Upon the release of Ranma 1/2 on Bluray, Mike takes a stroll through the world of Rumiko Takahashi.
Eat-Man is a series that simply defies explaination. It's fairly simple in premise, and so that allows it to build entirely new environments, characters, and situations around one cental character -- Bolt Crank -- in every single episode. Despite an amusing premise (and a truly whacked opening song), it's certainly not a comedy... it's a bizarre mix of drama, sci-fi, and action. Somehow, it works.
Bolt Crank is weird. Very weird. First of all, he's one of those quiet types that keeps to themselves whenever possible. Second of all, he can usually be found doing odd jobs to keep him busy while he waits for his next opportunity at his real job -- a vigilante. Third, although he doesn't really have a weakness for women, he occasionally mumbles a little something that shows he really knows what's going on in their hearts. He also wears these weird oversized Yoko Ono red-tinted glasses. Oh, and did I mention he dines on metal fixtures, like guns, clocks, and the like?
Yeah, Unca Bolt's rather unique digestive system means he eats metal (hence the name, Eat-Man)... and can manifest whatever he ate. If he muches a gun, he can whip it right out of his hand. Neat!
In the first of the two episodes on this tape, Bolt is working as a janitor in a bar/inn located in a city surrounded by a wall of glass (think of it as a Great Wall of China effect). Culene, a beautiful female mercenary, is waiting to meet someone for a potential job, but when that job turns out to be bumping off the mob boss that is out to kill the guy, Culene loses her temper for being mistaken as a simple hit-man. She is struck by Bolt's demeanor, and invites him in for his company (and perhaps more). This leads to some interesting conversation, and perhaps an inevitable outcome.
In the second episode, Bolt and a young scientist by the name of Dr. Alessa are hired to investigate an island that was once a military genetic research facility. Recently, its efforts have turned to taking extinct animals and turning them into weapons. (Think "Jurassic Park" where the animals are actually SUPPOSED to eat the people.) Their orders are not to kill anything, but when following that order becomes too dangerous (and the existence of the animals is confirmed... which was their mission) Bolt is ready to go back. Dr. Alessa, however, has a personal reason for wanting to help the animals.
A lot of people didn't like this late-night 12-episode TV series, and complained that it didn't do justice to the manga. Having never read the manga, I can't really say if it does or not... However, the anime series does have a very respectable Zen quality to it. It's refreshingly slow-paced, and takes its time developing characters for what are essentially vignette plots. Each episode has its own meaning -- the first features some nice existential symbolism -- and each is ultimately satisfying by the end.
AnimeVillage hired ZRO Limit for this subtitling job, and their post-production skills work wonderfully here, with a great translation, nice subtitles, and complete credits. (Some of the opening credits are obstructed by the song translations at the bottom... but those are more important.
Eat-Man is about the farthest thing from a mainstream anime title as you can get while still being firmly in the shonen anime camp. It's slow (some might say tedious) pace will certainly try the patience of anyone expecting something like a Yoshiaki Kawajiri film or Dragon Ball. However, I have to respect it for its style and sense of subtle commentary on a violent future society.
While I can't imagine that Eat-Man is the type of series that would do very well in America, it's got some truly nice storytelling. If you like slower, more hypnotic anime (like Angel's Egg or Night on the Galactic Railroad), this might be for you.
Overall (sub) : B+
+ Original! Great mood and atmosphere, good character development
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