Dispatches from the Front: Fall 2008 TV Cartoons, Part 2

More impressions from new shows this season– and some don’t suck!

Casshern Sins

In the first few episodes of this latest remake of the Casshern mythos, the titular character spends his time wandering through a post-apocalyptic wasteland, getting lectured about terrible things he did but cannot remember and regularly getting into fights with robots. The basic plot seems to be that Casshern did something that not only caused the world to turn into a desolate shithole, but is also causing all robots to rust and die. Naturally, the robots aren’t thrilled about this and as a result Casshern finds himself having to kick a lot of metal ass.

Which would be all well and good if this wasn’t such a budget anime, with the animators taking every opportunity to cut corners. The result is a lot of action that relies more on sound effects and imagination than actual movement, which is a let down for what’s clearly trying to be an action series. What’s there is gorgeous, with a style that really attempts to emulate the line style of anime from the late 70’s and early 80’s, there just isn’t much movement. The show’s opening, usually showcasing the best animation in a series, is nothing more than static images.

The mystery of Casshern’s past manages to keep the first few episodes going, but we’ll have to see if the show can maintain the mystery for the length and not end up being a slow, mediocre jerk-off, which is how these things often end up. So far it’s kept my interest enough to keep watching, but if they don’t cut it out with the ‘mysterious characters who randomly appear and speak in vague terms because they clearly know more than the hero (and viewer) but don’t want to give much away’ I might have to stop watching.

Linebarrels of Iron

GONZO’s really big into this legal Internet distribution of their new cartoons. I can’t say I approve of their choice of partners, but it’s one of the best stances taken by a production company to combat the evils of digital fansubbing. Unfortunately, GONZO’s yet to distribute a good show this way, and Linebarrels does nothing to change that.

Our hero is a pathetic little twerp who always gets pissed off when his friends stand up for him against bullies because he is going to be a Hero of Justice! He just hasn’t found his plot device yet. Luckily for him, a giant robot falls out of orbit and crushes him that very day! When he comes to, he’s lying in a crater underneath said giant robot in a bloodstained uniform – right next to a naked girl! And she has amnesia! Fearless dork discovers he now has super strength and giddily accepts Mysterious Naked Girl’s offer to drive the titular robot, “LINEBARREL”, which is apparently summoned by groping her tit. He beats the shit out of the attacking bad guys and their ugly 3DCG robots, and starts bragging about how nobody is gonna fuck with him now that he has a giant fuckin’ robot, only for Mystery Naked Girl to inform him that he’s already dead. Roll credits!

I get what they’re setting up with the “kid who always fantasized about being a super robot pilot finally gets his chance, but it’s not what he thought it would be” plotline, but that doesn’t make it any less stupid, or any less of a retread. It’s certainly possible that Linebarrels of Iron will manage to find an interesting angle on the tired tropes it’s constructed from, but then again, it’s also possible that you’ll be struck by lightning
Let me be serious for a moment: does anyone actually like Hisashi “Gundam SEED” Hirai’s character designs? I don’t think he can even draw three different faces, and they’re really ugly ones! The actual production values of the first episode are fairly decent, but you just can’t save an awful art style that easily, especially since Mr. Hirai is also the animation director.

The robots are another problem. Now, GONZO’s normally pretty good at integrating 3DCG robots well into their shows. It’s been their trademark since, like, day 1. Something seems to have gone wrong this time, though; the robots clash badly with the environment in several shots, and the animation of the robots looks hokey. I have a thing for the big, blocky, vaguely Front Mission look of the army’s cannon-fodder robots, but all the important robots rely on dumb melee weapons and look like rejects from Zone of the Enders. I’m going to attribute that to mechanical designer Tsutomu Suzuki’s previous work on the ZoE spinoff cartoons.


It’s hard to resist the forces behind Fall 2008’s space opera: Artland, Noboru Ishiguro, Haruhiko Mikimoto, Yoshiki Tanaka. If you don’t recognize any of those names, then the chances are you either don’t follow development and/or creative staffs (for shame), or haven’t watched an anime older than McDonald’s’ “I’m lovin’ it” advertising campaign.

If anyone in the anime industry has the right to self-plagiarize they’re Director Ishiguro and author Tanaka. And so far Tytania seems to be, for all intensive purposes, a Legend of the Galactic Heroes retread.

No complaint from me. More of the same is perfectly fine if it maintains the level of quality inherent to the original and doesn’t stomp all over existing mythos doing so. So far, it’s hard to say where Tytania rates on that scale. Recall LoGH, because of the show’s massive breadth, it’s hard to find a single episode that encapsulates all of the series’ core themes. I don’t know how many episodes Tytania is going for, but it feels uncomfortable attempting to preview it with only two episodes out at the time of publication.

So far: human space is split between the Tytania family, a landless ducal lineage that nevertheless holds all the hard power behind the imperial façade and another empire named Euria, which is rather faceless except for one Fan Hulic, a one-time admiral of the mercantile class.

There’s little chance this series, as a modern television series, can cover as much ground as LoGH. Here’s hoping it focuses on feudal intrigue and politicking. Mechanical designers Kazutaka Miyatake and Koji Ito’s battleships are pretty vanilla. Additionally, the court scenes are cheaper to animate well, if not easier to fansub well.


  1. As much as I tried, I found myself getting really bored through the second episode of Tytania. It just seems kind of like a waste for Artland to spend so much time on LoGH and then go back and do the same thing with Tytania. Why not try something different?

  2. Linebarrels really sucked. It was like they just compiled a list of cliches and turned them into a script. I would’ve thought that I could at least relate to a character who wants nothing more than to pilot a giant robot but no, I just wanted to sock him in the face. I almost feel like there has to be more to it, that no show could be this uninspiring. But then I’m reminded of Gonzo’s track record…

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