In the city of Judoh, Claire Leonelli has inherited leadership of the Mafia group "Vampire" following the death of his father. To keep Claire's and other criminal activities in check, the city's Bureau of Urban Safety has Special Services Division operative Daisuke Aurora and the super android codenamed "J" (whose identity is apparently kept in secrecy, as androids are banned in the city). With both of them around, crime now has little room to breathe in Judoh.
If you ever gain the slightest bit of interest to watch this show, WATCH IT. I was skeptical at first, due to the subpar-looking character designs, wonky name, and typical sounding synopsis. However, it only took about 10 minutes of the first episode to completely hook me on the series. The show completely blew all my expectations out of the water.
The art is great. You might be skeptical at first, but the style flows very nicely in the show. The character designs are from the same person behind Escaflowne. There are some very well-animated scenes throughout the show, and
never do you see signs of lazy animation throughout. There is also some well integrated CG, that remains exclusive to more complex buildings and vehicles.
The sound was good. Nothing spectacular, but certainly not bad. Some of the songs may seem tacky at first, but the show reuses them in all of the right situations, to tie feelings into newer scenes, and you'll like the soundtrack more by the end of the show than you did in the beginning.
The story is fantastic. It starts out relatively small, as explained in the synopsis, but continually grows to be greater than you'd expect.
The characters are what make this series shine, however. Daisuke Aurora has easily weaseled his way into my top 5 protagonists. He creates fantastic relationships with many unlikely characters throughout the show. Deep themes of friendship and seeing the good in people are present throughout the entire series, right down to the epic conclusion, and those themes are what will leave a lasting impact on you after completing this series.
I highly recommend this to anyone with a slight interest. The show reminds me a bit of Gungrave and Cowboy Bebop, as it involves a large, rather corrupt city, with some amazing protagonists. Give the show a chance, and I guarantee you'll be hooked with the first episode. If not, well, this probably wasn't your cup of tea to begin with.
Heat Guy J is one of the most excellent series I've had the pleasure of viewing and exceeded my expectations based on the reviews I've seen. It's basically in the detective/action genre that's set in the future, in a unique environment where cities are divided and dependent on a race of people that provide the technology for air and water, and there are also people living outside of this city in the underground and in the forests avoiding the people in the main city. The main character is a detective of sorts who's partner is a robot "J" that assists him in his quests.
The episodes are rarely repetitive and we watch as the main character collects friends throughout the series that offer him assistance in his many endeavors. There is also some nice plot twisting and well integrated CGI that didn't become bothersome. All this is highly impressive, especially for an anime you can find in the bargain bin at your local con. Highly recommended.
Heat Guy J is an anime created by director Akane Kazuki. It was one of Satelight Studio's early productions. This will be their second anime I look at. The first being Sousei no Aquarion, an entirely bland offering. Will this one be any better? Let's take a look and find out.
In the future, mankind is living largely confined to large cities not because of man eating giants but because their electric and water purification grids only function in certain areas and there's only a small group that still understands how the technology works. In the city of Judoh, Daisuke Aurora works for the city's special
services division to prevent crimes along with his android partner, J. Most episodes deal with Daisuke and J solving cases. There is an underlying story arc about Daisuke looking for his father's murderer, but I can't go into too much detail about that without spoiling part of the series. Especially since most of the stuff that actually comes from that happens near the end.
Let's start by looking at what the story does badly. The first thing is the pacing. They keep going back to the underlying plot but they don't really go anywhere with it besides reminding you it exists until the last three episodes. At which point everything just gets thrown at you and there's a rushed, hastily resolved climax. The episodes and cases also vary in quality quite a bit, some are pretty good but on the opposite end you have the stuff with the Siberbians, a group of people who are painfully stupid to watch. They don't believe in technology, except for the stuff they actually use because going without entirely would just be so darn inconvenient. They also believe strongly in the ideal that every adult should be fully independent, except that they have a society with laws, enforcement of said laws by members of the village who work together and a leader. They also subscribe to other ill-conceived, irrational and inane religious/philosophical ideas. There are only two episodes with these clods and they are terrible. You also get some clunky exposition dialogue and forced events that happen solely because the plot needed them to.
So, what does the series do well? Quit a bit, actually. A lot of the concepts at play are kind of interesting and fairly unique. Most of the cases are decent enough with some good moments and tension. There's a lot of potential in the world itself and it is somewhat well taken advantage of. The series also does a good job of introducing most of the important plot elements that are going to eventually come into play for the climax well in advance and in a subtle way. You never know what previous events that seemed like just parts of a single case are going to come back as an important point until right near the end and when they do get brought up it makes sense given the context.
The best way to describe the characters in this series is that they're close to kind of standard archetypes with maybe one or two things to differentiate them from the usual character types they're playing off of. There are exceptions, a lot of the one shot and side characters just are their tropes, and there are a few characters like Boma or Daisuke himself who are more interesting, but in general that's what you can expect. A certain character type with a few additions. They aren't badly done, mostly, just don't expect anything too good from them. This isn't at Stand Alone Complex's level.
The art style is pretty unique but it doesn't look bad by any means. The characters look pretty good and the action sequences are nicely done, mostly and the futuristic tech you see is visually interesting. If there's any problem with the art it's that the backgrounds tend to be pretty basic. They don't look bad, but they do look like not a lot of effort went into them.
The performances are decent enough, although most of them aren't anything great. The actors do their jobs competently although you do get some exaggerated lines and some that are a little wooden. However, those lines that are a bit wooden come from Sugou Takayuki who's voicing J and they give the character an inhuman quality that works given that he is an android. There is one really strong performance and it comes from Sakurai Takahiro, the same actor who voiced Cloud Strife and Megaman X. The music is pretty standard. It's simple and functional.
This series has a little bit. The dynamic between Vampire and Daisuke comes across as fueled by sexual tension at a few points. Kyoko also takes another girl home with her at one point although that one is less homo-erotic and more that the plot needed it to happen. So, the ho-yay factor is a 2.5/10. There's a little, but it goes nowhere.
Heat Guy J is a sci-fi series with some interesting elements, nicely done action and good episodes. It also has some really bad episodes and a lot of general story issues. If you're a fan of sci-fi police stories you'll probably enjoy it. For myself, it's a 6/10. It's decent enough for what it is, but there are a lot of better works out there and it's merely okay in most respects. Check it out if you're a fan of the genre. That's the end of 2014. Next week we'll be entering January and that means Studio Ghibli Yuri anime starring Hayashibara Megumi. Well, not really. As awesome as it would be to be able to combine all the various themes I've had in January, and as amazing as that anime would almost certainly be, I don't think it actually exists. So, it's going to be magical girl month. It was NanoFated to happen eventually. Until then, have a happy new year everybody.
It is always satisfying to see a show with a lackluster start end on a strong note. Such is the case with Heat Guy J, a show that at first wallows in tired buddy cop hijinks, but ultimately proves to be a worthy watch in the long run.
The story follows Daisuke, a young smart-mouth cop and member of Judoh City's Special Services Bureau, and his android partner, J. Together they work to prevent crimes from happening in Judoh, under the supervision of Daisuke's older brother Shun. Daisuke and J have their hands full as the streets of Judoh are crawling with crime, from terrorists to
organized crime syndicates. On top of that they have to deal with a rising, ambitious, and disturbed crime lord, Clair Leonelli. Much of the first half of the show is mostly standalone episodes of Daisuke and J busting down on baddies. These episodes range from being very good to very mediocre, with the cases involving Clair Leonelli being the best; and ones not involving him leaning more on the sour side. This is the big problem with the first half of the show, for every good episode there is an extremely underwhelming one; with a cliche, old, tired plot. Even some of the better episodes are just 'okay'. Honestly, watching through much of the first half feels like a bit of a chore. Luckily, there is some world building and character development in these episodes which really does payoff later in the long run; it is just that the episodic scenarios surrounding said development are washed up and stale.
The show picks up in episodes 11 and 12, which reveal more of the workings of the world of Heat Guy J. The existence of the Celestials and the way they keep order in the world is thought provoking in on its own, and easily one of the more fascinating aspects of the show. It was also fun to watch Clair wreck havoc and almost destroy the entire city of Judoh, and solidify his rivalry with Daisuke. The quality of the episodes after 11 and 12 was a big improvement over the first half. From an assassination attempt on Daisuke's brother Shun, to Clair's attempt of revenge on Daisuke in the fallout of events of episode 12, the scenarios of each episode where more engaging and exciting that those of the first half. Characters that saw minimal development before, got their fair share in these episodes; most notably the Special Services Bureau's secretary, Kyoko, and the wolf-headed hybrid Boma.
All the while, even deeper darker secrets of Judoh are slowly unraveled, leading to a twist late in the show (which you may or may not see coming) that makes the show's final arc its most gripping and touching; ending on a strong note. Even still, the cliches of the first half are still very much present, and bog down the shows quality at times because of how conventional it feels.
As far as the characters go, Heat Guy J has a pretty decent cast. The titular character J is a pretty cool android. It is a feat to make a character who is inhuman yet has personality, but J pulls it off quite well. To be fair, J does display human-like attributes, but that largely feels due to his programming, which it is. There are times, however, J does come across as a bit too human; enough so that some viewers will have to take this with a grain of salt, especially since themes of what make up a sentient being are not present at all in the show. Where J is stern and (obviously) kind of robotic, Daisuke is laid-back and likes to take things in stride. This makes his chemistry with J pretty fun to watch, albeit also pretty conventional. At times it feels like the writers were trying too hard in making him cool and carefree, but the character does have enough personality to prevent him from being just another 'cool guy' type character. Clair is by far one of the most fun characters in the show despite being cartoonishly despicable much of the time, kind of like Joker from the 90's Batman animated series, but with daddy issues. The rest of the cast all have their time in the light and are all likeable, but very much part of an ensemble; which ultimately caps their development.
Heat Guy J is pretty solid on the technical side of things. Character designs are diverse, with Daisuke, Kyoko and Clair being more slender than the gruffer guys in the cast like J and Giovanni. Characters are colorful but thankfully not outlandish. The city of Judoh is quite a site; beautiful metropolitan streets juxtaposition with broken down slums and dangerous alleys, the city feels like a character itself at times. The look of the show is not particularly innovative, in fact it looks like many sci-fi thrillers, but overall it still nice. The music is also good, particularly during the action scenes, and a few other interesting music choices. However, it isn't fantastic, and at times it feels like certain themes are overused.
Overall, Heat Guy J is a solid sci-fi police show. It has a rough start, and can often be bogged down by cliches. However, it picks up very nicely as it continues, and shines at the end. With a likeable cast of characters and a few good twists, Heat Guy J succeeds despite having some big stumbles here and there.