Fourteen-year-old Kouichi Hayase’s life has always been a mediocre one, if not dismal. However, those days of being bullied by classmates and escaping to a fantasy of being a hero are put to an end when a certain “accident” bestows on him a girl and a gigantic humanoid robot called “LINEBARREL”. The extraordinary power that Kouichi obtains puts him and everything around him on a sudden rollercoaster ride of battles, intrigues and friendship! During the course of his adventure, the boy starts to learn what life has to offer; he meets new friends, bids farewell to the old ones, but most of all he now has considerable responsibilities and is forced to confront the world around him.
"An anime whose overall excitement level can be mathematically modeled by the Gaussian distribution function."
As with many other GONZO production, Kurogane no Linebarrels is loosely based on its manga original. Readers from the manga will find the anime not exactly following the story and in some cases the anime is loaded with fan servicing fillers. Please note that this review will judge Kurogane no Linebarrels solely as seen from the anime perspective.
GONZO started the series with a very rare approach, to bastardize the main protagonist (aka Hayase). Countless people turned away from the show after the first few episodes simply because of how much everyone
hated Hayase. I strongly advise viewer to not get irritated by the early episodes and push forward as the show will get infinitely better starting around episode 4. In fact, the Gaussian distribution curve is a very fitting description for this anime. Average beginning, average ending. I had very high hope in this show around the midway point but sadly the intensity did not carry over to the end. As a long time mecha anime fan (with particular interest in super robots), I find the concept to the story (more on that below) fairly “fresh” thus I was hoping for some serious story development. Unfortunately I set my expectations too high.
The basic concept of the story was actually quite interesting. A teenage boy trying to be the "hero of justice" by piloting a mecha (known as Linebarrel) from another dimension. Viewers were informed in the beginning of the story that a universe/dimension exist in parallel to our own. While that dimension obviously differs from ours in virtually everything, we do share some common ground. The background theory of how the alternate dimension may be formed after the Big Bang was briefly discussed along the way. The story then proceeds to talk about the typical terrorist-taking-over-the-world stuff, leading to some heart-breaking betrayal and thus the climax to the story.
"WARNING, weird looking characters alert! This is not a false alarm. I repeat, this is not a false alarm!" Don't know if Hisashi Hirai (the character designer for Heroic Age, Infinite Ryvius, Mobile Suit Gundam Seed/Destiny, and Soukyuu no Fafner) hit his head or what, but I had a higher expectation from him. The faces of the main characters look like they have been put on TV from a sketch book! They look perfectly fine in magazines or any galleries you may come across, they are just horrible in the animation.
Many viewers also complained about the CG battle animations, especially the first few battles in the series. While personally I have nothing against CG animations (I am actually glad to see something different for a change once a while), this also seem to be another fatal blow to Kurogane no Linebarrels. But with all that being said, the actual animation quality and scene to scene transitions are acceptable. So hopefully viewers can eventually get accustomed to the weird looking faces and CG battles and be able to enjoy the anime.
Perhaps one of the obstacles the viewers have to get accustoms to is the OP by ALI PROJECT. Frankly, after learning that ALI PROJECT is responsible for the OP I decided to skip the OP whenever possible. However, the two ending themes by Maaya Sakamoto are worth your time (hell and heaven when compared to the OP).
If you are familiar with seiyu (as most otaku do), you may want some info as to who is the CV for who. Yuichi Nakamura (Tomoya in Clannad, Alto in Macross Frontier) is voicing Moritsugu which I find very different from his past roles. Hayase is voiced by Tetsuya Kakihara (Simon in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann). The lovely Kizaki is voiced by the also lovely Mamiko Noto (Kotomi in Clannad, Hecate in Shakugan no Shana). There are many other award winning BIG names including Jun Fukuyama, Rie Kugimiya, Aya Hirano, and many many more.
The most noticeable character development without a doubt is Hayase's view of the "hero of justice". He matured overtime seeing how real world battles are fought and what he truly needs to protect and fight against (a very big change from the little punk he started out acting as). Unfortunately, after he “upgraded” his view of the justice system midway through the series, we see little to no change in his character thereafter. A lot of viewers have probably forgotten Yajima half way through the show, but his impression on me was extremely important and he played an irreplaceable role throughout the first half of the anime. Many mysteries were answered slowly overtime concerning certain characters’ past and why he/she end up being who they are in the show. Among many other things, Kizaki’s lost memory, and Ishigami’s past with Katou were the most interesting. Character relationship-wise, Kurogane no Linebarrels could have done some more work for the supporting casts. Many characters left hanging at the end with no satisfactory conclusion. Taken as a whole, the character department is definitely one of the weaker areas of the anime.
While I agree there were many changes to the manga, it did not bother me much throughout the course of the show. After all, this show is about parallel dimensions, so why don’t we just treat the events in the anime and in the manga separately (perhaps treat them as they are in two different universes?). Lastly, I have to point out that GONZO must have enjoyed producing Strike Witches a lot. The production crews end up incorporating quite a bit of fan service in a mecha series and that could be disturbing to some viewers.
Alright, this anime finished recently, and I have to say I actually was anticipating for the last episode.
In brief I'll just say, I was on the verge of rage-quitting this anime after the first 3 episodes - and if it wasn't because I started late (so that I didn't have to wait in between weeks) I probably would have dropped this anime.
This is why I gave character the lowest scores, because the main character really annoyed me at first.
But despite that, I pulled through and the anime really is good.
I'm not a Mecha-anime fan, other than Full Metal Panic! I normally don't watch Mecha-anime (I
haven't seen one episode of Gundam before). So despite that, it really was good and kept me looking forward to each week.
Although it's not GONZO's best work, the story was well done, and the art was brilliant - especially on High Resolution!
Loved the use of the music in key points.
So overall, it's definitely something to watch I reckon :)
Need a demonstration of the power a main character wields over a series? Watch Linebarrels. Kouichi is a vicious, self-absorbed prick with delusions of grandeur and nary a whit of empathy, and his very presence makes the first four episodes of the series nearly unwatchable. There is a train-wreck fascination to watching a series with such an utterly vile lead, and there's no denying that the poisoning of Kouichi's mind by constant humiliation and the consequent brutality of his reaction to empowerment ring a lot truer than happier takes on the same material do. But so repulsive is he that the series is intolerable so
long as he holds sway. Not even the show's knowledge of exactly when to kick him in the balls can change that.
Only when Kouichi himself changes, thanks to a vicious little plot twist, does the series get sufferable. Unfortunately it also loses its spine, giving itself over completely to soggy harem comedy and unelaborated us vs. them warfare. Excruciating as they were, the episodes where Kouichi rampaged his hateful way across the screen had ambition and a sort of unpleasant magnetism. With Kouichi sanitized, the series becomes nothing more than another fan-service-laden save-the-Earth mecha bore. It gains a sense of humor, albeit one dependent on tentacle monsters and "oops I saw *insert name here* naked" snafus, and dabbles amusingly in romance, but it's still a snoozeful letdown. Not that the show had much in the way of options. The choice between a series that's an object lesson in the need for a sympathetic lead and a series made flaccid by an ambition vacuum is truly a rock-and-hard-place kind of choice. And even if you wish the series had chosen the rock, if only because it has character, you can't really blame it for settling on the hard place.
If relative effort is anything to go by, Linebarrels' animators weren't enamored of either option. Hisashi Hirai's typically precise character designs are sloppy and poorly differentiated throughout, Gonzo's 2D animation is even more careless than usual, breasts balloon and shrink, faces fluctuate drunkenly, and after episode one action sequences are slapped together with little concern for comprehensibility. After a small post-debut dip Gonzo's trademark 3D mecha remain consistently sharp and fluid (if not particularly pretty) and the exploding stuff is sufficiently neat, as are the urban settings, but that's as far as the animators' enthusiasm goes, regardless of which stage—boring or painful—the series is in.
Musically it fares little better, though its auditory woes owe more to messy eclecticism than to a lack of artistic engagement. Some musical snippets are good (generally when Kouichi is thumping something) but many are bad, layering on dopey 50s sci-fi noodling, ill-considered techno, and ascending strings that are intended to communicate mecha coolness but sound instead like musical escapees from a Murder She Wrote climax. The opening by the Ali Project, like everything in their unique oeuvre, grows on you, and Maaya Sakamoto's closer is so easy on the ears that it may go right through them without imprinting the gray matter in between.
Through a combination of scenes mildly mussed in translation and Josh Grelle's well-meaning rounding of Kouichi's more abrasive edges, Funimation's dub manages to soften the opening episodes, bringing them more in line with the duller, easier to swallow later ones. Lost in translation is the passive-aggressive disdain in Kouichi's exchanges with Yajima, along with much of his self-satisfied grandiosity and self-pitying petulance. Which makes his rampages much easier to watch, but also throws the tone of the opening act slightly off and weakens the contrast between pre- and post-episode-four Kouichi. Other characters have similar shifts in personality, but being non-essential have less impact on the series. The comic episodes for their part are played fast and loose (just the way I like 'em) and Barry Yandell's boisterous take on Kouichi's unhinged boss is great fun, but the dub still leaves less of an impression than the original—Grelle's excellent wigging out notwithstanding.
Amidst the usual extras detritus (clean OP/ED, trailers, promos) is a commentary track for episode six featuring ADR Director Caitlin Glass, Grelle, and Alexis Tipton (Emi), all of whom get along boisterously well. Fun and info abound, though some will bristle at the comparison of Linebarrels to the infinitely superior Godannar. (Grr).
Messy, ugly and mercurial, the potential for sudden change is never far from Linebarrels' surface. In a series that is only interesting when it is impossibly unpleasant, that potential is one of the few things to inspire hope. Hope that the next corner it whips around leads to greener, or at least less painful and more challenging, pastures; and hope that we'll be able to hold on until they're reached.
Story: Well this whole show was one cliche after the next and most of it early on from the fillers to the stupid humor done by the president who never took anything seriously made it tough to watch this show early on, the story had some plot twists but they were decent and the last and final twist at the end just made me chuckle and go why did they even have to do that it didnt make a whole lot of sense, the ending though was decent and probably the best part of the story, give it a 6.
Art: My one pet peeve when
it comes to anime has to be CG and for whatever reason gonzo is pretty well fixed on having it in most of there series and it was plentiful in here considering all the machina were done that way and it grows on you after awhile and you get use to it but in the begining it looked awful trying to do fast paced action with CG just didnt look right, give it a 6.
Sound: Eh average at best the opening theme and ending theme were decent nothing that would make you want to go out and by the soundtrack to the show, the in show music didnt change much using the opening themes beat most of the time, give it a 5.
Character: This was another downfall with the series i never cared to much about the main characters they all played there typical roles that again made it cliche, hayase himself was the biggest problem with this show for being the main character he was pretty boring at the begining i did like him as we went crazy with having power but after he became the cliched hero it went down hill from there, i gave it a 4.
Enjoyment: Out of the 24 episodes i would say there were about 4 or 5 good episodes the other ones were pretty dull, hard to enjoy a show that played off of every other mecha series out there, the ending was the best even though it is kind of predictable i still rather enjoyed it, i gave it a 6.
Overall: This show i thought was always on the edge of being good but it never was able to get over that hump, mainly for cliches horrible humor and characters i didnt really care for it just stays right at the decent level it is something people can get through but i wouldnt suggest it with the other well done mecha series out there i gave it a 6.