Tetsujin 28 is a series that has roots all the way back into the 1950s if you can believe it or not. It was originally a manga by Mitsuteru Yokoyama that was published in 1958 and later made into an anime series in the 1960s. Since then Tetsujin has been glorified as Gigantor across the world and many incarnations have been resurrected from time to time since its original inception. The newest reprisal is obviously 2004's version being published by Geneon which actually marks the fifth animated series to date.
The show does many things to compare itself to the original concept, but there are obviously some liberties that have been taken. For starters you will notice right away that the series carries an art style that is not too dissimilar from designs of the time period. Characters lack detail that is found in much of today's more complex anime and the look is most noticeable with character faces and expressions. The time period that the show is set in is the 1940s where Japan struggling in the war and science fiction has gone awry. If you're coming to Tetsujin 28, you are no doubt expecting a 1950s-like sci-fi show and in that regard you won't be disappointed.
The main focus of the show centers on a young boy named Shotaro Kaneda who happens to be a sharp as nails detective. Of course you probably wouldn't have a sci-fi related show if that was the only attraction to the series. There is another character that is paired up with the lad, but he comes in the form of a Tetsujin model and is a hulking metal monstrosity. The history behind the start of all of this comes from Shotaro's father who was also a professor on the Tetsujin project. He had feared that he lost his wife and son during the war and locked himself and the monster away, never to bother the world again. Of course things never work out quite like they are planned and ten years after his death a missile bearing the beast is launched towards Japan and literally lands on Shotaro's lap.
The five episodes included on the first volume are: The Resurrection of Shotaro, No. 28 vs. No. 27, The Arrival of Monster Robot, The Other Tetsujin Project, and Tetsujin vs. Black Ox.
The first episode is basically the origin of Shotaro as well as an introduction to the Tetsujin concept and time era. It shows how Shotaro met the mechanical monster and really fleshes out the back story a great deal. Transitioning from that fateful moment into the young boy putting his hands on the beast's remote control for the first time is handled perfectly. From this point we journey with the characters through one monstrous mystery after another as several strange things keep happening. Of course all of these things coincide with the resurrection of the number 28 Tetsujin.
The stories progress smoothly and none of these episodes really feel like they are stand alone in nature. The plot improves with every episode and each time around a little bit more is added to the show to increase its watchability. My only beef with the series at this point is that it's a little too cliché. I suppose that would be too hard to avoid considering that the show has roots dating back nearly fifty years ago. But I mean you have a boy detective who all of the adults answer to, a giant robot commanded by a child, and a new monster every episode. There's much more to the show than these simple ideas and it has a sense of real emotion that many modern anime lacks. Fans of the franchise will greatly appreciate this release but newcomers may be turned off by the idea and overall design.
Tetsujin 28 is presented with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio and looks absolutely stunning. Sure the designs may be reminiscent of artworks from the 1960s but the execution of the show is fantastic looking. The animation is fluid and the world is fleshed out with a great amount of detail and thought put into it. The character designs are simplistic but combined with everything else it feels like a modern spin on an old series. At no time did I notice any aliasing or compression artifacts so the digital transfer here has been handled greatly.
Looking at the impressive visual presentation you'd think that the show would carry a technically sound audio transfer as well. Unfortunately the best quality that can be pulled from this release are from 2.0 Dolby Digital Japanese and English. The subject matter is great with some excellent dubbing, music and sound effects, but directionality is limited and everything comes from the front channel. I preferred the original Japanese dialogue, but the English dubbing wasn't all that bad either. Two subtitle tracks are available and offer screen text only or dialogue and screen.
Aside from some trailers and a clean opening animation, there isn't anything else included on the disc in terms of bonus material. Then again there are five episodes included on this disc so it's not like there was a whole lot of room to play with.
Tetsujin 28 is one of those shows that you will either like or hate. With the current "retro" anime fad on the market the series fits in perfectly and many fans will undoubtedly want to check it out. Of course that's the polarizing aspect of it as well because many otaku will probably look at it and write it off as being of low quality. I do have to admit that I really got into the show and found that the old concept and ideals still held a lot of interest even in today's competitive world. It may be something of an acquired taste but I'm going to recommend the first volume because there's enough stuff here to keep you interested. Recommended
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