Sep 22, 2019
1. What is this? 2. Who is this lumbering fool of a protagonist? 3. Is there an overall theme tying this show's episodes together? 4. What is the point of the broken flying airship? 5. What is the point of all this?
To answer these in order:
1. This is the show Eat-Man from 1997. Not the 1998 one.
2. Bolt Crank, greatest mercenary of all time in the world and universe ever.
3. Bolt Crank, greatest mercenary of all time in the world and universe ever.
With these questions answered, I basked in the horrendous, edgy, and hilarious glory of this show.
This show was a random encounter for a friend and I, and watching it would change our lives forever. Eat-Man, per my research, is not a direct adaptation of the manga. After viewing Eat-Man '98 and witnessing the sheer difference and sharp incline in quality, I can say Eat-Man is just as enjoyable, for all the opposite reasons to Eat-Man '98.
Something you need to know, I love shlock (ie. action, dialogue, whatever). I also hold no nostalgia for this show as this was my first viewing. When I state this, I mean it in terms of my perception: Eat-Man goes beyond shlock and becomes what I'd consider the ultimate "so bad that it is terrible, but also absolutely hilarious" anime I have seen thus far.
There isn't much. Just know this: each episode is different and the only linking chains between them are Bolt Crank, the episode's girl of the week, and the ruined airship L'avion (which is still afloat throughout the series). In fact, sans the final two episodes, there is nothing connecting the episodes at all. It doesn't even feel like the same universe, or even the same show half the time until we see our hero, Bolt Crank, standing and staring off into the distance, waiting for the plot to happen to someone else, so they can bring him in and have him intervene in a minor way. Bolt Crank exists just because the plot needs him to do something each episode, whether it makes narrative sense or not.
Sometimes, the plots of each episode can seem intriguing, but sometimes they are dealt with so lazily or so unexpectedly it just seems so ridiculous. There were moments I looked over to my friend in stunned disbelief that the plot was unfolding in such a way, with Bolt Crank being made to appear badass but arguably comes off as incompetent or non-sensical. Absolute comedy gold.
The writing is laughable and lacks any context to the world or motivations. Episode 6, in particular, is so lazy writing wise and is without any real indication or attempt to construct a plot that makes sense, and reusing a 4 minute asset twice to pad out the length...it is lazy, but it is also very remarkable at how baffled I was watching it. Any questions you have about the world will go unanswered. Any questions you have about plot relevance will go unanswered. This is Eat-Man, damn it. Enjoy the half-baked symbolism.
I did find it funny, to be honest, that this came before Trigun. At least it doesn't seem like a ripoff.
Bog standard. Very dark, very 90's feel to the art, what they show of it anyway. The animation lacks fluidity, wirh extreme closeups and odd editing ruining any sense of gravitas (but they sure do make me laugh). There is some visual flair here or there, but overall the animation is serviceable at best and underutilized at worst. The character design for most denizens of this world are relatively generic sans Bolt Crank, who dons a large totally badass trench coat and super cool red sunglasses (that remind me of The Professional) and a strange haircut that doesn't make sense the more I look at it. In fact, the reason you recognize Bolt so much is his design; the man looks like a giant box with his shoulders that fuckin' square.
One point of uniqueness for Eat-Man is that it does feature some pretty snappy music; the OP theme (while lyrically cheesy) does a good job to hype the viewer as well as the music heard throughout the show, mixing in ambient to rock to electronica to blues. It's not bad and I quite liked it when I heard it (unironically).
The aforementioned design of the character is merely one aspect of the enigma that is Bolt Crank. When he is not eating literal bolts or metal objects (hence the title of the show), Bolt walks the wasteland in search of fun and excitement...I mean, mercenary work...I mean, places to stand for a bit and stare off into the distance. His other gimmick aside from eating metal is the power to reform any material in his right hand. In this show, it really underutilizes this concept as Bolt will usually just form a gun in his hand.
Almost all other characters are there but forgettable. There is a female each episode that will often find solace and comfort in the Frankenstein's monster-esque Bolt Crank or somehow involve him into the proceedings. It feels forced, rushed, and not fleshed out for most ideas here, but the characters especially are.
It's clear they wanted to make a badass character out of Bolt...this would be achieved in Eat-Man '98. Here, Bolt Crank is about as badass as Neil Breen is in his films. Also; both play mercenaries walking in the desert searching for jobs and are extremely deadly badass killers...I hope a live action version of Eat-Man stars Neil Breen, he would kill it.
And here is why I feel I am a hipster; combine all I said from the previous sections. This show does so many things wrong but with such aplomb that I am amazed at how much I just wanted to see it through. Never is it boring. Never did I want to stop watching. Each strange choice and misstep just made the experience that much more fun. Enjoyed ironically it's a damn fantastic time, and unironically it's honestly such a baffling show with such a weird protagonist that I kind of love it.
Overall, I was going to leave this unrated but you have to rate it. I think it is simultaneously a 10 and a 1, constantly riding the line between awful and amazing. Perhaps Eat-Man is both amazingly awful yet also awfully amazing, and I'm not giving this show a 1 after being struck with laughter so hard it made me cry. Perhaps I'm overselling the potential hilarity there is here, as humor is subjective and this is not intended to be comedic, but the sheer amount of baffling ideas and choices alongside cheesy action shlock just make me laugh and filled with happiness. If you have that mentality, this is a great show to gawk at and make fun of.
If you want a quality show, check out Eat-Man '98 instead.
10/10 best new music also 1/10
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