Review

by Chris Shepard

The Big O

DVD 1

Synopsis:
The Big O DVD 1
Paradigm City… A City of Amnesia, where forty years ago everyone lost their memory...

...But humanity continues to survive. They've learned to operate machinery, produce electricity, and go on living from day to day. Still, there's something missing in a town with no past, no history of what has come before.

Roger Smith is a Negotiator, hired to negotiate disputes between parties. And Roger enjoys a reputation of being the best at his job. But he has an ace up his sleeve, a rather big ace. He controls the Megadues (one of many giant robots built before the amnesia hit) called the Big O, a wondrous piece of technology from before the age of Amnesia.

Occasionally, fragments of memories appear, and with them often comes trouble. The Big O comes in handy for subduing such dangers, but does it serve some greater purpose?

Together with the unusual R. Dorothy Wayneright and Roger's loyal butler Norman, Roger Smith keeps Paradigm City safe from the nightmares of memory.
Review:
What is this crazy Batman-looking like series? The Batman similarities and design is pretty much what kept me from watching the dubbed and edited run of this 13 episode series on Cartoon Network. That and the fact that it was dubbed and edited. However, I'm glad I finally got a chance to overcome such prejudices and watch this thing. It was very slick indeed...

As far as DVD quality goes, The Big O looks and sounds great. Any video discrepancies are extremely minimal. I was hard pressed to find anything seriously wrong with it. The packaging was very good as well. The cover design looks dark and moody, keeping in tone with the show itself, and the backside was well laid out containing the necessary detailed information about what is present on this disc. When it comes to packaging, Bandai's jobs always seem to be top-notch.

This Bandai menu was quite stylized, as many of them seem to be. What's odd though is that you can't really see the possible selections until you move over them with your cursor. A tiny bit of practicality was sacrificed here for style but it's pretty insignificant to complain about. The menu response time is fast and the layout is easy to navigate, once you figure out where everything is.

Last of the DVD necessities to talk about, the extras. The Big O Volume 1 does not skimp out here. First of all, there's the ever-popular textless opening. The opening itself is rather unspectacular but this form of extra is always a welcomed inclusion. Second, a long interview with some of the creators of The Big O, dealing with concepts and how the entire project came to. It's a completely text-based interview, containing no audio, but it remained eminently intriguing. I wonder what Bandai has in store for us next disc.

As mentioned above, the character designs of Big O look very similar to those of Batman. However, the similarities don't end there. Roger Smith, the main man, is much like Bruce Wayne in personality and in style as well. Both wear only black, usually as in a tuxedo, live in mansion, and have their trusty butlers. Roger does have a little more style though, he's a smooth talker with a slightly inflated ego and he's also quite a playboy. Our main character here is very well defined and easy to like and get into. He isn't completely one sided either. He has his moments of frustration where he generally looses his cool. Roger Smith is an excellent lead to the show of Big O.

The supporting cast and more minor characters are well defined as well. Dorothy, the android girl Roger takes in, was a very mysterious woman. The way Roger interacts with her from the beginning of the disc, and how their relationship subtly develops throughout, was handled excellently. I found myself wanting to know more about them and I'm interested in seeing how and if their relationship develops any further. There are also a few other minor characters that have dropped in and out of a couple of episodes that are intriguing as well. I look forward to seeing what transpires.

The Big O series contains quite a few perplexing mysteries. Why are these Megadues located underground? Just what was their true purpose? What is it that caused the amnesia to hit the city in the first place? All of these are deep down thoughts the viewer is sure to think about as the main plot of the episode playing unfolds.

With sleek designs, cool characters, and interesting plot backgrounds, the only thing that seems a little bit forced at times are the giant robots themselves. Roger Smith does not seem to be the person to just start duking it out with someone; he has more style than that. Yet when suits up in his Big O, the anime turns into a straight out giant robot whomp-fest. Well, not completely, the battles don't tend to drag on for that long, but The Big O didn't really need any robots to save it from being uninteresting. Though, perhaps that is what makes it interesting; the fact that it's so odd. So far, the robot fights have been well integrated with the rest of the anime so I can't seriously complain about them. Time will tell if the big robots remain interesting as the series moves on.

As far as animation goes, it is completely superb. The designs look great and are well enhanced by the DVD. The robot battles, while not completely mind-blowing, remain well animated and interesting throughout their duration. The Big O doesn't come anywhere near to containing the most exciting and choreographed robot battles ever created but they are well done.

Fans of something different, like stylized anime, will enjoy the soundtrack as well. The blues pieces chosen fit the themes of the series perfectly. Silence is also used quite a lot as well, which adds to the overall feel of the anime. Silence can be one of the best mood and tone setting elements in a production when used correctly.

The Big O is a series of style. Very rarely does an anime come along that contains this general feel of "coolness" throughout. From when you first start watching, you may not know much about what you're watching, but you just can't help but like the feel of it all. The scenery, the way the characters interact, and so forth. The plot remains interesting and the action scenes become intense. If you're looking for something a tiny bit more serious than the normal that isn't quite as deep as Evangelion or Serial Experiments Lain, and something that doesn't involve mass killing and constant pandemonium, it's definitely recommended you check out Big O. It's turning out to be very good so far.
Grade:
Production Info:
Overall (dub) : A
Overall (sub) : A

+ Very stylized and very easy to become absorbed into
More impatient people may find it to be a little slow moving at times.

Director:Kazuyoshi Katayama
Script:
Masanao Akahoshi
Keiichi Hasegawa
Shin Yoshida
Screenplay:
Kazuyoshi Katayama
Chiaki J. Konaka
Storyboard:
Kiichi Hadame
Umanosuke Iida
Kazuyoshi Katayama
Toru Kitahata
Akira Matsuoka
Susumu Nishizawa
Hideki Okamoto
Katsumi Terahigashi
Tetsuya Watanabe
Akihiko Yamashita
Yoshitomo Yonetani
Episode Director:
Kazuyoshi Katayama
Toru Kitahata
Kenji Nakamura
Masakazu Ohara
Hideki Okamoto
Ikuro Sato
Sumio Watanabe
Tetsuya Watanabe
Akira Yoshimura
Music:Toshihiko Sahashi
Original creator:Hajime Yatate
Character Design:Keiichi Satou
Art Director:Masaru Ohta
Chief Animation Director:Hiroshi Takeuchi
Animation Director:
Junichi Hayama
Kenji Hayama
Madoka Hirayama
Kumi Horii
Hiromitsu Morishita
Masami Nagata
Takehiro Nakayama
Masami Ozone
Takuro Shinbo
Hiroshi Takeuchi
Masahiro Yamane
Makoto Yoshizaki
Mechanical design:Keiichi Satou
Art design:Hajime Satou
Sound Director:Yota Tsuruoka
Director of Photography:
Toru Fukushi
Kazuhiro Okeda
Producer:
Chieo Ohashi
Eiji Sashita
Atsushi Sugita

Full encyclopedia details about
Big O (TV)

Release information about
The Big O (DVD 1)

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