Daisuke Aurora’s a lanky blond-haired fellow with an easy smile and a knack for being able to fall asleep on any soft horizontal surface. His partner, J, is an android, a synthetic creation somewhere between John Connor’s hacked T-800 and the robot detective R. Daneel Olivaw in Isaac Asimov’s Robot stories. They’re detectives, sort of — partners in a new experimental law-enforcement program where human officers are paired with androids, each filling in where the other falls short.
Even if they were both human, they couldn’t be less alike. A good day for Daisuke means hanging out with the girls down in the sleazy part of town, slacking off on typing up his progress reports, and sleeping in as late as humanly possible. J, on the other hand, was programmed to be a dyed-blue-in-the-wool cop, something that just makes Daisuke roll his eyes at first. Then they go outside and pound the pavement (in J’s case, it’s quite literal), and the underworld of the city-state of Judeau trembles.
With a story summary like that, I’m actually rather surprised Guy J turned out to be as good as it was. Where it starts out — buddy cops, near-future quasi-dystopia, etc. — isn’t also where it ends up, because the folks who put it together ensured that everything unfolds in a strongly character-driven fashion. Motives are important. People and their personality quirks get the attention they deserve. I was actually reminded of another, more recent show, Darker than Black, where the premise was simply a springboard off which we were bounced to bigger and greater things. Read more
Call it CLAMP: The Remix. Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE is one part original adventure and one part spirited romp through the gallery of CLAMP’s characters that have accumulated over the past two decades. You don’t need to be a CLAMPophile to follow along, but a) it makes some of the plot transitions a little less jarring and arbitrary, and b) you can play spot-the-cameo and put one over your less clued-in friends.
The most crucial characters in Tsubasa are lifted straight from Cardcaptor Sakura: Sakura herself and Syaoran, albeit older than they were in that series and placed in a completely different setting. She is a princess, he the son of a prominent archaeologist, and they live in a desertlike land entirely different from the original Cardcaptor world (and, for that matter, from our world as well). One day they’re inside one of Syaoran’s father’s excavations when there’s a curious supernatural accident: Sakura’s memories are stripped from her, transformed into a flurry of feathers, and scattered across any number of different worlds. The two of them must now leap from world to world to reclaim what she has lost. Read more
Burst Angel is aptly named: the girls look great, but the story pops like stale gum. It’s a chicks-with-guns action vehicle bolted together out of parts recycled from a dozen other places — the kind of show you watch in the background while doing something else, because the more attention you give to it the less you get back.
Call it another “mid-Pacific” production — a work calculated to appeal as much to the export market for anime, maybe even more so than the domestic market. The problem is such projects often end up being terribly bland, a mixture of cynical second-guesses about what’ll appeal to a demographic instead of a story with confidence in its own narrative.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d think Angel was assembled from notes left behind by someone who never lived to see the project completed. But this wasn’t a salvage job, and that makes it all the more depressing. Ugetsu Hakua (of Tower of Druaga fame) contributed classy-looking character designs, and veteran mecha designer Koichi Ohata (Gunbuster, Blue Gender) took the director’s chair and added some equally striking 3D CGI machinery to tear things up. All they forgot was a screenwriter, and a tale worth spinning. Read more