there wasn't literally a scene where Takeshi compliments Joji for knowing a vagueish definition of Halloween. Like... the pseudo-detective thinks the 'nerdy' dude should be congratulated for maybe reading wikipedia or Google badly? Huh? It's awkwardness and bad dialogue like this that fills the series, making it hard to relate to these people.
As a last note on delivery, I'll bring Casshan back again: his inability to taste things is brought up a couple times throughout the series, but it's poorly handled after the first time, and the way the heroes react to it doesn't make sense. Joji thinks it can be solved mechanically. Takeshi says "NO MECHANICS AREN'T AN ISSUE FOR THE CYBORG" and Ken probably also thinks that FEELINGS WILL WIN THE DAY. What ultimately happens? Well... we don't know. Literally. They don't tell us. This mini thing just resolves itself for no apparent reason. Anyone who has watched these kind of series can think of several reasons why, on their own, but without editorializing, it's a weird sort of joke/character developmentish thing that's dealt with badly.
Why do these characters fight together? Honestly it's because they need to. There's that generic camaraderie that arises from people thrown into a bad situation together, but by the time we're supposed to believe this is one unit, we've seen no evidence of bonding experience outside episode 1. Tetsuya wakes up surrounded by these people but doesn't even question it. You know. As you do. Ken, the vaguely chauvinistic old-fashioned weirdo whose odd technophobia is badly played for laughs, despite his introduction involving him in a high-tech jet attacking a mechanical base... from the beginning you can see that he's going to be the one Emi goes through an emotional bonding experience with, because of course the two who hate each other the most will bond by the end. The predictability isn't bad, but Ken is so unlikable as a character, if for no other reason that there's nothing funny or interesting about him, and he's basically the weakest of the group until late in the series, that you don't really care about his relationship with Emi until the end of the series. He doesn't grow. They just... are friends now?
So the story is meh. Saying "you've seen it before" doesn't do the series justice, but you have, and this one doesn't stand out at all. The art is all right, but frequently uncomfortable to watch. The characters at best are pretty boring with payoffs that largely aren't worth the wait. The cutesy 'humor' is bad. I would honestly rate this lower if it didn't have Emi's ultimate character development or it hadn't animated Casshan and Friender so well.
If you like this, or you want this kind of story, watch "Cyborg 009 vs Devilman". That's got some old franchise heroes with modern animation that is far better than this. The story is meh but at least it looks nice, and "Cyborg 009" fans would be happy. Watch "Casshern Sins" if you want a well-animated, good, albeit depressing, Casshan story. watch "Tiger & Bunny" if you want superheroes but with some cheese, but done well, with heart and good plot and animation. Watch "Darker Than Black" or "Durarara!!" if you want modern day Japan with some superhero shenanigans and humor and a lot of character bonding and interaction. Watch "12 Kingdoms" if you want to see a female high schooler thrown into an impossible situation she definitely doesn't want to be in combined with some amazing character development, good animation, and really great story. Skip this.
Fans of Tatsunoko animes are rejoycing at this anime, done entirely in 3D CGI. Like many, I grew up in the Gatchaman era and in North America, we knew that show as Battle of the Planets. It was without a doubt, one of my favorite animes. For the other 3 animes, I have learned about them in video games. If you are nostalgic, Infini-T Force's goal was to bring all 4 animes together with some of the elements that marked each one. I can say that the show focused a lot more on Ken from Gatchaman then the other 3,
but what do you expect, Gatchaman is the better anime. I just love the jokes they do at the beginning when Ken sees a smartphone, preferred the one with buttons and does not know how to use it because he is from the 60's/70's? Hahaha Ken is a silly/corky guy in the show, but they show us his more wise/serious side... which is really who he is deep inside... ...Curry! ;D
The BGM and OP/ED songs are awesome and fits with the scenes in question. You will cry at various points in the anime... They do scenes that touches your heart...
We only have 1 episode left to close off this series. But fear not as the full length movie with the same crew (and more...) is coming early in 2018. I cannot wait to see it!