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Aura Battler Dunbine - Invaders From Byston Well
Maybe it's just the results of anime companies buying the rights to every old anime out there, hoping to strike gold with a few of them with the American anime fans. Sometimes they do (Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise, Arcadia of My Youth). Sometimes they don't (Demon Lord Dante, Ronin Warriors). Aura Battler Dunbine is closer to salt than gold, a bitter viewing experience that doesn't look pretty and hurts when it hits your eyes. If the story was at all enthralling (read: Robotech) it would get some consideration, but this show, to me, is a nonsensical mess.
I add it to the latter group, another TV show anime that's easily forgotten.
I must preface this with the admission I didn't sit through volumes one through seven. Life is too short, people. I can say that by watching these four episodes, 30 through 33, I got enough of a taste to know that Yoshiyuki Tomino has done better stuff (read: Mobile Suit Gundam F91).
The war with the aura ships (aka, typical mecha) is threatening the existence of Byston Well, the medieval world that our motorcross racing hero Show Zama has been mystically zapped to.
Recruited by the imperials at the start, Show is now with the good guys in this civil war, and both sides use their giant Aura Battlers to wage war over this medieval place.
In episode 30, Show attempts to rescue a Selkie, a mystical, green-haired person. During his rescue attempt, knights on horses fire guns and throw spears at him and the girl. Now, stop asking why people are still throwing spears when they own guns. Ask why they're still riding horses when they have the robots to ride around in.
In episode 31, the Black Knight makes an entrance, and battles Show's robot with his own, the Zwarth. I was more interested in the three-inch-tall fairy flying around than the giant mecha battle.
In episode 32, the Aura Battlers are banished to Upper Earth (that's where you live, poor reader) by the Feeorine, a mystical people (no, different from the Selkies), in order to save Byston Well. The Aura Battlers, good and bad, get in fights with our standard war planes, which continues into episode 33.
The livelihood of both civilizations is put in peril. Show must convince the real world's military that they must prepare for the bad guys. Only the Dunbine can save us.
I'm usually pretty easy to please as an anime fan. Old-looking, boring battles with crap for backgrounds? Fine, as long as the story is good. Dense, impenetrable script? Fine, as long as it looks neat.
Aura Battler Dunbine has neither the looks nor the meat to make it worth your time. Not when there's so much more out there.
Rough, rough original print. Hey, what did you expect, the anime is from 1983. There are specks, and spots, and grain, and aliasing, and poor colors, all surrounding one very ugly anime. The backgrounds are very subdued and soft, the characters are all carbon copies of characters you've seen before, and the action is nothing to get excited about. Older anime that's heavy on fighting rarely looks good, compared to what's around now, but Aura Battler Dunbine is an especially bad mecha anime.
Ugh. The Japanese 2.0 is as simple as you would expect, but it's not terrible. The English 2.0, however, seemed like a very weak presentation, with below average voiceovers. Christine Auten and Jay Hickman both have impressive resumes as English voice actors in anime, but here they seem bored and half-asleep. Overworked? As interested as I was in the script? The ambient noises are ridiculously cheesy, with the occasional xylophone for mystical fairy entrances and exits, canned, weak explosions for the battles, and those classic robot beeps and grinds that could have been pulled from 200 other shows. If you're on the beach, you'll get your seagulls and waves crashing at the wrong levels. If you're in a crowd, you'll get your chatter, at the wrong level. The balance of foreground and background noises seem off-kilter.
Thin special features, with clean opening and closing animation videos, six ADV previews (very eclectic mix of titles) and DVD credits. The moving production sketches short is laid to the same yawner of an opening music track as everything else on this disc. I think ADV knew they had a title that could only reach a small audience, and didn't feel anything more was worth the effort. They were probably right.
The only part of this DVD worth your extracurricular time is the insert folder, with a detailed description of the current episodes and the series to date.
It's anime like Aura Battler Dunbine that equates easily to the 1980s American-made action cartoon. I had flashbacks of G.I. Joe, Transformers and He-Man, all at one time, while sitting through this anime. And I think I'm just too spoiled today on all the wonderful, new and shiny visuals that modern anime offers. I can appreciate many retro anime titles, like Giant Robo, Battle Royal and Metal Skin Panic – MADOX 01. But Aura Battler Dunbine is a medieval/sci-fi/mystical/war mess, that just didn't do much for me, Rent it if you can hang with older shows and want a flashback to your childhood Saturday mornings. Skip it if you get your kicks from samurai, girls with guns, and thrillers.