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by Theron Martin,


episodes 1-12 streaming

Five years ago, humanoid bugs called Kiseishuu began appearing on Earth. Their ability to absorb the energy of human desire (called H-Energy), as well as other assorted superhuman abilities, make them dangerous foes. Because of the way his childhood friend Kirara was affected by a Kiseishuu on their first appearance, high school student Retto Enjo has now joined a secret organization. In concert with three other girls, he uses the revolutionary XERO Gear to harness his H-Energy to become a superhuman warrior against the Kiseishuu. It has the unfortunate downside of destroying the user's clothes when activated, but it is effective nonetheless. When the cold and distant Kirara also gets dragged into Retto's battles, they discover that Kirara's bottled-up passions potentially make her one of the group's strongest members – if she can get over her embarrassment enough to participate, that is.

This Summer 2020 series is based on a manga which is not yet available in English but is scheduled to come out in 2021. It is the latest in a long line of fanservice-intensive series which justify their prurient content by associating libido with super-powers. Frankly, the idea is not a crazy one, as human libido can be intense enough that imagining super-powers resulting from it is not much of a stretch if you accept the existence of super-powers in general. However, this series is not aiming for any higher philosophical observations and has no interest in being analytical about such a relationship. This is full-blown gimmickry tailor-made to maximize opportunities for nudity and racy behavior, and never pretends like it is anything more than that.

The series is clearly aiming to be a sexy parody of super sentai titles, something that it is quite self-aware about; various characters even comment at certain points about which color each team member is, and they wind up presenting themselves as such towards the end of the series. The XERO Gears serve as transformation devices of sorts (though in this case, the “costumes” are each person's birthday suit until they finally get proper uniforms late in the series), with the activating devices being on a different body location for each person; Retto's is a wristwatch, but for the girls it could be a choker, armband, or leg band. They spend much of the series confronting Villains of the Week who all have cheesy abilities and personalities, and the villains always act in roundabout ways, which is something that even Retto comments on at one point. Only the fanservice and libido-linked empowerment differentiate the series at all from a typical super sentai title.

That fanservice is not just the difference-maker here; it is the series' defining element, making it both the series' biggest strength and its biggest weakness. On the plus side, the content delivers abundant nudity, though how much of it will be fully uncensored in an eventual BD release remains to be seen. (I say this because the censoring in one scene is commented on by characters in the scene and thus is effectively part of the joke.) The kind of sexy shenanigans that typically populate racier harem romcoms also abound, but that is where the problem lies: these shenanigans are only at the level of a typical harem romcom. For a series where power-ups are implied to be dependent on getting the team members aroused, the actual content is reserved about carrying those efforts out. No sex or even serious foreplay is involved, (breast) fondling happens some but is limited, and even kissing is rare. Compared to something like last year's Val x Love (the recent title which this one is probably most closely related to), this series is tame with its sexual antics, never mind something like Interspecies Reviewers. The introduction of a second team late in the series implies that Retto's bunch may generally be a bit repressed, but that is not a sufficient excuse.

Beyond the fanservice, the series does not offer much. The team deals with beach episodes, hot springs episodes, invading an enemy hive, an enemy defector, and confronting a supposedly-allied team – in other words, all of the typical stuff – while also handling complications from the Villain of the Week. The Kisheishuu show no sense of grander planning until the last couple of episodes, so even their queen does not make for a terribly interesting villain. Core cast members are also almost entirely stock personality types, with the one mildly fresh take being Kirara. She's a rare variant type of tsundere, one who went cold not so much to hide her feelings about Retto nor because of the Kisheishuu's effect but because she was terrified by how her libido was so strong that even a Kisheishuu gave up on trying to suck all of the desire out of her. (Kisheishuu victims tend to lose all passion for anything and become dull, plodding zombies, which has an interesting effect when an idol singer gets attacked by one.) That results in the demon of her nastier nature appearing as a provocatively-dressed version of her 11 or 12-year-old self who constantly goads her into lewd acts, which is cute in some senses but uncomfortably edgy in others.

The series has little on the technical front to prop it up, either. The animation production by project No.9 is very ordinary, with animation limited enough that the series takes frequent shortcuts even in action scenes. Character designs look decent enough, with Retto looking remarkably buff for his role and the girls providing a good variety of body types, but the only time they stand out is when they finally get their uniforms late in the series. And let's not even get started about Retto's uncle's bizarre fashion sense; this is a man who seems to take fashion cues from Fullmetal Alchemist's Envy. Kisheishuu designs are about as generic as vaguely humanoid bugs can get. The musical score supporting it fares better but also does not distinguish itself much beyond the bombastic opener.

Funimation has generally handled dubs of fanservice-intensive series pretty well, and this one is no exception. Matt Shipman is a fine fit as Retto, and Brittany Lauda (Cow Girl in Goblin Slayer) capably handles Kirara's ever-changing moods. The other girls are at least passable. The only casting choice I even slightly question is Daman Mills as Jou Anno, as the performance does not sound quite idiosyncratic enough. Only about 2/3 of the dub was done as of the time of this writing, but I have no concerns about the rest of the series.

On the whole, SUPER HXEROS has some entertainment value, but it is purely disposable and easily forgettable entertainment. Two OVA episodes are forthcoming if you want to see more – one in November 2020 and one in March 2021.

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

+ Lots of potential nudity (for those who care about such things)
Too timid in handling its premise, mediocre animation.

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Production Info:
Director: Masato Jinbo
Series Composition: Masato Jinbo
Masato Jinbo
Satoru Sugizawa
Yūichi Abe
Cagetzu Aizawa
Kahoru Fujiki
Takahiro Hirata
Yūya Horiuchi
Masakazu Imai
Masato Jinbo
Kento Shintani
Hiroaki Takagi
Yūta Takamura
Takashi Watanabe
Story & Art: Ryōma Kitada
Episode Director:
Yūichi Abe
Takahiro Hirata
Yūya Horiuchi
Masakazu Imai
Masato Jinbo
Toshiaki Kanbara
Yuta Maruyama
Hiroaki Takagi
Yūta Takamura
Unit Director:
Cagetzu Aizawa
Kahoru Fujiki
Music: Gin
Original creator: Ryōma Kitada
Character Design: Ryōsuke Yamamoto
Art Director: Kenta Masuda
Chief Animation Director:
Hiroyuki Furukawa
Akemi Kobayashi
Tsutomu Miyazawa
Ryōsuke Yamamoto
Animation Director:
Miyuki Hanawa
Yūsuke Hatano
Mayu Hirotomi
Shinichi Iimura
Keiko Imasato
Liang Peng Li
Shinichiro Minami
Akihide Miya
Tsutomu Miyazawa
Tsuyoshi Moride
Yoshiko Nakajima
Kenichi Ōki
Hiroyuki Okuno
Kazuya Saitō
Konomi Sakurai
Takurō Sakurai
Kei Saotome
Shinichi Shigematsu
Shōsuke Shimizu
Hiroaki Takagi
Nagisa Takahashi
Shōhei Usami
Jōji Yanase
Sound Director: Masanori Tsuchiya
Director of Photography: Daiki Hayama
Manabu Jingūji
Mayumi Kurashima
Licensed by: Seven Seas Entertainment

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