Judge Steve Evans had a big "O" while watching this DVD—an O-shaped yawn that lasted about 75 minutes.
The war for Paradigm City begins.
Originally televised in Japan to lukewarm response, this anime program gained new life when it was picked up and aired (in an edited form) on the Cartoon Network in 2001. Additional episodes were co-produced by the network. Now Volume Four in the saga of Paradigm City and her amnesiac inhabitants comes to DVD.
To recap the story, the people of Paradigm City lost their memories 40 years ago. Ever since, they've eked out an existence in the desolate metropolis. In Volume Four, negotiator and superhero Roger Smith must find a way to save Paradigm from annihilation by the demented Alex Rosewater, son of the city builder. Roger is aided in his mission by Dorothy (a robotic creation reminiscent of the mechas in Spielberg's Artificial Intelligence) and Norman the butler. In emergencies they can also call for help from The Big O, a giant robot. No word on whether this flying robot is on loan from Johnny Sokko.
The heavily armed Big O defends Paradigm City from other robot attacks while Smith struggles to unravel the mystery of the lost memories. As they confront the evil Rosewater, who's bent on destroying the city just for personal amusement, Roger and his team discover the origins of the plague that wiped out all recollection of the past. Will they stop Rosewater and his insidious henchmen before Paradigm itself is only a lost memory?
That last one is a rhetorical question, anime fans.
So what do we get for our time and money? Mostly well drawn, though characteristically minimal, animation. A science fiction plot with a denouement that borrows from The Matrix. Art deco designs cribbed straight from Fritz Lang's Metropolis and a mise en scène reminiscent of Batman's Gotham City. This Mulligan's Stew of derivative ingredients will probably taste good to indiscriminate fans of the anime form. But be forewarned: only the tone deaf will be able to endure the excruciatingly painful theme music, which sounds suspiciously similar to the soundtrack for Flash Gordon, composed and screeched by Queen.
Violence is present (but not plentiful) and the program, consisting of the final three episodes of the story (24-26), is probably suitable for kids 13 and up.
Extras include a gallery of production illustrations and three trailers of other anime titles. The features and other menu items are hidden until the remote control or computer mouse is toggled over the screen, which is not the most user-friendly interface. All things considered, the court finds The Big O II: Aggressive Negotiations (Vol. 4) guilty.
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