Comics artist and former Gainax employee Lea Hernandez joins us to talk about her turbulent time back in the late 80s with the company that gave birth to Evangelion.
Reviewby Zac Bertschy, Dec 27th 2005
Get ready for the world's most RADICAL superhero! Joe, a totally in-your-face kickin' rad dude, loves action flicks and chillin' with his totally bangin' girlfriend Silvia. One day, when scopin' a totally gnarly radical to the max action movie, Joe's personal hero, the mad phat Captain Blue, is defeated for the first time ever and the villains literally jump out of the screen and steal Silvia! HEINOUS! So it's up to our hero to take up the mantle of Viewtiful Joe, a superhero with incredible powers thanks to his awesome V-Watch, and save Silvia from the forces of evil.
Ever wonder what it would be like if they made an anime series based on Mountain Dew commercials?
Viewtiful Joe, at least the English dub (we'll never know about the Japanese version since Geneon decided not to include it on this disc), is probably as close as we're going to get. Wall-to-wall obnoxious slang, terrible voice acting, poorly-animated candy-colored characters and what could possibly be the most annoying main character in the history of the form make Viewtiful Joe basically unwatchable.
There's something depressing about watching an anime series that's been reworked to pander to American children. Sure, it was just a toy commercial in Japan; the original version simply panders to a different audience, but when an American licensee, desperate to rake in the cash TV exposure can bring them, tries to make an anime series “hip”, the results are usually laughably bad. Viewtiful Joe is one of these series; the localization is so labored and so over-the-top, even the kids they're trying to pander to will see right through it.
Based on the Gamecube game of the same name (which, in America, primarily appealed to high school and college kids due to the difficulty of the game), Viewtiful Joe attempts to transplant the game's bizarre design and hyperkinetic sentai style into the anime form, and it doesn't work. Sure, the character designs and backgrounds are all faithfully recreated, but apparently zero effort was put into animating them. Everyone moves as little as possible, the animation is overwhelmingly digital-looking, there are countless cheap shortcuts taken and when the characters do move, it's amazingly awkward. Nothing really moves right; perspectives are off most of the time, characters don't quite look the same from frame to frame, and when he's transformed, Joe's muscles defy all basic laws of movement and anatomy.
Really, the most egregious thing about Viewtiful Joe is the absolutely atrocious dub, which is where the show really stumbles. Rife with forced, outdated hip-hop slang, the English dialogue is jam-packed with gems like “What's the dilly-o, Silvia?” “I scored us some feed!” and “Whoa, check that out, it's the bomb-diggity!”. It's like someone took the principle behind the awkward, laughable rap song from 4Kids' infamous One Piece dub and applied it to an entire show. The villains all have over-the-top voices and basically serve no purpose other than to sling around painfully lame jokes; Joe's voice is the epitome of “raspy spunky dude with a seriously gnarly attitude!”. The whole thing tries way, way, way too hard to be “cool” and completely misses the mark.
There are only three episodes on this disc, but really, that's more than enough. After the first episode the show follows a pretty basic monster-or-obstacle-of-the-week formula, with Joe traveling through perilous stages to reclaim his girlfriend. The show fails even as basic shonen action fluff thanks to the terrible dub and subpar animation. Even fans of the game will likely be insulted by this tripe. It's an obvious cash grab, a transparent attempt to pander to American kids by forcing a “hip” factor that didn't really exist in the show to begin with. It's a shame, really; the game, as tongue-in-cheek as it was, might've made a fun little anime series. As it is, all we get is this ridiculous garbage.
Overall (dub) : F
Story : D
Animation : F
Art : B
Music : C-
+ Faithfully recreates the character designs; original opening theme left intact.
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