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SUPER ROBOT WARS: ORIGINAL GENERATION – THE ANIMATION (J!-ENT ANIME DVD REVIEW)

May 19, 2008 by  



“For mecha fans, the ‘SUPER ROBOT WARS’ video games have been a staple for mecha hobbyists and mecha video game fans for 17 years. Having only been released in Japan on video game consoles and drama CD’s, the SRW series gets animated and ‘SUPER ROBOT WARS: ORIGINAL GENERATION’ showcases awesome mecha battles and mecha designs that make the series so popular. Action-packed and all out mecha eye candy!”

DVD INFORMATION:

DVD TITLE: SUPER ROBOT WARS: ORIGINAL GENERATION – THE ANIMATION

DURATION: Approx. 85 Minutes (Disc 1), Approx. 58 minutes (Disc 2)

DVD INFORMATION: COLOR/NTSC / Japanese Audio (Dolby Digital 5.1 ch and Dolby Digital Stereo / English subtitles, 16:9LB (except on some bonus content)

CATALOG #: BUDH0128

COMPANY: Bandai Visual/Honneamise

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

STAFF INFORMATION:

DIRECTOR: Kawagoe Jun

SERIES PLANNER: Nishizono Satoru

CHARACTER CONCEPTION: Kohno Sachiko (LAY UP)

MECHA CONCEPTION: Miyatake Kazutaka, Katoki Hajime, Saitoh Kazue, Kanemaru Hitoshi, Ando Hiroshi, Moriya Junichi

CHARACTER DESIGN: Tanaka Ryo

MECHA DESIGN: Saiki YAsuhiro

CG Mecha Design: Takakura Takeshi

3D CG: Honda Toshihiro

ART: Miyano Takashi

COLOR SETTING: Harada Sachiko

PHOTOGRAPHY: Satoh Masato

EDITOR: Taguma Jun

SOUND DIRECTOR: Nakano Tohru

MUSIC: Saitoh Tsuneyoshi

THEME SONG: JAM Project

SUPERVISOR: Terada Takanobu

ANIMATION PRODUCTION: BRAIN’S-BASE

PRODUCED BY: BANDAI VISUAL CO., LTD.

Original Story: BANPRESTO

The future. Humankind, once driven to the brink of annihilation, has regrouped under the banner of the Earth Federation, which protects its citizens from the very real threat of alien invasion. Seeking to increase its defenses, the Earth Federation Army has continued development of Personal Troopers, a form of mobile weaponry used to combat the alien menace. But when the Bartoll, the latest and most advanced Personal Trooper is unveiled to an eager public, something goes terribly wrong…

I have always been enthusiastic for mecha anime and for the “Super Robot Taisen” aka “Super Robot Wars” video games. The series has been the definitive staple of mecha games for mecha fans.

As a child, I always watched anime series that featured mecha controlled by one or five characters but my favorite mecha anime were series that would incorporate a large group of robots and characters (such as “Voltron (Near Universe” aka “Armored Fleet Dairugger XV”).

Even before these anime series, as a kid, I owned a lot of “Shogun Warriors”. A toyline that was released in the late 70’s that would feature characters such as Raideen, Danguard Ace, Mazinger, Combatra and some who became part of the “Super Robot Taisen” video games.

But why the series has become so popular because it was the ultimate collaboration of your favorite robots and characters from many series together in one game.

Pretty much the concept of the video game series was taking all these popular mecha robots from many different anime series and universes such as Gundam, Getter Robo, Evangelion, Dancougar, L-Gaim, Raideen, Mazinger Z, Cybuster, The Big O, Macross, Nadesico, Tekkaman Blade, etc. and create a tactical RPG.

For video game fans familiar with the popular Nintendo DS video game “Jump Superstars” which takes popular characters from the popular manga or anime series, this is pretty much a similar concept but “Super Robot Wars” has been around since 1991 with the first game “Super Robot Taisen” released for Nintendo’s Game Boy and has been on nearly every console (yes, including the XBOX 360).

Over a decade later, their have been dozens upon dozens of “Super Robot Wars” video games for a variety of consoles and released only in Japan. Mainly because of licensing issues and with many anime in the US is licensed to various companies, a US release was not possible.

That was until a video game titled “Super Robot Wars Original Generation” was released on the Game Boy Advance in Japan back in 2002 which featured unlicensed characters and an original storyline. The second GBA video game for the Original Generation was released in 2005 and sure enough, both games were distributed by Atlus in the United States in 2006.

And so Bandai Visual/Honneamise has distributed the three episode OAV series and the anime television series to the US.

“SUPER ROBOT WARS: ORIGINAL GENERATION – THE ANIMATION” is the epitome of mecha eye candy.

The three episode OAV series is about the unveiling of the new-model Personal Troopers (PT’s). New mobile weaponry for the Earth Federation Army and members of the army are gathered together with high-ranking military personnel for this joyous occasion.

That was until the PT’s started attacking everyone at the ceremony and then different parts around the world unexpectedly and destroying everything in their midst. Including the kidnapping of pilots, military personnel and students of prestigious universities.

It appears another scientist working with the EOTI Organization is involved and his goal is to mass create PT armies to unify the world by force and thus he is using these kidnapped people who will literally turned to his personal puppets against the Earth Federation.

This pits the pilots of the Earth Federation Army versus the mass army of PT’s. And to make things worse, the new technology on these PT units is the ability to learn the attacks of the opponent, download the information and the mass collective would predict each of their moves.

So, what literally takes place in these three episodes is an all out mecha war!

Episode 1 is titled “Swarm of the Bartoll” and features the first wave of attacks around the world by the PT’s and the first major battle between the ATX Team: Lt. Nanbu (Kyosuke) and 2nd Lt. Browning (Excellen) as they learn the hard way that the PT’s adapt to their fighting techniques quickly.

Episode 2 is titled “People=Parts” and you learn why the PT’s and Bartolls are kidnapping the Earth Defense pilots, military and students. Also, learning more about the scientist Wilhelm von Jurgen who developed the ODE system (the system that the PT’s are utilizing). With the capture of one of the PT’s and seeing how humans are used, the team worries that their pilots will now be part of that ODE system, which is literally a death sentence for them.

Also, the Earth Defense teams need to figure out a new strategy on how to defeat the PT’s since they have adjusted to each of the pilot’s fighting style.

Episode 3 is titled “Captive of the Maze” and this episode is awesome as the whole cast is involved in an all out battle against the PT’s. But to make things worse for the Earth Defense Force, the new group of PT’s are now piloted by the kidnapped pilots (their own friends and teammates) who are now being controlled.

Can the Earth Defense team save their teammates or will they have to kill them in battle?

I really enjoyed the various fighting styles for each pilot and each mecha. Especially when everyone comes together for episode three and you see some of the devastating attacks by the more experienced pilots. This all out battle was just exciting to watch and I can definitely see how these would tie into merchandise releases in Japan. Each character and robot has its own distinct fighting style, they look awesome and their armaments are just amazing.

The staff for this series features impressive talent. Director Kawagoe Jun is known probably in America for his work as director for “Transformers: Energon” but also his work for the “Shin Getter Robo” OAV’s. Tanaka Ryo for character design was a key animator for “Macross Plus” and character designer for “Lupin III: Missed by a Dollar”. Saiki Yasuhiro for mecha design has worked in key animation for several “Pokemon” films plus “New Fist of the North Star”.

The animation was very cool and in having to create mecha battle one after the other and trying to keep the battles fluid, especially with so many characters and robots must have been unique and challenging. There are times when the animation is seen from overhead and just watching the mecha walk, that was very cool and those type of scenes were definitely well-planned.

As for sound, Bandai continues its excellence in the sound category by keeping audio high at a 448 kbps audio mix. Japanese voice acting was well-done and I appreciate Bandai Visual for utilizing the same voice actors from previous SRW video games.

But putting my mecha enthusiasm to the side…

Earlier I talked about how I enjoyed mecha with a lot of robots and plenty of characters. Well, “Super Robot Wars: Original Generation” is an example of that.

But when you have a large group of characters, there is typically an introductory process of character introductions and character development.

With the OAV series, knowledge of the characters is continuing from the second Game Boy Advance series.

And for video game fanatics, they know that Atlus games are highly collectible because of low print runs and the fact that the game came out in the US in 2006, when most people have moved on to a Nintendo DS and a Sony PSP.

So, how many people own the Game Boy Advance games in the US, I would expect the hardcore fans would. But the casual fans, probably not.

So, with that being said, watching the OAV series has a feeling of catching an episode of a television series late in the game.

Watching a dozen or more characters and really not knowing who is who.

Fortunately, I think that Bandai Visual anticipated that, so they included an informative 24-page booklet that not only showcases the robots but each of their pilots and other major players from the SRW:OG universe. Also, with the characters talking about past battles (that relate to the video game series), it was really cool to see information on what is ATX Project, SRX Project or Wong Heavy Industries to name a few.

Also, in the booklet, you get photos of the front and back of the mecha, their flight form, armaments and key information. Also, information on several battle carriers. For the characters in the series, you get information on who they are and also several character designs of the full body, front and side head perspectives.

On a second bonus disc, the DVD features cast interviews, textless opening and endings, music videos by JAM Project, background information and glossary.

For the bonus disc, the interviews with the Japanese cast was fun to watch. Especially those who have been providing the voices for the video games for a decade and hearing them comment on the popularity of the series and how here they are doing the voices for the video games. That was fun to watch!

Also, for JAM Project fans, there are several music video clips and definitely something to keep you tide over for now, especially if you are anticipating their Otakon 2008 live performance

The only thing I wished was included on the DVD or booklet was an interview with director Kawagoe Jun or even director’s or staff commentary on the DVD to learn the mindset of what Kawagoe and series planner Nishizono Satoru wanted to accomplish with this anime.

I enjoyed how Bandai Visual’s past DVD releases has put the viewer in their shoes and to get understanding of key decisions made in the storyline, the challenges they faced and overall feelings of the finalized animation or key moments. For a series this big, it would have been cool to get a peak into their mindset.

But still, you do get a lot of cool special features on the bonus disc and the booklet is really informative.

Yes, I’m a mecha fan and yes, I am a “Super Robot Taisen” fan. So, for me, it was awesome to finally watch it animated.

So, for the hardcore video game fans, “SUPER ROBOT WARS: ORIGINAL GENERATION” was mecha eye candy and was fun to watch.

But for those curious or not familiar with the second Game Boy Advance game, they may come into this anime and feel overwhelmed by the vast number of characters and robots.

I can see this as similar to “Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children” and the people who watched this without playing the “Final Fantasy VII” video game and possibly getting lost in the shuffle.

But “Super Robot Wars” is just an all out mecha battle fest and for me, I enjoyed it. Especially the various characters and one can only want to see more episodes planned in the future.

I enjoy the large military/mecha anime series because of the various potential of storylines for each character, the division of different departments, the possible love triangles.

In SRW:OG’s case, with different pilots from different regions of the world working together, but most of all, the excitement for the sheer number of robots involved in this series is just incredible. This is a mecha hobbyist/collector’s dream.

But nevertheless, “Super Robot Wars” is about the tactical experience of battling other mecha. The enjoyment of Super Robot Wars is through the experience from playing the video games. This anime series is complimenting that experience and this series does a good job of showing the various mecha, the battles and strategies to overcome the opponent.

You can watch and enjoy this anime series without knowing who the characters and their background are. Although, those who are wanting character development, that is where you may want to purchase the previous video games on Game Boy Advance and also the “SUPER ROBOT WARS: ORIGINAL GENERATION DIVINE WARS” DVD’s (available now). Also, the inclusion of the booklet does help a bit as well.

So, for those who are interested in “SUPER ROBOT WARS: ORIGINAL GENERATION”, I’m going to give you my best advice (NOTE: this is as of May 2008) that you probably are not going to find anywhere else. Especially if you want to understand the background of Original Generation and the characters thoroughly.

Purchase the “SUPER ROBOT WARS: Original Generation” from K-Mart (yes, one of the few places to find the first game for “new”). The game is a GBA game now on clearance or sold at $19.99. You maybe able to find it at your local game store for “used”.

Then purchase and watch the “SUPER ROBOT WARS: ORIGINAL GENERATION – DIVINE WARS” which is the televised series now available on DVD from Bandai Visual/Honneamise.

But knowing that many newbies to “SUPER ROBOT WARS” will go read a game review, of course, the second SRW:OG game is the better of the two. So, if you don’t intend on purchasing the first game, purchase the “SUPER ROBOT WARS: ORIGINAL GENERATION 2” which you can find new at your local Gamestop/EB/Software Etc. This game can also be found for $19.99 or used. Of course, if you are reading this review post-2008, you should be able to find the game new or used via Amazon or eBay.

Then after playing the second game, watch the “SUPER ROBOT WARS: ORIGINAL GENERATION – THE ANIMATION” OAV series.

Whether it’s the video game or anime experience you are truly after, the fact that you are interested in “Super Robot Wars” is your passion for mecha. And what better time than now, to get into “SUPER ROBOT WARS”.

Check it out!

+ “SUPER ROBOT WARS” finally gets animated

+ Large number of characters and robots

+ Mecha battle fest! Cool animated battles and cool ideas of weapon utilization.

+ Well done voice acting with many of the original voice talent from the video games involved.

+ Cool bonus disc and informative 24-page booklet

– If you are unfamiliar with the second GBA video game, the characters of the series may not mean anything to you.

– For those who need and prefer an English dub, this DVD is ONLY Japanese with English subtitles.






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