Time Bokan (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2005

What They Say
A laugh-out-loud hilarious adventure from the studio behind Battle of the Planets and Speed Racer!

Guest starring Ken from Gatchaman (Battle of the Planets)!

Who has what it takes to be the baddest of the bad? It’s evil versus evil as teams of bad guys compete to be the meanest villains ever! Watch and laugh as the Dorombo Gang and their Kitchen Robot take on the worst of the worst in a wacky race to be the greatest villains in anime history! The only force that stands in their way are the superheroes of anime. Will the Gatchaman ninja arrive in time to save the day?

The Review!
Bringing out a two episode OVA series that's based on numerous popular 70's series that will never see the light of day over here, Time Bokan is an exercise in pure futility.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The show isn't terribly expansive with its stereo mix here but it's serviceable enough and is problem free. There isn't much in the way of directionality for the mix as it's a rather center channel heavy piece with all the dialogue though the music and the opening from the second episode come across well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language track.

Originally released in 1993, the transfer for this two episode OVA series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Being from 1993 and an OVA, the quality of the material here is really nice and the traditional animation really shines through with its attention to detail and the greater feeling of life to it than a lot of more current digitally animated shows. Colors are bright and vibrant without showing much in the way of blocking, aliasing is fairly minimal as is cross coloration and overall the print is pretty solid. The shows original opening and ending sequences are preserved and translated credits follow the show.

Providing an amusing image for the cover, various villains and good guys are mixed up here with some really good looking artwork with clean lines and bright colors. I particularly like the bottom three characters with how their facial expressions look and just the comedy of it all. Including some of the Gatchman stuff and other characters and you get a good range of characters here. The back cover continues this with a large group shot of women from the show that looks really nice for much the same reason with the more updated and sexier designs and the striking colors. There's a decent enough summary of the premise and listing of the discs features and technical details but overall it's a fairly standard back cover from CPM that has a lot of open space. The reverse side of the cover has a black and white robot schoolgirl image on one side while the other lists the bilingual cast lists and the chapter stops for the two episodes.

The main menu is a simple piece with a bit of animation to it but is pretty pared down here. The left and right side of the menu has various characters from the show raising their arms up and looking towards the center where a strip of the basic menu selections are listed as a the vocal song plays along to its full running time. The layout is pretty standard fare and basically kind of bland looking with a purple background. Access times are nice and fast and the layout easy to navigate. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets fine and played accordingly.

The only extra included here is a brief art gallery done in video form.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One of the fun things with a lot of series that come out is doing some of the research on it to try and find out what you can about it, especially if it's a remake or an sequel to something that's come many years before. Though it often means that you'll never see the original material itself, you can get a feel for a number of shows that you may want to actually find that will never come over and may one day actually be surprised if they do get picked up. Though this is less likely with things from the 70's, it helps expand your knowledge of what's out there and expose you to more interesting material.

Time Bokan's an interesting title in that it's from a popular series that milked a formula really well and then the company that owned it, Tatsunoku, milked it repeatedly with different series afterwards. What we get with Time Bokan is the use of the name of the original series but it's done up as a version of the Wacky Races show over here in that all the villains get together (in groups of three, which is the formula) for a big race and we get all kinds of in-jokes about it. There's some side story at the beginning of it about one of the groups and the one guy who didn't want to get involved since he was just recently married, but the focus is on the race for the most part and all the standard comedy bits from the show being brought up again, such as the characters shooting themselves, racing over banana peels and other simple sight gags. There are likely hundreds of other more detailed in-jokes and gags that make fans of these properties extremely happy, but just like the Wacky Races show, I have no clue what these shows really are like and simply don't get them. And when it comes down to that, you end up simply not caring either and end up watching the clock more than anything else.

So by the second time the second episode comes up which isn't another race episode, you're either completely into it since you know what's going on or you're so out of touch with what's coming across the screen that it makes no sense and other than a couple of basic visual gags that are simple enough to figure out. There's a lot of mixing of Tatsunoko properties going on here and these are the kinds of things that I used to enjoy immensely back in my comic book days when there'd be cross-company specials put out or you had the other kinds of properties being merged together for a special but what ends up hurting Time Bokan so much is that there's simply no context for it for probably 99% of the people buying anime out there today. And since it's hard enough selling a series from the 90's today, selling something from the 70's would be an even more difficult job. So many people today don't even want something that came out two years ago, never mind thirty.

In Summary:
Unfortunately for Time Bokan, there is simply so little to say other than "huh?" or "well, that seemed like it might have been interesting if I had any idea who any of this was" that the viewing experience is not a pleasant one. I'm more than comfortable in jumping into series during the middle or while it's airing and figuring it out as I go along, but to come into a series with the very fan-oriented specials that followed the original series up probably something like fifteen years after they ended is not something that can be easily done unless you've got a real familiarity with this time frame. I've not got that familiarity at all so much of this just fell flat for me.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Mania Grade: D
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: C+
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Central Park Media
MSRP: 19.99
Running time: 50
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Time Bokan