Kishin Corps: Alien Defender Geo-Armor -

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: C
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 34.98
  • Running time: 240
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kishin Corps: Alien Defender Geo-Armor

Kishin Corps: Alien Defender Geo-Armor

By Chris Beveridge     July 10, 2001
Release Date: July 10, 2001

Kishin Corps: Alien Defender Geo-Armor
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
October 1941, as the second World War threatens to destroy the civilized world, an unforeseen complication suddenly occurs. An alien invasion! Despite the sudden appearance of these extraterrestrial aggressors, the Axis and Allies continue their destructive conflict. Only the Kishin Corps and their giant Geo-Armor Robots (a.k.a.: Kishin), developed from a captured alien robot soldier, stand between the Earth and total annihilation!
A teenager, named Taishi, suddenly finds himself at the center of a struggle over a mysterious black attaché case entrusted to him by his father, Professor Tokamura. The case contains the controlling mechanism for one of the giant Geo-Armor Robots, and the Japanese Kanto Army, the alien invaders, and the Kishin Corps all want to recover the device! Between the spies, the armies, the aliens, and the Giant Robots, Taishi is in for an epic adventure - if he can survive it!

The Review!
Geo Armor, or as known in its original US release as Kishin Corps, or in its original Japanese release as Kishin Heidan, is a tale spun in a format that I really enjoy. The alternative history style. Over the years I've enjoyed many tales of a rewritten history by the likes of Harry Turtledove and other SF authors, but it's not all that often we see one done in anime form. Kishin Corps was also one of the very earliest batch of Pioneer releases in the US, which I always remember fondly as being top of the line laserdiscs.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. One of the big pluses in Kishin Corps favor is the fact that the score for the movie was done by the Shinsei Japanese Symphony. The score is one of my big attractions to this show, with its wide diversity and the way it really does fill the entire forward soundstage. The dialogue throughout the show is well placed, though there's really little in the way of serious directionality. Dialogue was clear and there were no noticeable dropouts. I spot checked the English track (which has a good solid early Pioneer dub on it) and noted no issues.

There's good and bad in here. The good is that the colors look fantastic, the darks look nice and solid and there's little in the way of line noise outside of a few camera pans. The bad is in the large amount of rainbows throughout all seven episodes. Some section make out better than others with none showing at all, but by and large, there's a lot of rainbows here, coming close to early Trigun level in some episodes. This causes a few problems in some scenes, particularly where the characters are small and in the background, where their heads (which were already sparsely animated) tend to look a bit blockier and less distinct). While they didn't ruin my enjoyment of the show, it did take away from my concentration on the content itself.

Being a bit different, and making the package stand out nicely, the double alpha (woo!) keepcase is of the bronze colored variety, which with the artwork used, really brings the colors out and makes it all noticeable. The front cover has some nice images of the Kishin armor, while the back cover provides some character shots, a summary of the story and the episode listings. The insert gives some more character animation artwork with all the chapter stops, while the discs themselves are silkscreened with nice images of the Kishin as well.

The menu screens, for what little there is on the two discs, are pretty simple with little to no motion and just the main theme playing in the background. On the plus side, the access times are nice and fast and the layout is easy to navigate.

There's two extras on the second disc, one of which is the six screen design/layout of a couple of the Kishin armors. The other is a 48 page image gallery, showing design concept artwork and completed artwork. My disappointment was that the laserdisc covers weren't provided as seen in the US.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I have to admit to a real passion for this show, which is likely to be nostalgia induced. Kishin Corps, as mentioned, was one of those title that came out back when Pioneer was doing laserdisc bilingual releases and VHS was "well, we'll do that down the road I guess". The passion and love for the laserdisc fan was strong with each release, and that still reaches me when I pick up the DVD re-releases.

In most cases, it's been years since I've last had the time to watch the shows. So it's essentially rediscovering a lost gem. Kishin was definitely this, bringing me back to a time when new anime wasn't just a rehash of something else I had already seen. This show even within the anime industry is something we don't see often. A tale set in 1941, with the war between the Axis and Allies going strong, but also going in a completely new tangent with the introduction of a bizarre alien race whose goals are never revealed. They simply serve as boogeymen to give the good guys all the more reason to fight.

There's also a new group thrown into the mix, which is the Kishin Corps. The Corps. is made up of people from various Allied countries that have used the knowledge gained in the war and in dealing with the alien technology to build crude "steampunk" styled giant robots. The Nazi's, who make more major appearances as the series progresses, are building their own robots, but require a unit that came from the aliens that makes everything function perfectly smoothly.

This device, after the eerie first 10 minutes, resides in the hands of a young boy named Taishi. Taishi was given the device by his father as the aliens and the Kanto Army had arrived to relinquish it from him while taking the train to a presumably safer spot with his family. The boys parents are quickly eliminated, and after a panicked encounter with the Kishin Corps, finds himself becoming an integral part of their fight against the enemies.

Taishi's involvement in the Kishin Corps comes at the expense of a friendship with Maria Braun, a woman who helped him through his recovery after the train incident. When she visits him several months later, it's only to eventually be moved out of the country by Kishin operatives, which leaves Taishi open to Maria's twin sister Eva to come and swipe the all important control unit. Eva, of course, is working with the Kanto Army to build their own Kishin armor.

The show was released back in the early 90's as a seven episode OVA series. To make it even more odd, the first OVA was just under an hour long, with the remaining six being a half hour each. Hour long OVA's are all but dead these days, but this OVA series has a great sense of style and animation to it. It's done along non-standard lines, which to those who are only used to how AIC does their Tenchi and El-Hazard derived animation these days, may be a bit of a surprise. The characters are fairly unique looking and are all well done for the intended style.

The animation itself is generally very fluid. The look of the show is also pretty consistent for the time period as well as meshing in the alien bits and the giant robots. When we actually see the alien technology, it looks quite different from anything else in the show. The aliens themselves are also very interesting in their design and their presentation. When we first see them attacking the train, they simply drop in from the sky with their machine guns blazing away. Their motions are very fluid, almost like a mix of water and rubber. The lack of individuality gives them an even creepier feel, and that's without adding in the single eye and its laser pointing beam.

I'm not sure how well Kishin Corps will go over with today's fandom. It's based on a novel, it's fairly self contained and it's a complete story. There's many things left unresolved or unsaid, making this more of a story in the middle of a larger story. But it's definitely got its own flair and sense of style. And honestly, getting four full hours of animation on two discs for 34.95$ list isn't something to sneeze at. Pioneer has had a lot of great gems in their first domestic releases, and being one who enjoyed them the first time, I'm enjoying them the second time around even more. Recommended.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Mecha Design Gallery,Image Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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