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Despite all the dangling plot threads and inconsistencies, I really enjoyed The Big O.
Review by Matthew Anderson
13 Episode TV Series
Running Time: 325 minutes (13 episodes)
Rated: PG-13 (Violence, language and Adult situations)
Paradigm City is a very strange place. 40 years ago, everyone who lived in or around the city had their memory wiped. The people of Paradigm began to rebuild, despite not knowing anything of their past. Memories are worth more than gold, and there are many people who will do anything to get them back.
Roger Smith is a negotiator in Paradigm City. During the course of his duties, he meets and deals with people from both sides of the law. To help him in his negotiations, he has a giant robot called Big O. This "Mega deuce" robot comes in handy when one or both parties pull a fast one. Alas, use of The Big O results in city wide destruction. This causes his friend and former boss, Military Police Chief Datsun no end of aggravation.
While working a "routine" kidnapping case, Roger encounters R. Dorothy Wainright, an almost human android. After rescuing her from her "kidnappers", she becomes a member of his household. From time to time the two of them work together to solve the strange cases that come their way.
There are some sinister goings on behind the scenes. An insane reporter seems to know the truth about what happened 40 years ago, yet refuses to tell anyone. The head of Paradigm City may be working with a foreign agent called Angel, and more and more Mega Deuces are starting to appear!
"Big O, it's Showtime!"
DVD VISION TEST
VIDEO: The quality is excellent.
There are no pixels or errors noted on all 4 discs. The colors are solid, and the motion,
AUDIO: There is very little difference between the Japanese and English 2.0 audio tracks. What difference there is in the volume and the surround sound elements. It will depend on your equipment on which one sounds better.
EDITS: The Japanese opening and closing titles have been replaced with English titles. No edits to the episodes have been noted.
EXTRAS: Depending on the disc, there are clean open and close animation, text based interviews with the director, writer, and staff. There are cast interviews, hidden as an Easter egg in the extras menu on the fourth disc.
STORY: Sunrise is the king of giant robot anime, and the Big O is no different. Prolific writer Chiaki Konaka (Hellsing, Armitage) along with Kazuyoshi Katayama have given us a new take on this never ending genre. Part 60's spy show, part Men in Black, this show is perhaps one of the hippest ever made. It also has some mind bending puzzles to solve, and lots of dangling plot threads.
ACTING: It's like "Cowboy Bebop" all over again. The unmistakable voices of David Lucas as Roger and Wendee Lee as the Fujiko clone "Angel" are back again. Along with Lia Sargent (Milly from "Trigun") as the perfectly dead pan Dorothy, this is one great ensemble cast. Everyone does an excellent job. I can see why people are big fans of the series.
The Japanese language seems to follow the recent tradition of low key voice acting. When they are yelling, their voices never get above a dull roar.
FAN SERVICE: There is a shot of "Angel" in her black bra and panties. Her pink, body hugging, suit would give Emma Peel a run for her money. I didn't notice any references from the manga, but I am sure there were some.
Let's not forget the references to Sir Isaac Asimov and his "Robots" series.
Here it is, years later and The Big O is still going strong. Who would have thought it? A moderately successful 13 episode series that ran on satellite TV would become as big a hit as "Cowboy Bebop". It did, and it seems that nothing can stop this "Mega deuce" of a series.
I first discovered "The Big O" in Monthly Magazine Z. While the stories "ChronoEyes" and "Vampire Master" really piqued my interest, Big O didn't. It was kind of hard to follow, and a little dull. I wasn't wild about the simplistic style, and I thought the Big O was an ugly robot.
Still, word of mouth is a powerful thing. Everywhere I went, people were talking about "The Big O". One day, with money in my wallet, and some Replay points in my account, I went to my local Suncoast, and picked up the boxset. It was a good deal, and now was my chance to see if the series lived up to the hype.
I do like the whole 60's spy show vibe its got going on. The plot is interesting, if not compelling. The mystery really gnaws at you, especially since they don't actually answer anything. The character themselves are entertaining. I love the back and fourth between Dorothy and Roger. It's funny that Roger, the emotional human, is the straight man to Dorothy's deadpan robotic wit.
Many people have written that Big O is the cousin to "Batman". Even the series writers admit that because of their work on "Batman Beyond", they were influenced by that awesome show. While the similarities are obvious, you need to take a closer look. You will see that "Big O" has more in common with the wonderful "Robots" books by Isaac Asimov than our favorite caped crusader. The domed cities (Caves of Steel), a woman from a foreign land (Naked Sun) and R. Dorothy Wainright (R. stands for robot) are just some of the obvious references. Much like Elijah Bailey did in the Robot novels, Roger has a suspicion about non-city dwellers. He also shares Bailey's distain for robots, yet becomes a friend of one. The sad thing is, the writers never really explore some of the themes carried over from the "Robots" books. Instead they spend most of their narrative energy on the mystery of the events 40 years ago, and the machinations of Rosewater, the leader of Paradigm City.
One thing that surprised me was the fact that majority of the episodes were stand alone. You would figure with such a big mystery, every event that occurred would help reveal just a little more of the puzzle. Instead, each episode is a self contained story. By not having any true story arcs, you are left with a series of events that seem to have no real relation to each other. It makes the narrative a little choppy.
I don't get the reason why Roger is so obsessed with memories and the events of 40 years ago. Let's assume that Roger is around 30 years old. That would mean that he wasn't even born when everyone lost their memories. So, why does he act like he had memories to loose.
As far as a technical standpoint, If you have all four volumes, you can pass on the box set. There is nothing different between the two.
Despite all the dangling plot threads and inconsistencies, I really enjoyed The Big O. It's a solid, entertaining series with a great cast, interesting writing, and a film noir quality that I dig. Besides, it has giant robots beating the crap out of each other. How can you not enjoy it?
"Big O, it's Showtime!"
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