Look deep inside your hearts and answer honestly. Every time you hear a famous franchise of a favorite videogame or comic book becoming cartoon or anime, what crosses your mind?
a) This will be epic
b) This will be shit
As sad as it is, chances are the second option is the proper one to have in mind. Face it, adaptations are cash cows. Hardly as good as the original and hardly stand as average if seen as stand alones. The producers just stick a famous name in the label and then smirk as they see the millions of fans buying it without even caring what it’s all about. Iron Man is no exception. In fact, it’s amongst the best examples, topped only by the adaptations of Devil May Cry, Crono Trigger OVA and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles OVA.
Let’s check out the fan bait a bit more. This anime is of course based on a famous Marvel superhero. But wait, that is not the whole story. You know how it is with superheroes, every 5 years or so they get a reboot or a spin-off. This version in particular is based on the two American movies that came out between 2008 and 2010. In that version of the same story, Tony Stark is a party animal who hits on chicks in daylight and runs with his ultra lux car in a highway he booked just to be empty for him, while showing the middle finger to the authorities as he passes by at 4 miles per second. And he is such a cocky bastard that he is not even afraid to reveal on public his secret identity.
… Hm, that’s not the Stark I grew up with.
Anyways, on this alternative dimension of the multiverse Tony was too busy saving his ass and his company every two days while fending off the military and random terrorists who want to steal his super-awesome-special suit technology. He was no hero of America, protecting it from global threats. This is where the anime comes in to show this aspect.
The anime works as sequel to the movies and Stark now speaks Japanese (amongst the other one trillion things he can do while showing the middle finger to Einstein and seducing his underage granddaughter). So he goes to Japan where he now faces yet another terrorist group who got high on too much high-tech gizmos and wants to take over the world (boy, I didn’t see that coming). Its name is Zodiac.
Now all the fans of the comic book will probably waste several hours trying to remember who this Zodiac is and even scroll through their mountains of collectible issues. But to no avail as … Zodiac is not an Iron Man adversary! It’s an anime-only random organization, made on the run to excuse all the mess in the story. And yes, there are four different Zodiac teams in the Marvel universe but none of them are THIS bunch.
So what you basically have here is a Stark who reminds you very little of the classical one, speaking Japanese, fighting some never-before-seen villains. Talk about going liberal with the story hm? Because the fans of the original Iron Man will most likely expect something like Ultimo or Titanium Man, established and recurring villains to take on the hero. But noooo, all they get is this nothing-in-common-with-known Zodiac dudes. Heck, the only famous character in this show is Wolverine, who is seen only in one episode as a cross-over (American comics love this shit). And he was just shown there only to foreshadow his appearance on the following anime starring him; thus it’s just another cheap way to build hype.
But maybe I am stuck too much on how the classic image is. I should try to see this as a whole different story and not by force a remake. So what if it’s called Iron Man and has Tony Stark in a mecha, fighting other mechas? It’s just a coincidence. I mean, there is that old anime Tetsoujin 28 which is also translated as Iron Man. Should I also try to compare that one to this because they are synonyms? Heck no, I will just compare this anime to the movies, who are part of the same continuity. Yes, that is what I will do. I will place the movies on the left and the anime on the right and stare at them for a few minutes. So what are my impressions now?
IT FRAKKIN SUCKS !!!
Seriously, how much trolling was invested in this piece of turd? If it’s supposed to be a sequel to the movies then why in blazes is Stark acting totally different??? Why is he not handing over Rolex to random chicks he wants to bang, why is he not full of cocky one-liners, why is he not drunk half of the time, why is he not mocking the authorities with an ironic smirk? All you see him do is talking seriously, saving random nobodies from evil robots and then fighting random robots with zero characterization. Where is this Stark I needed months to get used to? Did he got all serious and entered the boy scouts? Even if he did, why is he speaking Japanese in such an out of character way? How was the transition from cocky American-speaking asshole to yasashi Japanese-speaking hero took place? Out of screen? Am I supposed to just accept that?
That aside, who are these Zodiac stunts? Why ain’t they fighting the Avengers? They hardly have any personality other than being faceless goons with God syndrome blowing shit up. Heck, almost all of them are nothing but monsters of the week, killed in the same episode they appear in. As for their secret leader, come on, how hard is it to tell who he is? It is damn obvious!
And the support characters. What kind of boring puppets are they? It’s just pretty chicks making questions in order to find out poorly handled hidden information and some army guy antagonizing indirectly Stark in his own suit. Didn’t we have War Machine for that? Why replace an established character (and Stark’s random chick harem) with new characters that have zero interest? Totally bogus.
As if characterization ain’t bad enough, the stupid producers decided to make it even worse with lifeless animation. The drawings all look great as frozen panels but when they move or talk they feel completely fake or bored to even speak. You literally fall asleep watching them talk and move.
The action scenes look a bit better, with lots of explosions and electromagnetic pulses and shit bursting out of chests and hands all the time. They are otherwise also boring as their choreography is simple and most of the time it’s about imba Iron Man using a bigger beam that the enemy. The CGI is also not the most beautiful thing to expect from a 2010 production, especially if you have the action scenes of the live-action movies in mind. Therefore the artwork may be very good but the animation is baaaad.
Onwards with the music. Voice acting is just average. There is nothing standing out in the dialogues that most of the time is just shounen-like repeating idealisms and pseudo-science. Also, everyone talks so seriously all the time that becomes tiresome early on and without something worthwhile coming out of their mouths, I didn’t give a damn after a while. As for the music score, as a soundtrack it may be good to listen to. Lots of electric guitar and bass there, making an average to good rock show. Its application on the show however is damn lame. Seriously, they just throw in a song playing in the background and in the foreground random things happen. There is no uniformity between what happens and what is heard playing as music in the back, making it very hard to get into the mood of the story.
To make a synopsis, the story is as if it was written for Adam West’s The Batman, the characters are too boring, the animation is lifeless, the music unfitting to the action and there is little to no real connection with the movies or Iron Man as we know and love … in any continuity. This is yet another poorly made adaptation that tries to milk the anime fans without really offering what they promised.
You want a dude in a mecha suit shooting chest beams? Go watch Tekkaman Blade, a much older yet far more exciting anime. Or Soul Taker; that is some mindfuck. Or Guyver; childish in concept but very gorish at times. Heck, go for Tetsuo Iron Man. It has nothing to do with mecha battles and it’s even black and white, but it’s also a million times more exciting that this synonym. Don’t waste you money or bandwidth on this turd just because it says Iron Man on the label. You will be trolled hard if you do.
Onwards to Wolverine. Let’s see how much fail with that be.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 4/10
General Artwork 0/2 (looks lifeless)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (basic but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 0/2 (crude)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Voice Acting 1/3 (lifeless)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 2/10
Premise 1/2 (typical)
Pacing 0/2 (dull)
Complexity 0/2 (none)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 2/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 0/2 (robotic and out of character)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 0/2 (messy)
Catharsis 0/2 (messy)
VALUE SECTION: 1/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 0/3 (no reason to rewatch it)
Memorability 1/4 (no reason to remember it)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10
Art 0/1 (looks lifeless)
Sound 1/2 (sounds ok)
Story 0/3 (generic)
Characters 0/4 (robots)