Review

by Rebecca Silverman,

Infini-T Force

Episodes 1-12 Streaming

Synopsis:
Infini-T Force Episodes 1-12 Streaming
Seventeen-year-old Emi Kaido hasn't seen her father in ten years. She lives alone and feels increasingly disaffected, challenging the world to kill her and feeling empty when her daredevil behavior doesn't "pay off". All of that is about to change when she meets four heroes from alternate earths. When their worlds were eliminated by an evil man known only as “Z”, they instead came to Emi's, and together they determine to stop the destruction. But can they also convince Emi that her life is worth living?
Review:

Infini-T Force is the best kind of fanfiction, taking beloved characters from your past and carefully recreating them to remain recognizable while embarking on a whole new adventure. Based loosely on four of Tatsunoko's superhero shows from the 1970s, the series takes the heroes of Hurricane Polymar, Gatchaman, Tekkaman, and the original Casshan and transports them to modern-day Shibuya after their worlds are destroyed by a madman named Z. There they encounter a high school girl named Emi who's either the world's most obnoxious teenage girl or suffering from something she's keeping under wraps. When she ends up wielding the power of a mysterious magical object known as the Case, the heroes must convince her to use that power to help them defeat Z and prevent more worlds from being destroyed—but breaking through Emi's crusty exterior proves to be the bigger challenge.

Emi's shut herself off from the world, a direct result of her father's desertion, and she's been going through the motions of daily life while taking the occasional deadly risk ever since. In her mind, the world isn't really worth saving, because it hasn't done her any favors in the last decade. Pairing that attitude with four heroes from 1970s anime, when themes of “the power of friendship” and “let's all work together” were stronger than ever, is a way to both break through her ennui and give older viewers a warm feeling of nostalgia as they see their childhood heroes coming back to save a modern girl. It's a very specific form of nostalgia that has to walk a very fine line between corniness and efficacy. For the most part, Infini-T Force manages to stay on the right side of things, giving us little winking nudges about its cheesier aspects while still keeping things contemporary enough in terms of storytelling.

In part this is due to how each of the classic characters interacts with Emi. Casshan's Tetsuya helps her to understand her relationship with her father through his backstory, Tekkaman's Joji explains plot events rationally, Hurricane Polymar's Takeshi provides a link to her current world (he's been living on her Earth for a year when the story begins), and Gatchaman's Ken offers emotional support. Ken also offers one of the more interesting and confusing relationships in the series, as the one who continually reminds Emi that she's no longer alone and that she doesn't have to isolate herself. Given the age gap, it isn't clear whether or not he's doing this in a parental capacity or if there's meant to be a romantic component to their relationship. He's certainly the most physical with her, and one scene of her walking in on him exercising shirtless definitely indicates some romantic tension, but there's an odd ambiguity to their relationship. Presumably it's intended for viewers to intuit their own interpretation, but however you choose to read their relationship, it's undeniable that Ken is the one who really helps Emi to open up, facilitating her growth over the course of the series.

That growth forms the backbone of the show. While there are smaller battles with Z's henchmen (Daisuke Hirakawa's Damian Gray is definitely memorable if only for his skinned flamingo hairstyle), the ultimate showdown in the penultimate episode relies on Emi's evolution as a character. Previous battles with Belle Lynn or Raja Kaan help Emi to understand what she needs to do in order not just to defeat Z but also to grow up, which is integral to the final battle. At its heart, Infini-T Force shares a lot thematically with the 1986 film Labyrinth. Like Sarah, Emi must learn to look beyond herself and understand that growing up doesn't always mean giving up things that matter to you, especially if holding too tightly to those ideas holds you back from actually living.

Whether or not those similarities are deliberate, there is a slightly '80s feel to some of the character designs, with Damian's being the most notable. Belle Lynn's kimono-patterned bodysuit feels reminiscent of the period as well, and perhaps the less said about Takeshi's enormous jean cuffs the better. His character design suffers the most from the show's use of 3D animation – his curly hair ends up looking plastered down by grease, and while Joji's sakura-patterned sweater isn't terrific (and his head looks far too small for his body), it's still Takeshi's grungy look that feels the most awkward. For the most part, the animation looks good, with movement much smoother than you might expect; some of the more typical anime facial expressions are creepy on the more realistic faces and bodies, but the aesthetic largely works once you get used to it. Interestingly enough, Tetsuya's robotic Doberman Friender moves the most naturally, and dog lovers will appreciate that no matter what happens to Friender, he always comes back just fine.

Infini-T Force is that rare exercise in nostalgia-based entertainment that works even if you're not familiar with its mix of influences. While it helps to know who these heroes are and where they came from, it's not strictly necessary – all you really need to understand is that they're from a different era of superhero storytelling. Alongside its message about letting go and moving on, Infini-T Force also delivers the fun of playing with your toys from disparate franchises and creating your own stories independent of official storylines, delivering a multiverse-sized story with ease.

Grade:
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : B-
Art : B-
Music : C+

+ Fun and nostalgic, uses old characters to tell a new story well
Animation style doesn't always work, lesser bad guys' plots not well-developed, some weird design choices

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Production Info:
Director: Kiyotaka Suzuki
Series Composition: Toshiya Ono
Script:
Yuichiro Kido
Jun Kumagai
Toshiya Ono
Kenji Sugihara
Storyboard:
Kiyotaka Suzuki
Nanase Tomii
Episode Director: Kiyotaka Suzuki
Original Character Design:
Oh! great
Keiichi Satou
Mechanical design: Koji Nakakita

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Infini-T Force (TV)

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