What They Say
14-year-old Kouichi Hayase is a quiet student who is constantly harassed by the class bullies while secretly fantasizing about someday becoming a "hero of justice." His mediocre life takes a dramatic turn when he happens upon an accident and encounters a gigantic robot called LINEBARREL, as well as a beautiful girl Emi Kizaki who seems to have lost her memory.
Linebarrels of Iron is the latest flashy show to come from Studio GONZO that is streaming worldwide shortly after it airs in Japan. The opening episode is quite typical of many similar shows, featuring a bit of mystery and intrigue with the characters, a typical anime hero, giant robot fights and plenty of technobabble that makes little sense at this stage.
The show opens with a boy called Kouchi getting bullied by a group of school kids, only to be rescued by his friend Risuka. Despite her interjections, Kouchi ensures her, and his other friend Yajima who also offers support, that one day he will overcome the bullies and have them bow down to him. In his heart he knows he is special and has some power, and that one day it will awaken.
On his way to buy some curry bread for the bullies, Kouchi cuts through the Shrine Forest, where a mysterious object crashes to Earth. Onlookers identify the giant robot as a LINEBARREL, and two different groups send out ARMA units (they would be more giant robots) to retrieve it. Kouchi searches the crash site for his phone, but true to cliché, only finds a naked girl who has temporarily lost her memory. He carries her back and runs into Yajima again, who tells them both to return to school with him.
As the city is evacuated, fighting breaks out between the opposing forces and Yajima is forced to stop a wall falling on Kouchi and the girl as the buildings crumble around them. Kouchi is sick of being rescued by his friends, and in his intense moment of anger, smashes his fist through the wall. Watching it disintegrate, the girl suddenly remembers her name, Emi Kizaki, and she asks Kouchi to fight with her, by summoning the LINEBARREL. By pressing her chest, the giant robot appears and he jumps in with Emi to pilot, leaving Yajima looking on in amazement. Kouchi fights Commander Katou’s forces, and their leader on the ground, Sawatari, is told to retreat. Kouchi is ecstatic to have awakened his power, but there’s a twist in the tale as Emi tells him something rather stunning.
For a first episode, Linebarrels does a good job of introducing the premise of the show, setting up a few ongoing threads to hook you in, and remaining fairly entertaining throughout. Like many giant robot shows at the start, its biggest drawback is that it is predictable and full of several clichés that mean so far, it doesn’t stand out that much from other shows that have been around in the past few years. It has the weak protagonist who wants to overcome his personal deficiencies, the awakening of power, a mysterious girl who loses her memory (and ends up naked), supportive friends, mysterious groups trying to track the robot down, and so we could go on.
Having said that, it does what it does pretty well. Kouchi isn’t the most immediately likeable character, especially how he gives in to the bullies and comes off as a bit of a wimp, but he grows into his role with his belief that there is more to come from him. His friends, Risuka and Yajima, look like they may provide him with some good support, even though Yajima was completely bemused by everything. Emi is much of an unknown, as is Commander Katou and his forces, but there’s definitely more to come from all of them. With a few other hooks, such as Emi’s remarks at the end, the show looks like it could end up being an enjoyable watch.
It’s not the most original and it’s quite predictable in its first episode, but with a decent story and some good, if short, giant robot battles, Linebarrels of Iron gets off to a fairly good start with enough hooks that give belief this could turn into an enjoyable show, as long as it doesn’t take too long to explain some of the things that crop up in this opener. It definitely left me looking forward to more.
Japanese Language, English Subtitles
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