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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Android Kikaider - Lonely Soul
Android Kikaider - Lonely Soul
Bandai // Unrated // August 5, 2003
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Don Houston | posted July 12, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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Movie: Once upon a time, there was a story in Japan about an android boy who had a heart of gold and saved the day from evil-doers. His name was Astroboy (Tetsuwan Atom) and the anime series was set in 2003. There had been elements of Disney's Pinocchio in the story and it was highly regarded by kids everywhere (including myself). Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, in 2000, a new series based on similar themes was developed, Android Kikaider.



The show centers on a young male, Jiro, who has amnesia and wanders around the countryside with a guitar strapped to his back. Remarkably strong, the guy is discovered to be a highly evolved form of android that was made by a scientist who's daughter becomes his sole friend (when the scientist dies in what was initially thought to be an accident). It quickly becomes evident that evil forces are at work and even the girl, Mitsuko, isn't sure if the android is trustworthy or not. It appears he has a specialized computer circuit, the Gemini, that makes young Jiro act in a law abiding manner. If the circuit is broken of becomes defective, there's no fixing it and the android must be destroyed. Along the way, the evil Professor Gill attempts to seize Jiro and experiment on him to learn the secrets he carries. In order to capture him, the professor uses a variety of insect themed androids, all of which are powerful themselves. Can Jiro regain his memory? Will he survive the constant onslaught? has his Gemini circuit been damaged?



The show was fairly limited based on the first 4 episodes. They were stand alone in nature but didn't provide much more than a couple of fights which, to be fair, were cookie cutter in nature. You'll find better fights, and anime in general, elsewhere. The voice acting in the English dub wasn't terrible but it sure wasn't among the best Bandai has to offer. The other major technical problem is that the show seemed rushed-the anime style was limited and often included rough sketches in place of actual animation. On top of that, the "move the camera" style of motion was used extensively and it added to the cheap feel of the show.



You'll also want to know that there was almost no detail to the background or the characters themselves in terms of the drawings-perhaps they were all computer generated, quickly, and on a limited budget. It may appeal to kids or those into retro looking anime but there are so many more advanced titles to choose from, particularly series that explore some of the same themes in a more in-depth way, that this one seems ready for the Saturday morning kiddy crowd rather than for serious anime fans looking for a cool new set of adventures.



In all, I have to rate this one as a Skip It because it's simply too expensive for what you get and too limited to enjoy unless you're really young or have the "I want it all" mentality that some anime fanatics have adopted. As stated, the themes themselves are classic but how they are handled here just made me wince a bit. I should've watched a few episodes on the Cartoon Network for free first but anime fans are known for their excesses, as are anime reviewers.



Picture: The picture was presented in it's original 1.33:1 ratio fullframe color. It was colorful but had a lot of problems in some scenes (the picture had artifacts and some color bleeding with shimmer in some of the scenes). With the limited style of anime employed here, I wonder why there were such problems.



Sound: The sound was presented with a choice of either stereo English or Japanese, and optional English subtitles. The Japanese track was the better of the two but neither was especially well developed. Most of the vocals came from the center channel with some of the explosions coming out of the side speakers. Not bad though.



Extras: The extras consisted of a neat fold out paper insert that detailed the four included episodes, a few rough sketches of the artwork and a few trailers.



Final Thoughts: While it had some interesting moments, the first dvd was certainly not going to win any awards in how the material was handled. A lot of the dialogue was weak, nearly improvised in fact, but it seemed like the original Japanese producers wanted to pay tribute to old Speed Racer cartoons rather than focus on the task at hand.

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