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The Big O back to reviews
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Stylish, but ultimately not compelling
The Big O is something of an anomaly in anime. Sure, it might seem like just another Super Robot show, but it actually stands out starkly because of its art style and cultural frame of reference. All those comparisons to Batman you read are largely accurate; Roger acts a lot like Bruce Wayne and the setting strongly evokes Gotham City. It captures the essence of the early 1900s very well, with a superb jazz soundtrack and lots of nice Art Deco architecture. The character designs don't look like anything else in anime. In fact, it's a thoroughly Western show, probably one of the most Westernized anime I can think of. If you didn't know this was anime, you probably wouldn't guess if you saw it dubbed. (My guess is that this is why it was more successful in America than Japan.)

But you can only get so far on style. The character designs are actually very ugly, and I was taken aback at how stark and almost grotesque some minor characters are. It seems almost like the artists were unsuccessfully attempting to mimic an American aesthetic. More pertinently, the premise just isn't very interesting. It always keeps going back to how "everyone in Paradigm lost their memories" but it seems more like a way of establishing a noir-ish aesthetic than anything. It's mostly episodic, and when the main plot does emerge, it's unclear and Mind Screw-ish. Finally, and I know this might sound like blasphemy - I think this show would've been better without the "Megadeuses." I much prefer Humongous Mecha to superheroics, but everything always gets way cheesier when Roger "pulls out" the Big O, as the music switches from smooth jazz to triumphant fanfare and the usual Super Robot tropes shatter the Film Noir ones.

The Big O is an interesting and unusual experiment in a very un-Japanese field, and I love the score, but in the end the show didn't grab me, and sadly when the series ended I felt like I had wasted my time. But it might be worth a watch late at night, if only to drown drowsily in the heady mood it creates.
I agree very much. I am not a huge anime fan, and so I am very selective with the shows I watch. So while I think The Big O is a decent show, it's by far my least favorite of the anime I've seen in full. I appreciated the atmosphere, the style, music, and so on. The English dub was good, if unemotional. But all in all, it was just boring. The characters weren't that interesting, the fights were slow, and the episodic stories were formulaic and not compelling at all. I actually liked the weird Mind Screw stuff more than the rest of the show, though, simply because it could keep my attention.
comment #5324 Treblain 3rd Dec 10
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