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The Big O: An Anime On DVD.com Recommendation
Paradigm City, a city of amnesia. Forty years ago, a strange happeningknown as the Event occurred, causing everyone in the city to lose all memoriesthey had prior to that time. As a result, modern technology became a mystery. People were forced to rebuild their lives from scratch. However, humans are adaptable creatures. They make do, and go on with life.
Able to learn once again how to produce electricityand operate machinery, humanity continues to survive, living on a day today basis. But despite all of this, one can't help but think there's somethingmissing in this town of forgetfulness, in this town without a past. This is the backdrop to The Big O
, another hit from the studios of Sunrise, Inc.
, which also broughtus Cowboy Bebop
and the MobileSuit Gundam
franchise. Debuting in Japan in 1999 and airing on Cartoon Network
in 2001, the show can now be seen on the pristine DVDformat thanks to the folks at Bandai Entertainment
The story begins with the viewers introducedto Roger Smith, Paradigm City's best Negotiator. He bears a striking resemblanceto Gotham City's Bruce Wayne, down to the mansion, the tricked-out automobileand the ever-so-faithful butler. But unlike the spandex-wearing Dark Knight,Roger Smith exudes class, sporting a double-breasted business suit with slicked-backhair and high-tech gadgets, which includes a Dick Tracy-esque wristwatch. This wristwatch is able to call upon an amazing piece of technology knownas a Megadeus, referred to by Roger as the Big O. Roger Smith is already on a case as the firstepisode begins. He is to handle a hostage negotiation, "a simple routine"as Roger puts it. Of course, just like the show, all is not what it seems,and Roger suddenly finds himself with a quiet, surly android assistant namedR. Dorothy Wayneright. The show, which is episodic yet non-filler, has Rogerhandling different cases throughout each episode. However, the show holdslarger, more complex mysteries at hand. Many questions arise throughoutthe series: What are the motives of the Paradigm Corporation, the ownersof Paradigm City? How is Roger able to control the Megadeus with such skilland ease? Where is the ressurgence of people's memories suddenly comingfrom? And, most importantly, what WAS the Event that eventually wiped outpeople's minds forty years ago?
The series mixes the feel of Issac Asimov's Elijah Bailey
novels and the movies Dark City
and Dick Tracy
, the style of Batman: The Animated Series
, the flair of a James Bond
movie, the staple mecha in thevein of Giant Robo
, the obligatory anime android girl (dressedin a maid's outfit no less), with an intriguing plot rolled across thirteenepisodes. While saying that may cause one to think theshow is completely derivative, The Big O
still manages to stand outas something original amongst the other numerous cookie-cutter anime shows. The characters and mecha, designed by Keiichi Satou (Ninja Resurrection),exude class and style, from the goofy Beck Gold and the beautiful-yet-selfishPatricia "Angel" Lovejoy to the frightening-psychopathic Schwarzwald. Eventhe musical score by Toshihiko Sahashi stands out, mixing blues and symphonicpieces with an opening theme reminiscient of Flash Gordon
The acting here is of high quality in both languages,with Mitsuru Miyamoto voicing the ever-so-cool Roger Smtih, Akiko Yajimaputting on an awesome performance as the android R. Dorothy Wayneright, andEmi Shinohara lending her voice to the angelic Patricia Lovejoy. The dubis no slouch either, as the reliable Animaze pool of notable and fan favoritesDavid Lucas and Wendee Lee give strong performances. But it is Lia Sargentwho steals the show in this dub, which is also arguably her best performanceyet. There's only one complaint that could potentiallyleave a bad taste in one's mouth, which also causes some to stay from thisseries. It is the show's ending, or rather, lack thereof. It ends on themother of all cliffhangers, leaving the viewer dangling for more. Thankfully,with confirmation of a second season on its way, there's no reason not towatch this show now.