Allow me to preface this by saying that, by and large, I am a mecha fan. When it comes to anime, it doesn't get better than robots hitting giant robots, and so most of what I watch is indeed mecha (and I seldom stray out from that). Thus, when I'm using the words 'comparatively,' or 'relatively,' or 'like others,' or anything of that ilk-- you have to understand that this is 99% relating to mecha shows.
Juusoukikou Dancougar Nova's story starts us off by peering into the lives of four very curious individuals; Aoi Hidaka, a racecar driver and a model, complete with pink hair. Kurara Tachibana, a blue-haired police officer who is deadly-efficient at her job. We then see Sakuya Kamon, a homeless guy. Yeah-- he just straight-up lives in a box. Honestly, it was because of Sakuya that I cared to watch Juusoukikou Dancougar Nova at all in the first place. A robot with a homeless guy as a pilot?-- Yeah, I'd watch it. But, back on track, the introductions finalize with Johnny Barnett, a simple salaryman. With such a mis-matched, bizarre crew (each complete with their stock personalities that contrast), the antics were sure to be fun in what story would follow.
But suffice it to say, Dancougar is only 12 episodes long-- and that's bad. I've seen shorts. OVAs-- compared to what I've seen, even the bad ones amidst those, Dancougar fell miserably short. Presentation was jumbled and hasty and while they explained everything fairly well, it just didn't have any pull. It was Monster-Of-The-Week, except instead of this being campy 70's-80's action, this was a bunch of 21st century action with characters who wondered why they were fighting a new robot in a new country every week.
The overlying premise is that Dancougar's namesake, a robot called-- guess it!-- Dancougar, is a 'balancing force.' In a war, it ensures that no one side is unevenly matched from the get-go. The four aforementioned characters are chosen to be its next four pilots, undoubtedly to save the world from imbalanced wars. From here I can only speculate; when Dancougar stomps onto the battlefield, it absolutely ravages the winning side most times; it shreds their forces and more or less decides the war then and there, though there were one or two episodes that excluded themselves from this formulaic progression. The big problem here isn't the Monster-Of-The-Week formula. The problem is that this doesn't make any sense whatsoever. I haven't seen any 70's-80's stuff from front to back, but I understand the idea: aliens are bad, hit them with a super robot. It should be that simple if that's the formula you're going to use. Dancougar instead tries to make it some weird political motive that makes no sense. If they're there to 'balance' war, wouldn't they not want to absolutely and utterly render impotent one side's fighting ability? In fact, would they simply want to reinforce the other side-- and ideally not with a robot of immeasurable, unspeakable power?
Oh, but the aliens come later and it turns out they want to destroy the world. Why didn't we just start right into that, again?
From me, the story gets a 4. I mean, it went out of its way to try something different, and the slight twists at the end are kind of cool. But the loose ends remain fairly loose and untied, and the end starts to raise more questions than it answers; what's more than that is there are some questions that just never get even an allusion to an answer. They're there because, hey, why not create in-controversy by not solving mysteries we're clearly dangling in the viewers' faces?
Well, Dancougar had some really solid animation. It was fluid, genuine, entertaining mecha-beating-mecha action. Things were nice, the characters were consistent in movement. There were two episodes-- numerically, 10 and 11 if I recall correctly-- that seemed to suffer budget constraints, however. All dialogue was done in this bizarre powerpoint fashion, wherein characters' faces would appear close-up and talk, while the scene remained darkened behind their (admittedly pretty) mugs. It was annoying-- but, as aforementioned, it persisted for two episodes. The last episode was free of this strange behavior.
It's 7. I do believe this is an Obari work, so it's a pretty mech with attractive, buxom ladies. Fans of mecha should recognize those as signature traits of Obari's anime.
There's nothing terribly wrong with the sound, either, but it's not overtly remarkable; however, Senri Manaka's Tori no Uta is a very, very catchy opening in my opinion, and the Dancougar's insert theme (it's just titled Main Theme) is also a pretty catchy song. The other tracks pass as quickly from the mind as they do from the anime; nothing sticks out as 'bad,' but there are a few ups and for that the sound scores a 7.
The story transgression, I might forgive, if the sheer potential of these weird characters had been fully exercised; unfortunately, most episodes are clogged up with yet another boring and predictable (albeit pretty) fight involved Dancougar and some clunky, unfortunate fop who happened to enlist in the army in the wrong generation. Sakuya gets a number of fairly funny quotes, and Kurara is explored a little. Sakuya explains his situation a bit, but for the most part Aoi and Johnny-- who have arguably compelling personalities-- are given very little exploratory time. The supporting cast gets the same stick-- in particular, there is a character who is introduced as very mysterious and foreboding but gets zero exploration as to why he is mysterious or foreboding. Fans of Choujuu Kishin Dancougar are sure to have a few questions of their own about him... but as far as my speculation stretches, he's just sort of there. Fascinating. They could have had a lot to say about him...
The characters, really, are great. You have a homeless hot-blood, a salaryman, a model/racecar driver, and a trigger-happy cool-headed cop girl. In any other set-up this would be great; however, they try to balance an unwieldy mix of funny characters, Monster-of-the-Week antics and some sort of 'plot.' A really shaky, uncertain plot.
I would rate the characters a 10/10 were they backed by a reasonable plot. Unfortunately, time that could be taken to make them funnier, or more appealing, isn't necessarily taken to its full extent. For this, I justify a 7.
It's not that I really hate Juusoukikou Dancougar Nova or what it represents. I'm admittedly not so much a fan of straight-action, as I prefer healthy doses of plot and characterization, but what I'm not a fan of is an empty promise. Dancougar delivers those in heaping helpings, apparently all-too-happy to watch fans like me writhe in discontent as we see the timer ticking ever downward as these characters undergo few changes if any, the plot become more convoluted and senseless, and the questions generated be left alone completely. Dancougar felt like one big broken promise, and that's exactly what I feel it was; while the animation was good and the few good laughs diverted my attention, it ultimately failed to deliver what I wanted. That being said, it was a giant robot, and it had many fights and many weapons with which to carry out the fights, all of which were awesome. It had fun characters who ultimately gave the show any redeeming factor. But, fanciful weapons and fights will not save an anime that promised interesting characters and plot developments. It would save an anime that promised weapons and fights, and especially one that didn't promise they'd be fanciful. Hell, it'd be fine if they promised a comedy, as their cast is more than up to the task. But they immediately inundate viewers with political yammering and a whole bunch of 'moral quandary' (which gets forgotten pretty quickly), and then they just never follow up on it because aliens.
Juusoukikou Dancougar Nova is a novelty watch-- at 12 episodes, it's honestly a good way to waste an evening if you feel you must, and there are worse ways to do it. But when action isn't happening in Dancougar, not much else is-- and if robots hitting robots just doesn't appeal to you, or fun filler antics don't rub you the right way, then you might as well pass this one by.
This series is a remake of an older series with the same name. Beyond some similarities to the way the mechas and the characters look, there are practically no ties between them. Which is a good thing since the original was quite long and boring. Both a tribute and a parody to the old style mecha shows, such as Getta 3 and Voltes V, the remake is improved in all sections and provides up-to-date entertainment for the hardcore mecha fans.
ART SECTION: 8/10 [The old meets the new.]
General Artwork & Backgrounds 3/4: As a tribute series, Dancougar Nova mixes the action and plot elements of old typical mecha series. You’ll see classic mecha attacks, such as rocket punches, drills and magic swords. But there are no dull hand-drawn special effects, as you remember in the 70’s. Slick/stylish/computer generated special effects run through the screen all the time. They are not great or very realistic but get the job done.
Character Figures 2/2: The character figures are in the most part, tributes to the original cast. Since 20 years have passed, you can of course expect different mannerisms. They look more stylized, sexual and rebellious than those idealistic boy scouts of the 80’s. They wear trendy cloths, detailed battle suits and fetish uniforms that attract the eye. Several comical anime elements (such as sweat drops) and fan service moments (such as subtle erotic poses and bath scenes) make them pleasing to the eye, even when they just goggle up screen time.
Animation 1/2: The way everything moves is not very realistic. You can easily find crude movements, silly-looking explosions and low frame rates during fast movement. Without being anything awesome, fans of the genre will still like it.
Lightning/ Visual Effects 2/2: Colors and special effects are antithetic and too bright, a thing that is overdone but is all the same needed in the whole atmosphere of this intentionally shallow series. Visuals are fake but great and fitting for this kind of show.
SOUND SECTION: 7/10 [Mecka stuff and J-pop beats.]
Analysis: Voice Acting 2/3, Music Themes 3/4, Sound Effects 2/3
The musical themes are well made when it comes to exciting and arousing technology-loving otakus. Voice acting and sound effects are otherwise lukewarm. It is mostly the comical in-jokes about mecha stereotypes that win the show.
STORY SECTION: 7/10 [The cliché mecha marries the world as we know it.]
Premise 2/2: The original series was just generic evil invading aliens versus generic good defending humans. The remake is about greedy rich human countries versus poor human countries, full of natural resources. This makes the story far more realistic. They even mention of a country named Ameria, whose wars for natural resources were masked as wars against terrorism and which ironically led to the spreading of terrorism worldwide. Does this strike a bell? Perhaps having all the invading countries talking big about “might is right” and of “our great nation is sent by God to give justice to the world” while bombing unarmed civilians will remind you of something. Anyway, the story is very reminiscent of the warring state of today. And even gets a bit deep towards the end when alien observers come to the conclusion that humans are war-like and will bring chaos to the galaxy if they continue to evolve and spread amongst the stars. It is quite nice for an otherwise silly series.
Pasing 2/2: Although no episodes are stand-alones, the scenario unfolds rather slow. Just 30 seconds in every episode actually move the story forward. Still, the continual weapon upgrades, the ecchi moments, the character coloring and the weird mysteries hardly make you realize that. Don’t forget that the series is just 12 episodes; a really short duration that leaves no dead time for fillers and pointless dialogues to crawl through.
Complexity 1/2: Besides the several comical and fan service moments, each major character has a vague backdrop story that helps to flesh out a bit in the viewer’s eyes. Nothing great but it is better than nothing.
Plausibility 1/2: Super robot powers never were convincing. But the realistic depiction of the world as it is today gives some credit to the show.
Conclusion 1/2: Rushed and rather simple but an ending nonetheless. A sequel can pop up anytime, as it hardly feels solid.
CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10 [Saving the world with bouncing tits.]
Analysis: Presence 1/2, Personality 1/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 1/2, Catharsis 1/2
As far as personality and behavior goes, the entire cast is pretty generic stuff you can easily find in almost all mecha and ecchi series. It’s the parody of the mecha formula that makes them a bit better than average.
VALUE SECTION: 3/10 [More than meets the eye.]
Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 1/3, Memorability 2/4
It has no historical value but as long as you are a mecha fan, you will probably love it enough to watch it again. It’s short, it’s funny, it is more that the same old stuff. If viewed as a typical mecha series though, small chance you will give a dime about it; the age of combining robots and voice-activated special attacks is over for the mecha genre. If again seen as a tribute or as a comedy, it’s a blast! And even has some nice ideas and fan service moments to boot.
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 6/10 [Clichéd but rocking!]
Although I am not a mecha fan, it was very pleasing. Short duration, fast battles, many jokes about sex and mecha. Quite enjoyable, even without a friend to watch it with. It is not a masterpiece or even close to one but, hey, it was a very good choice to kill some free time.
The accused is found … GUILTY! … For appealing to the older members’ emotions too much.
Getter Robo, Mazinger, Voltron. Famous old mecha series.
Gundam Wing & Gundam 00. More mecha that deal with the eradication of war through… more war.
Gekiganger 3. a small but awesome mecha tribute as well.
Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann. The best idealistic mecha series I know of. If you don’t like this one, you simply don’t like the old mecha formula in general.