Hiroshi Shiba is an outstanding car racer whose father is assassinated upon the discovery of the Bronze Bell from an ancient civilization. This Bronze Bell is coveted by Queen Himika who comes from that ancient era; the Yamatai Kingdom, and whose ambitions are to seize the Bell and dominate earth.
Hiroshi is left with a few items from his father which would enable him to morph into a full sized mecha warrior, the Steel Jeeg. With these abilities and the help of his father's brain implanted in a computer and his assistance Miwa "Micchi" Uzuki, they set out to neutralize Himika's plans of world dominion.
If your reading this and you have finished all 46 episodes of this show, i congratulate you for doing so. If you plan to watch/are currently watching, hopefully my review will convince you to watch/continue watching.
Going into Kotetsu jeeg I didn't have very high expectations, but after finishing it I can safely say that in some ways I was pleasantly suprised. Running in 1975 along with Grendizer, Jeeg is another entry into Go Nagai and toei's (going under the name dynamic productions) yearly lineup of super robot shows and i don't want to sound too presumptuous, but this might stand out as one
of the best of 70s super robots.
(WARNING,THERE IS SPOILERS FURTHER DOWN)
Kotetsu jeeg's story is about as basic as you can get for this type of show. An ancient evil race awakens from the ground to reclaim the surface of japan and rebuild what was once the Yamati (or jamati in the subs) kingdom. A professer who is the father of the protagonist Hiroshi Shiba, is assasinated by this while researching a defense mechanism to this invasion and his final gift to his son is a pair of gloves. These gloves give him the power of 'Kotetsu Jeeg' and with the the help of the Build Base crew and friends, Hiroshi vows to fight for justice and defeat Himika and her soldiers.
Jeeg follows the 'monster of the week' structure, with the stakes getting higher as the series progresses. There were a few twists along the way, playing out how pretty much how you'd expect. I was disapointed by how the 'Bell' subplot was handled, being the source of Hiroshi's power, they didn't really say what is was or how it works and why Himika really wanted it. Hiroshi's dream to be a top racer also seemed to be forgotten after some episodes and never brought up again, with him pretty much giving it up to save the world and protect his family.
Art and animation/Sound: 6
I think the artstyle is fine, the characters look like basically all the other toei 70s mecha shows, i will say i like the designs for Hiroshi and Uzuki the most. The villians especially queen Himika and her generals look pretty cool aswell. Jeeg's robot design is what I can only describe as a 'Diaper-wearing lemon', with Watermelon like arms and legs. Its pretty goofy but i do quite like it, his different forms feel quite tacked on and probably there just to sell toys, but i did like his drill form and patheroid even tho it looked quite ridiculous. The animation seems pretty standard for the time, with the stock footage for the Gattai/Combination scenes being the only possible stand out (which aren't really all that impressive in terms of animation, but i dig the magnet gimmick). I did feel during must of the fights Jeeg's head looked too big most of the time, however it is from the 70s so i didn't really dwell on it. Not much i can really comment on in terms of sound design, so ill say its Ok.
I'd say that i did enjoy most of the characters when they were on screen, but a part from Hiroshi Shiba, none of them were all that suprising or interesting. I think that Hiroshi was a really good main character, as he's first displayed as an tough, uncaring sort of cocky guy, but we see how the death of his Father really affects him throughout the series. Beyond the grave his father gives him several words of encouragement, turning him into a serious compassionate hero, who pushes the limit of his body and really becomes the new father of his family, as will defend his mother and little sister in harmsway. He also gets some pretty badass fight scenes.
The villians consisting of Queen himika and her generals, were pretty basic villians and didn't really say or do anything too note-worthy, i will say tho i did like Himika and her Voice, she did seemed very evil and i enjoyed whenever she was on screen, shame she was replaced by Satin in the second half
Don and Pancho were probably my 2nd and 3rd favourite characters, but i'd like to address some wasted potential. Don is first potrayed as Hiroshi racing rival, and during a race he'd often scheme to try and sabotage it in a goofy, comedic relief fashion with his dumb lacky Pancho. For some reason they also build a robot and try and compete with jeeg, even tho they lack reason to, as they don't and no one except for the build base crew and Hiroshi's mother, know that he's kotetsu jeeg. From there that's it, i suppose Don turns into a nicer guy in the end, but all him and pancho do is show up at a random mech fight and get blown up for comedy which gets really repetitive, and one more thing...THEY WEREN'T IN THE FINAL EPISODE, and Hiroshi's racing career and they're rivalry are never mentioned again, WASTED POTENTIAL.
Jeeg's music is very Catchy. I really like the opening, getting me pretty exicted to watch the show and the ending sounds pretty good too. I feel like the OP/ED are extended for a bit too long but its not too bad.
Desipte my issues with it, i did have a fun time with jeeg, with its goofy design, main protagonist and villian and catchy music being the best of the series in my opinion. Being relatively unknown to most anime fans except for Hardcore mecha junkies, i'd say its probably only worth checking out if you are super into the history of mecha and super robot anime, and i wouldn't blame you for dropping it or skipping some eps (believe me i felt like it). Not expecting too much but I hope the sequel 'Kotetsushin Jeeg' can aleast recon some of my problems.
Interestingly, i found that jeeg has somewhat of a cult following in italy, even inspiring a live action superhero film there called 'they call me jeeg', so i guess they must have really liked it back in the day.
Time traveler Go Nagai strikes for the fourth time. During his wondrous adventures in the future he found out how anime would start to focus a lot more on martial arts in the next years, as mecha shows would slowly start loosing ground to a new genre called fighting shounen. After he defeated the Daleks along with Dr. Who and played on a rock concert with Bill and Ted, he returned to his present back in the 70’s and immediately started his new most original show. In this series from the future (whose main idea was again never copied in the future) we have the
lead robot combining from a set of different parts, all made with magnets in their joints. The lead pilot is NOT using some aircraft which combines with other parts but his own body transforms to the actual head of the robot. The robot is also using martial arts a lot more than it uses special attacks so each battle looked a lot closer to a wresting match with huge robots and monsters. When in a pinch, it can separate in different parts and hurl them at the enemy, so in a way it looks like what that pirate clown named Buggy in One Piece is doing. And thus you get another show with a unique style of fighting, whose closest imitator was a comic relief pirate clown two decades later.
For some reason this series never came to my country, unlike all other classic mecha, so I got to watch it when I was well into the medium as an adult. Thus my impression is not as strong as it was with all others I grew up with but I will try to think like a kid while viewing this. Ok then, let’s analyze it main elements.
1) The lead robot design. Man, it is so weird. The head looks like a cobra, it has a yellow chest with stripes, its limbs look like oversized gloves and boots. Also, as original as it is to have magnets instead of mechanical joints, it still feels rather silly. Jeeg looks like an ugly toy while Mazinger or Getta Robo felt a lot more menacing and heroic in the strict sense. Also, the lead hero transforming to a cyborg, which in turn transforms into an ugly head is not exactly an exciting thing to look forward to. Original but otherwise yuck.
2) The monster designs. They are also weird and ugly and I say that in a bad way. They look like stone wrestlers or gay-looking golems. Maybe less lame that those saucer-themed ones in Grendizer but still I don’t find them threatening or alien or ancient as they should be.
3) The wrestling battles. Those were indeed more interesting than the usual parade of special attacks, but they still don’t last that long before resorting to the same old laser beams. I even wondered why they didn’t fire the lasers right away instead of punching and kicking for ten minutes. Although they are supposed to weaken the enemy so he can’t duck the attack in time, I still never understood, how can a mountain-tall monster avoid an attack that has the speed of light? And anyways, it’s not like there haven’t been any previous martial arts in mecha shows; even the very first ones were wrestling with the enemy. It’s just that they tried a little bit more in this series without ever going to uncharted lands with the concept.
4) The story. It was bizarre. There is an ancient civilization of monsters that need a magical bell, which turns a human to a robot head. LOLWUT? It is also far less complicating and exciting than Grendizer and one would expect something more elaborate from a studio that keeps making slight variations of the same idea. And the hero is again one so there isn’t much interaction amongst major characters. Some bike races are cool but just don’t help to make him seem dramatic or more humane than (I am trying not to laugh while writing this name) Duke Freed. And anyway, how does a BIKER know how to use MARTIAL ARTS? This is mixing too many things without flavoring them nicely.
5) The main music theme. Man, it must be one of the longest ones in history to last 2 minutes. It has a nice rhythm too but the lyrics are hit-or miss. Words like “Bam barabara brara bam” sung by kids is not exactly cool.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 5/10
General Artwork 1/2 (generic)
Character Figures 0/2 (Fugly robots)
Backgrounds 1/2 (basic)
Animation 2/2 (the bike races and the martial arts make it look very good for its time)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (nice songs)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 7/10
Historical Value 2/3 (not that famous like the previous Go Nagai mecha)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too much episodic plot and overblown drama)
Memorability 4/4 (I can’t forget those stone wrestler designs or the magnetic joints)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 2/10
Although I like Nagai for his originality and secret time travel powers, I find this show to be the least interesting after Grendizer of his works. I appreciate his attempt at making a martial arts show with robots but that does not mean that he created an entertaining series. Just a special one. It is also not exactly evolving the formula any further but just slowly messes with it.