Dec 11, 2009
Back in the early 90s anime was undergoing a transitional phase. One of the problems many studios faced was figuring out what would appeal to the new Western markets that had opened to the medium thanks to movies like Akira, Wings of Honneamise, Patlabor, etc. It was during this time that anime spawned some of it's stranger titles, one of which is KO Seiki Beast Sanjuushi (KO Century Beast Warriors).
The story is set the future, at a time when the Earth has been split in half. Humanity has fled to the Southern hemisphere, and the Northern world is now ruled by the Beast Tribes. However,
humanity is now attempting to reclaim the planet in an attempt to find the mysterious treasure known as Gaia. In order to facilitate this, Uranus (leader of humanity), sends V-Dan and V-Zhon, along with their sidekick Akumako, to capture the heirs of three of the main Beast Tribes - Tgier, Mermaid and Bird. Enter then, Wan Dabada, Mei Mei and Badd Mint, three of the strangest (and in the case of Wan and Badd, dumbest), prisoners/hostages in anime.
Now, some of you will have noticed that the names I'm using are different from those on MAL, Wiki, etc. Well there's a good reason for this. The names are taken from the original AnimeUK release of the OVA. The names were changed slightly in the US release some time later. Of the two versions though, the UK release is by far the funnier, for a number of reasons.
One of the reasons why this is a very strange anime is because the show can't make up it's mind. The OVA begins as a straightforward combat comedy, however it then heads off down a mecha route, with added touches of mysticism, science fiction, and fantasy. In all honesty, while the story isn't particularly bad, the lack of any coherent plot direction means that the reasons for events and actions sometimes gets confusing.
But that's only if you're taking this show seriously.
KO Seiki Beast Sanjuushi is, above all else, a comedy show, and it provides that in abundance (especially the AnimeUK release with it's dodgy accents). The puns and visual gags are quick and punchy, and while the comedy is a little dated in comparison to shows like Gintama, the OVA still has the capacity to make you giggle.
As far as looks go, this is a fairly well animated show, especially for it's time. The colours are bright and bold, and while the character designs are a little on the spikey haired side, they're not as bad as some I could mention. The characters move well for the most part, however the animation does suffer from little oddities in a number of places, in particular during the hand to hand action sequences (surprisingly enough, the mech action sequences are pretty decent).
The music for the OVA matches the visuals fairly well, however the tendency to switch from happy-boppy to overly dramatic can cause some confusion, especially when it happens before any dramatic event. The OP is a bit confusing because there's two to choose from. The revamped US version features a heavy rock track called B-O-M-B-E-R, which isn't a bad song, but I actually prefer the original, annoyingly catchy J-Pop theme tune that began "Wandabadabadabdatta, Wandabadabadabadabadatta datta". The original track is so annoying in fact, that you'll find yourself humming it decades later, even if you've only heard it once.
As for the voice acting, oh my, where do I begin. The revamped US version of the series is nowhere near as funny as the original AnimeUK release, and while the UK version only covered three episodes, they were a damn sight funnier because of the voice acting than the later version. That's not to say the voice actors were good though, as the acting is fairly mediocre in either release (I have, sadly, yet to find the Japanese version), however the UK release had one major advantage - accents.
Much like the notorious accents found in the original Catgirl Nuku Nuku OVA (which, ironically enough, also came out in 1992), KO Seiki Beast Sanjuushi featured a range of differing accents, from fake cockney (also known as mockney), to American, and a whole bunch in between. It's because of these accents that the original release had a charm that just wasn't present in the US re-vamp.
The characters are, on the whole, a bit hit and miss. The main three in the UK release, Wan, Mei Mei and Badd, are pretty fair as comedy leads, with V-Dan and V-Zhon being suitably evil and funny as well. Unfortunately, the US version loses a lot of what made the characters funny, especially as the emphasis in that version is not on comedy, but on action. Because of this the characters, who are underdeveloped anyway, go from being decent comedy roles to mediocre action heroes/villains. The characterisations simply aren't strong enough to support this shift in perspective, so the viewer is left with relatively hollow characters that, while not being bad, will never be good either.
To be completely honest, I prefer the original AnimeUK release to the American remake. The UK version has a charm about it that is missing from the later version in particular because a lot more thought was put into the dialogue, but one can't ignore the impact of those accents.
That said, there will be many people who may not ever get to see the UK version, as it is a rarity in anime these days. The US version, being easier to get hold of, isn't a bad show on the whole, and I will admit to a degree of bias in my preference for the UK release, however the flaws are more obvious in the US version because of the emphasis on action.
This, like most anime, won't appeal to everyone, although comedy enthusiasts and fans of mecha may enjoy it. It may also appeal to people who just want something odd and funny to watch, although there are some better choices these days.
Given that there's more comedic diversity in anime now though, imagine what it was like trying to find funny anime in 1992.
What did you think of this review?