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by Nicholas Dupree,

Genesis Climber Mospeada

Anime Series Review

Genesis Climber Mospeada Streaming Anime Review
In the year 2050, a hostile race of aliens known as the Inbit invaded and swiftly conquered Earth. Thirty years later, what remnants of humanity remained free in the colonies on Mars launch multiple attempts to retake their home planet, only to be met with overwhelming force. Lieutenant Stig Bernard miraculously slips through the Inbit's global defenses, and begins gathering allies among Earth's survivors, in hopes of toppling the aliens' capitol. Armed with their transforming MOSPEADA motorcycle battle armor, this ragtag team may be the only hope to save all life on Earth.

It can be easy for even longtime fans to forget that alongside Macross, there were two other 80's sci-fi anime that got Frankenstein-ed into what we'd eventually call Robotech. While this isn't the first time one of those series has made it to modern streaming – both Mospeada and The Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross got short-lived stints on Prime Video back in 2016 – it's still momentous to see an older, often overshadowed series made available for new audiences. Unfortunately, this streaming release is far from an optimal viewing experience, with multiple technical issues making it much harder to recommend for new watchers.

Any fan of classic anime knows that older shows aren't always made available in their best state, and that's the case for Mospeada on streaming. While technically an HD restoration, the footage is in noticeably rough shape. The film is fuzzy, dirty, and suffers from frequent frame splicing, giving it the feel of watching a bootleg VHS copy more than an official release. For a streaming-exclusive problem, the entire series has mistimed subtitles on Crunchyroll at the time of writing. While the first half of every episode is fine, anything after the eye-catch has a noticeable delay, making dialogue difficult to follow. Furthermore, only a handful of the next-episode preview segments are subtitled. Most glaring, as of the time of writing, episode 14 does not have English subtitles at all, with no feedback from Crunchyroll as to when or if that will change.

In addition to all that, the existing translation is pretty stiff and clunky. You'll frequently run across overly literal phrasing like "This is my third time to be eating it" that could stand to be smoothed out. While still comprehensible, it can make the characters sound alien or robotic when they aren't meant to. It's an insulting state to release any show in and reeks of something thrown together with as few resources or effort as possible. While the show is still watchable – episode 14 is a side story that doesn't change much in the larger plot – it's littered with unnecessary speed bumps that will likely push away all but the most dedicated retro mecha fans. No show of any era or quality deserves this shoddy treatment, and I can only hope Crunchyroll will eventually address the subtitling issues.

If you can get past those speed bumps, you'll find a pretty charming – if rather inconsistent – piece of sci-fi television. Much of that inconsistency comes from Mospeada's highly episodic nature. While our ragtag group of heroes has an eventual goal of capturing the Inbit capitol and liberating the Earth, the journey there is long, winding, and filled with a lot of classic 80's shenanigans. Episodes can range wildly in tone and subject, from somber and tragic explorations of survivor's guilt to literal fever dreams where the cast becomes knock-off Saint Seiya characters and fights a dragon. During their adventures, our heroes encounter Mad Max-style bikers, cyborg outlaws from the Wild West, and a secret land of dinosaurs deep beneath the Earth's crust. Just about anything goes, and the quality of writing is just as variable.

That wild variance proves to be the show's greatest strength and ultimate weakness all at once. Some episodes are fun, lighthearted adventures that let the ensemble cast shine. Others are dreary or underwritten slogs that make the cast look like callous jerks or idiots. Most critically, there's rarely any development for any characters beyond each episode's borders. One might have an epiphany or learn a lesson in one episode, only to return to their usual self the next, with seemingly no memory or interest in what came before. That adherence to the status quo also means that the finale can't help feeling rushed and awkward, dumping exposition on the audience's heads to make its point before it runs out of episodes. There are still entertaining and memorable episodes along the way, but the meat of Mospeada is in the journey, not the destination.

The core cast makes up for much of that through their combined charm. They're static and archetypal but work well in concert. Ray is your classic cocky young anime hero, with sarcasm to match his confidence. Houquet is a strong fighter who struggles to let people get close to her. Stig is a no-nonsense leader who keeps everyone on mission. Jim is a former soldier haunted by his failures on the battlefield. Mint is the glorified mascot who's either charmingly annoying or just regular annoying, depending on your tolerance. There's a bit more flair to Yellow, a soldier who's lived in disguise as a woman for years to avoid detection by the Inbit, and provides many of the show's 80's-tastic insert songs. While none of them are terribly interesting on their own, when put in the right situations and given room to interact, they form a lovable crew to follow across each episode.

As is customary for any 80s TV production, animation quality varies wildly. Some episodes will feature at least a few impressive cuts, typically focused on the transforming armor and robots. Others will be stitched with scotch tape, including one where the animators just forget what color Ray's hair is multiple times. The aforementioned fever dream episode is half constructed from reused footage, while the other half looks like it was drawn by every artist's non-dominant hand. The human designs are solid and distinct, working together in a group while giving each character a unique visual identity. The robots, on the other hand, feel toyetic in all the wrong ways. The Mospeada bikes require the riders to wear these blocky armor pieces that even the characters think look uncool, while the Legioss plane-mechs are too chunky. There are highlights (episode 22, "NY Bebop," is a standout on all fronts) and lowlights in just about equal measure regarding the visuals.

The one element that's consistently excellent is the music. Whether it's the opening and ending themes, numerous insert songs, or just the regular score, every track in Mospeada goes hard, and is positively stuffed with authentic 80's cheese. Any episode featuring a concert by Yellow in his pop star alter-ego is a treat, especially when he's in full Pat Benatar mode, serenading his companions' life-threatening mech battles in spandex workout gear and impossibly feathered hair. The rumbling bass lines and blaring guitars in the rest of the score are enough to carry even the worst animated fight scenes. Just one round with the OP will have you humming about "that old lullaby" and a "lonely soldier boy" for weeks afterward.

Mospeada is a work very much of its time, riffing on ideas and tropes that were all the rage when it was made, and doesn't do anything exceptional with them. It wouldn't be the first title I'd recommend to viewers trying to get into 80's mecha. That said, fans of sci-fi anime or retro titles in general will probably find something to enjoy in its scattered and diverse adventures.

Overall : B-
Story : C
Animation : C+
Art : B
Music : A

+ Great music, lovable cast, light and fun episodic plots make for easy entry
Inconsistent writing and animation, weak ending, marred by glaring technical issues on streaming

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Production Info:
Chief Director: Katsuhisa Yamada
Satoshi Namiki
Kenji Terada
Sukehiro Tomita
Ryō Yasumura
Katsuhito Akiyama
Hiroyuki Kamii
Masayuki Kojima
Hiromichi Matano
Saburo Nodera
Katsuhisa Yamada
Ryō Yasumura
Norio Yazawa
Episode Director:
Katsuhito Akiyama
Tatsuya Kasahara
Maari Kobayashi
Masayuki Kojima
Yusaku Saotome
Ryō Yasumura
Joe Hisaishi
Kan Ogasawara
Original Character Design: Yoshitaka Amano
Art Director:
Nobuto Sakamoto
Hiroaki Satō
Animation Director:
Yutaka Arai
Kazuhiko Udagawa
Satoshi Yamamoto
Mechanical design:
Shinji Aramaki
Hideki Kakinuma
Executive producer: Kenji Yoshida
Licensed by: Harmony Gold USA, Inc.

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Genesis Climber Mospeada (TV)

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