Apr 13, 2016
Eingya (All reviews)
The Big O is a noire with mechas... sort of.

Set in a post-apocalyptic sci-fi city in which all humans have lost all memories in an unknown event happened 40 years prior, The Big O throws a huge amount of concepts at the wall in its exploration of its main themes of memories and "what makes a person's being and goals".

The series goes from deconstructing old school mecha tropes to moody noire monologues, passing from vague otherworld lovecraftian concepts, religious references and much more. While not all those idea may work, they are always delivered with a confidence and savvy aesthetical means (although the slicker animation found in the second season is far less fascinating than the rougher one of the first season) that if nothing else, makes most episodes entertaining and moody-ly hypnotic.

What I find extremely interesting about how Big O’s plots develops, is that, while initially the series seems to be subverting the hopelessness typical of film noire (by literally punching it in the face the with mechas at the end of every episode), by the end even that subversion get turned on its head. As the plot progresses theatrical imagery becomes more and more prevalent; masks under masks get pulled as the series' melodrama gets nihilistically revealed as a self serving play in a series of never-ending existential twist that may bring to mind the storytellers like Grant Morrison (although the end result reads as a lot more pessimistic than anything Morrison ever wrote).

There is truly a lot cramped in the 26 episodes of Big O, but this lot does not always comes as tonally coherent and more often than not is undermined by the obligatory monster-of-the-week mecha fight (especially in the first season)... but you know what... I very much enjoy Big O anyway despite those flaws.

What truly makes the series work is that, despite what it is saying is not always being particularly smart, how it says it is often immensely so. Big O uses the filmic medium perfectly, its imagery is always on point, not only to reflect its themes, but also to fascinate the viewer, pulling them deeper and deeper into the show's spiral of existential questions and kafkian mysteries.

Not all episodes work, but if taken in its entirety Big O is pretty damn good. Obviously one has to have a tolerance for pseudo-phylosophical blabbering and a very slow-burn exploration of its themes, but when one can accept that stuff he'll find in Big O an emotional, media-savvy and extremely personal series to explore.