Bandai // 2002 // 125 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // May 26th, 2005
Break out! Discover what's beyond the horizon!
Overman King Gainor: Yapan's Exodus impressed the hell out of me. I wasn't expecting a lot, but I found a very well-drawn show with an ample amount of drama. Director Yoshiyuki Tomino helmed Mobile Suit Gundam, a classic of the anime genre, and here he finds a worthy addition to his legacy. I really hope the series stays as good as it is here in this first volume. This is definitely a title any anime fan should look into, and a good one as well for new watchers who want to know what all the anime fuss is about. Overman King Gainor delivers in a big way.
It starts off with a typical science fiction set-up -- a world where the environment has been destroyed, and everyone lives in domed cities. Corporations bring in supplies, and tax the citizens in exchange for providing food and medicine from the outside world. The people are growing suspicious, and a movement to leave, called "Exodus," has begun. People believe the world is okay to inhabit, and the dome cities are just a ploy to make them pay exorbitant fees to greedy corporations.
Gainer is a video game champion who is falsely accused of being an "Exodus" conspirator and thrown in jail. In his cell he meets Gain, who, unlike Gainer, is an actual agent of the rebellion. Gain helps Gainer escape, and together they find an antique "overman" (in essence a giant robot warrior). Gainer, thanks to his years of button-mashing, quickly learns how to pilot the weapon. He soon finds himself in the middle of the wilds of Siberia, part of a mass exodus from his native domed city (despite the fact he never intended to join the "Exodus" movement).
Sooner than you can start singing "Convoy," the citizens have assembled a rag tag group of ships to fly out of the city into the wilderness to find a fabled land of peace and plenty called "Yapan." (No fair guessing which Pacific chain of islands they are heading towards.) But of course they are being pursued by the Siberian Railroad company -- the corporation that provided them with supplies. The corporation is none too happy to see its profit generators hitting the highway for open land free of their tyranny. Can Gainer protect the people on the run from the evil directors of the company, who are equipped with their own more modern Overman weapons? Can a video game geek become a hero?
What makes this first volume of the series rock is that it's simply beautiful to look at, and has just enough plot to make you care about the impressive action sequences. Sure, it's a tried and true mix of mecha suit battles and wagon train Wild West stories -- but it's all executed with a great amount of care and style. The cast is not too large, and the characters are clearly drawn both in their artistic representations and personality traits. It's a study in why anime is so popular. My only concern is over how the show is going to progress. The first episodes were more breathtaking visually than some of the later entries, but for five episodes I was hooked from the first sequence to the last. There is no predictable formula to the series, and things unfold at a nice pace. Snip off the opening and closing sequences, and you could fool me into thinking this was a great feature film production.
Bandai makes Overman King Gainor: Yapan's Exodus a top-notch affair with some solid transfers and great voice acting. The show has a more muted palette than most Japanese cartoon epics, so it doesn't give my player fits with too many neon colored sequences. The colors are rendered nicely onto DVD, and there is nothing I noticed to distract you from the story. The audio mix for both the English and Japanese versions is a respectable stereo mix that doesn't ever get too busy. There aren't a ton of extras, save for some artwork galleries and the inclusion of some promos from Japan. My only gripe is there is nothing to give the show context; I find this to be a problem with most anime offerings. But when the show is this good, you really don't care how it came about all that much. You're just thankful it works as entertainment and completely sucks you in to another world.
I'd definitely recommend Overman King Gainor as an example of why I enjoy anime. It's a science fiction story that could never be told with live action, and it's so artfully done you often forget you are watching a cartoon. Both language tracks are done well, although I have to say the English dub is actually more clear on many plot points than the original Japanese. Somebody did their homework to elevate the show in the dub, rather than just slapping a simple translation together. It all works well together. I'm looking forward to the next volume of episodes.
Review content copyright © 2005 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 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: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Lineart Gallery
* Japanese Commercials