Shelf Life
8 Man After

by Paul Jensen,

I'm feeling a little sentimental as Assassination Classroom enters its final run of episodes. I've covered the show for four out of my eight seasons of simulcast episode reviews, which means that I've spent about half of my career at ANN writing about Koro Sensei and company. The show has had its ups and downs from season to season, but it's been on a good run lately and I'll be just a bit sad to see it go. Of course, one of the nice things about anime is that there's always a new series to look forward to. Welcome to Shelf Life.

Jump to this week's review:
8 Man After

On Shelves This Week

And Yet the Town Moves - Complete Collection BD
Sentai - 300 min - Sub - MSRP $59.98
Currently cheapest at: $34.99 Amazon

Synopsis: Mystery-loving oddball Hotori and her friends deal with everyday problems like part-time jobs and romantic hijinks, along with some more unusual issues like ghosts and aliens.

Extra: This show got a Shelf Life review a few years back when it came out on DVD, and you can stream it on The Anime Network. I absolutely love the manga it's based on, and I'd recommend giving it a look if you enjoy slice of life shows that mix in some inspired moments of absurdity here and there.

Cross Ange: Rondo of Angel and Dragon - Collection 1 BD, DVD
Sentai - 300 min - Hyb - MSRP $69.98|$59.98
Currently cheapest at: $37.99 Amazon|$34.99 Amazon

Synopsis: Betrayed by her family and sent to the front lines of a war against invading dragons, former princess Ange fights to survive and reclaim her lost power.

Extra: Oh boy, I still remember the firestorm this series stirred up when it first aired. You'll find episode reviews here, and it's streaming on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and The Anime Network.

Dino Mech Gaiking - The Complete Original TV Series DVD
Eastern Star - 1000 min - Sub - MSRP $59.95
Currently cheapest at: $38.97 Right Stuf

Synopsis: When an alien race invades the Earth, humanity's survival depends on the crew of the Daiku Maryu and the giant robot Gaiking.

Extra: As is often the case with these older shows, we don't have any reviews at the moment. While this series doesn't seem to be available from any of the usual streaming sources, you can find its 2005 remake on Hulu.

Nisekoi 2 - Part 1 BD
Aniplex - 144 min - Sub - MSRP $74.98
Currently cheapest at: $59.98 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Raku and Chitoge continue their fake relationship in order to keep their families from feuding, but things between them start to change when Chitoge realizes that her feelings for Raku might just be real.

Extra: I watched the first season of Nisekoi back in 2014, but I never got around to watching this sequel. We've got episode reviews here, and the show's available streaming on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and the Aniplex Channel.

Shelf Life Reviews

Shelf Worthy
Nothing this week.
8 Man After
Nothing this week.

We've really been all over the timeline of anime history in the review section these last few weeks. Time to check another decade off the list with the 1993 OVA 8 Man After.

We've seen the entertainment industry resurrect a lot of older franchises with new sequels recently, but reboots are hardly a new thing. Way back in 1993, 8 Man After offered a new take on the original 1960s series. It kept the idea of a cyborg crime-fighter (along with the basic look of its titular hero), but dropped the hero in question into a more serious storyline. Since this OVA recently reappeared in the US as a DVD release from Discotek, we can now take a look at what reboots looked like a few decades ago.

8 Man After treats the original series as a backstory of sorts. It suggests that Azuma, the first person to become 8 Man, disappeared and left behind a city full of violence and corruption. Private detective Hazama ends up digging too deep into that corruption, becoming mortally wounded by a cyborg criminal while searching for a scientist who stole some advanced technology. Hazama's mind is transferred into the mechanical body of 8 Man, and he uses his newfound strength and speed to take on the city's criminal underworld.

If you've watched at least a few 1980s sci-fi movies like The Terminator or the original RoboCop, then the overall tone of this OVA will feel very familiar. It's dark, gritty, and violent, with good but damaged characters trying to survive in a world where the odds are stacked against them. While that makes it significantly different from the more upbeat original, this sequel does go out of its way to acknowledge its roots. Several characters are carried over, with everyone from 8 Man's love interest Sachiko to city police chief Tanaka playing a part in the story. I'm not familiar enough with the original 8 Man to have a strong opinion on 8 Man After's worthiness as a sequel, but it does at least seem interested in acknowledging its predecessor.

Judged on its own merits, 8 Man After's biggest problem stems from its limited running time. Tasked with telling a complete story in just four episodes, it only has so much time to devote to character development. This makes for fairly weak chemistry within the core cast, and the romantic relationship between Hazama and Sachiko is particularly hard to buy. Apart from being shot at by the same people, they never really seem to have any common ground from which a relationship might bloom. A few characters manage to forge convincing emotional connections with one another, but most interactions serve more to drive the plot forward than they do to make you care about the people involved.

On the other hand, the OVA format also makes for a tightly focused plot. There's very little filler here, just a decently paced story about a guy getting turned into a cyborg and fighting a bunch of villains. Even if I never found myself liking Hazama all that much, the events that unfolded around him were compelling enough to hold my interest. Part of that comes down to 8 Man After's atmosphere, with its moody dialogue and gritty industrial setting matching up well to its premise and themes. The show's world is certainly an interesting one, with a very Japanese robot hero fighting crime in a city that feels surprisingly American. Heck, one plot point even involves a professional football game. You don't see that every day in anime.

The animation in 8 Man After is as much a product of its time as any other part of the show, and the visuals don't always hold up well. Characters' faces go off model here and there, action scenes tend to be underwhelming, and the moody gray color palette gets old after a while. The good news is that there are some cool designs for the bad guys' cyborg limbs, and anything mechanical tends to be presented with a generous amount of detail. On the audio front, it's worth noting that this is the first time this OVA has been available with Japanese audio in the US. It came out as a dub-only release way back in 2001, and that English audio track isn't the greatest. I'm normally a proponent of the “watch it however you want” approach, but you'll definitely want to stick with the original Japanese in this case.

If you like your science fiction grim and grumpy, then 8 Man After is probably worth a look. Its tone and atmosphere are very much on the mark, and it does feature a few interesting thoughts on the old “half man, half machine” premise. You don't necessarily need to be familiar with the original 8 Man to get something out of it, but I imagine it'd be of more interest to fans of the original than complete newcomers. While I'm not in a big hurry to watch it again, I'm glad it's out there as an example of its particular style.

That wraps up the review section for this week. Thanks for reading!

This week's shelves are from Daakkuu Sama:

"I've been shown my collection one time on the past at ANN. I really like Anime, Manga, J-drama and Video games. As you can see, I have only a few Anime on my collection. The main reason for that, that is the most anime I like are from the 90's and don't have a proper licence in Eurupe. Some of them Include G Gundam (my favourite anime ever), Orphen, Magic Knight Rayearh and Captain Harlock 1978.

When it comes to gaming, I have pretty nice collection. I have all the "Tales of" series games that came out on PS3 (Include Vespiria on Japanese) and five Japanese imported games Like Sengoku Basara 4, Arslan Musou, J Stars and The recent Jojo's game.

Although you may see I have a lot of Shojo Manga (almost an entire shelf just for Shojo) I'm a man."

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It looks like you and I own the same number of volumes of My Love Story. I love all the art on the walls, thanks for sharing!

If you're looking to show off your own anime collection to the world, you've come to the right place. Just send me your photos at [email protected]!

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