In the year 2111, the solar system has been colonized. The colonized moons and planets are lawless and the police are helpless. In order to battle the evil within the solar system, Isaac Godonov creates J9, made up of himself, Blaster Kid, Stephen Bowie, and Angel Omachi. They are a team that will handle any missions the police will not with their robot Braiger... for a price. Meanwhile, the Nubia section of Earth has a plan to destroy Jupiter to create 30 more planets for human colonization. But this plan will result in the destruction of Earth.
It seems like someone should finally write a review for this hidden gem of an anime. I don't exactly remember how I came about finding it or even who recommended it to me but I was extremely glad to have sat through it. During my initial viewing, the entire series was not subbed in English, only up to 37 or 36 I believe, the last couple of episodes being a multi part finale to bring it all together. I had to watch the final episodes in Portuguese, a language I know not a single word of, but this didn't hamper my viewing experience. I highly
suggest those who speak Portuguese try to find the Portuguese dub as both the ending and opening are entirely different songs that are just as good as the original Japanese versions. I could only vaguely understand what was going on during the finale but even with only a vague understanding I still loved my journey up until the point. Fast forward years later and the last couple of episodes are finally subbed. My love for it never changed and my misunderstandings were cleared up. But enough of this preamble, onto the actual review!
While I tend to be pretty lenient on anime stories of this time period, Braiger still surpassed my expectations. Don't go in expecting any masterpiece of storytelling or that equal to those of a literary great because you most certainly won't get that. What you will get is an episodic story for a majority of the series until it eventually gets into a much tightly focused story about stopping a space madman. I tend to have issues with episodic animes in general as they either work really well or just entirely fail. What works for one genre doesn't exactly work for another, but Braiger is able to pull it off without ever making the viewer feel bored. It is your typical "monster of the week" affair where the titular mech always make an appearance by the end of the episode to save the day. Where it shines though is that everyone of the main characters gets their own episode, by which I mean we get a deeper insight into why they are the way they are as well as their weaknesses and history. This honestly saves the story from getting boring as even the smallest amount of depth leads to a more fleshed out world. In essence J9 are just a bunch of mercenaries for hire who help people from all walks of life solve problems. Their price isn't cheap but they do help those that are in dire need of help for either financial or even personal reasons. Nothing inherently groundbreaking but it makes for interesting stories and situations.
Not much to talk about here as the art is what you would expect of the time period, though I do not remember seeing any egregiously awful frames or perspective issues so it gets a high praise for me. If you like this era of art then you will love it, if you like more newer/recent anime then it probably won't be your cup of tea though it shouldn't look too awful in comparison.
The soundtrack has no reason to be as good as it is! It is just pure 80's music through and through and it is not ashamed to show it. It touches upon the popular genres of the time, so if you are a fan of such a decade you will feel right at home. Both the Opening and Ending themes are undeniably catchy and after a few episodes you will be singing right along, the final ending is my favorite though. The music always feels appropriate and fun, but also campy enough to remind you of how silly it is at times.
Despite me loving the entire cast and every re-occurring character in the show, they aren't inherently anything special. If you have watched more recent anime they fit pretty well into cliches such as "cold and aloof" type, "attractive and promiscuous" type and of course the staple "cuteness for the sake of cuteness" type. But that doesn't mean they don't occasionally break the mold and act out of their element. While not very often, the colorful cast of characters show their diversity in decision making and reactions. Personally, design wise everyone is pretty memorable but by the end of the show I doubt any of them will make your "Favorite anime characters of all time" list. Braiger itself even has a bit of a personality if you keep a close enough eye out.
It is just a fun anime, plain and simple. It is a fun filled adventure from episode 1 all the way to episode 39. The show itself also isn't afraid to get a bit more mature at times which definitely surprised me at times. Another aspect of the show I enjoyed is how it explained the "Super Robot" qualities of Braiger itself, bringing a bit of science into it and how it is able to transform across three different forms. I cannot say how accurate it is but it definitely feels believable enough that you could see it happening. It also doesn't feel condescending when offering an explanation for things, respecting the viewers intelligence, which is always nice.
A must watch for mecha fans, by all means it is a wonderfully done series that seems to have flew under everyone's radar. If you are a fan of older anime I also give it a strong recommendation, though your enjoyment may vary depending on your tastes. For newer and more recent fans of anime I cannot recommend it very much but at least check out the Opening and Ending, they are great pieces of music. ABAYO!