Geneon // 2001 // 125 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // February 24th, 2005
Now, Rise up, Earth's Defense Family! Transform into battle mode and save the Earth!
In case you have been chomping at the bit to see an anime series with the most dysfunctional family ever, here is your chance. Everyone else may want to skip this one, though, since it runs over material that has been done better countless times before.
The series opens with an introduction to the Daichis. The mother, Seiko, wants a divorce. She is cruel and massively self-centered, and no longer wants to live with her husband Mamoru. He is overweight and seems to be overly passive and weak-willed, and doesn't seem especially bothered by this imminent separation. Seiko also wants to get far away from their son, Dai, who has energy to burn and a terrible habit of flipping up the skirts of every girl he comes across. The only person that Seiko does still want to live with is her daughter, Nozomi -- because she does all the housework. Nozomi would rather live with her father, but she generally just wants to get out of the family. (I can hardly blame her.) But everything starts to change for the Daichis when they are chosen to become the new Earth Defense Family, and need to learn to work together to battle aliens that threaten the earth.
There are a few things that work really well in The Daichis. The action sequences against the aliens are quite effective and exciting, and there are enough of these battles to keep the series exciting. Each of the battles is different and creatively fought. I also really like the fact that the family has to pay for the better powers, which adds motivation for them to improve and sets up some pretty funny jokes. The whole series is paced very quickly, so there is never a down moment. The animation looks quite impressive, with plenty of detail and impressive backdrops. The parody of superhero series is also somewhat entertaining, from the costumes to the illogical yet typical way of invoking the powers. (Is it really necessary for the characters to always name the powers they are using?)
Unfortunately, every one of these good points is offset by an equally large problem. While the dysfunctional family is a necessary element of the plot, it means that there are few likable characters in the series. Dai is too obnoxious and perverted to be really appreciated as a hero. Nozomi is quite whiny, even though it's with good reason. There hasn't been much character development for Mamoru yet, other than the fact that he is fat and doesn't defend himself much. Seiko is such a repulsive character that I can't imagine ever caring for her. Dai's obsession with looking up girls' skirts and squeezing their boobs also gets old very fast. It's just not that funny, especially since the target is often his mother. We get that he's rambunctious, but this is an even sillier than usual way to insert fan service into an anime series. My other minor complaints are with the opening and closing songs. The opening song has nothing to do with the series except for Dai's prepubescent sexual obsession, and the closing song is a light J-pop ballad that doesn't even fit thematically.
The disc, on the other hand, is masterfully produced. The video transfer is pristine, with none of the flaws and problems that are often associated with animation. The colors are perfect, there is a strong black level, and the transfer shows every detail of the animation. The sound is as good as stereo tracks get, and the Japanese and English tracks are equally appealing, depending on your personal preference. There is good separation, plenty of punch and dialogue that's almost too clear at times. The only extras on the disc are a television preview of the series, the requisite textless opening and closing animation, and a short production drawing gallery.
As with so much anime, I'm not exactly sure who The Daichis is intended for. There is a lot of toilet humor, and the main character is a young boy, so the show seems squarely aimed at children. At the same time, there is a ridiculous amount of fan service and adult content. So, the target audience shouldn't be allowed to watch the series. As far as older audiences are concerned, there are such better series and films that feature epic battles, superheroes and giant robots, so why bother with another inferior one? I would happily prefer watching The Incredibles several times rather than this series, because the former was clever with its societal analysis, characters, and plot twists. This series is simply overshadowed by a glut of similarly-themed shows and films that have handled the themes and ideas much better. If this kind of series is up your alley, you may want to give it a rental, but it's definitely not worth adding to your collection.
Willing to the earth (for money) or not, the members of this family are too annoying to be my heroes. Guilty!
Review content copyright © 2005 Joel Pearce; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Concept Art Gallery