Judge Joel Pearce reports no progress in this dysfunctional family's therapy.
"We are the Earth Defense Family. It's our responsibility to do this." -Mamoru
Well, I'm done with the second volume of The Daichis: Earth's Defense Family, and I'm still not impressed. Serious fans of action/comedy anime might get more out of this than I have, but I'm not holding out much hope for the series.
When we last left them, the family discovered that their cool battle upgrades are extremely expensive, and the cost is being pulled out of the pay for the missions they run. Instead of providing compensation for their daring rescues of the earth, their actions have pushed them very, very deep into debt. Refusing to give up on the prospect of recovering the lost funds, Seiko pushes the family into heavy training, realizing that teamwork is the only way the family will get back in the black. In this second volume, the alien invaders come in fast enough waves that the Daichis don't have much of a chance to train, and some of that motivation has quickly dissolved as the in-fighting carries on.
The biggest problem with the series is the development team's reliance on the same small well of jokes, and it's already getting dry. The "superheroes going into debt" gag is entertaining at first, but it's hardly big enough to use as the basis for a full series. Dai running around naked and becoming a horny preteen is already groan-worthy, and most of us don't have to turn to an anime series from the other side of the world to see a dysfunctional family. The promise of the family starting to work together to defeat more powerful monsters was promising, but this volume seems to be a step backwards. They are having smaller scale fights, still win the battles by using super powerups, and are still going headlong into debt. The battles are the strongest part of the series, but are weakened by attempts at humor.
The family isn't suffering consequences for getting this deep into debt. They begin this volume with over a million dollars owed, and get themselves almost that deep into debt again in this second volume. It's quickly getting to the point that they will never be able to pay it back, no matter how many times they save the world, yet nothing bad is happening to them. They still call up the mega powerups, and no collection agencies are showing up at the door. If this gag is going to work long-term, they are going to have to raise the stakes. The inclusion of the "cute invaders" doesn't exactly accomplish that. In fact, the Pokemon inspired toys are unusually annoying.
The strongest part of this new series is the increasing depth of the alien conspiracy. It's not clear yet how many of the "people" around the Daichi family are aliens, but we now know there are more than one, and they probably have a part to play. Open plot threads abound, such as Weird, Dai's small alien pet, and the cute invaders who have left the earth but are still hunting for something to play with. There's enough happening in The Daichis to turn it into a funny and exciting series, but things need to come together as soon as possible.
The quality of the second volume is as strong as the first. It's a top-grade video and audio transfer, which does a fine job of capturing the solid animation and voice work. Whether you choose to listen to the original language track or the English dub, the characters are well-portrayed, and just as annoying as your own dysfunctional family. The only extra on the disc is a collection of commercials advertising the show on Japanese television. They explain who the show is targeted at, which apparently is "bored guys who are waiting for something fun to happen." Guess that explains why I'm not enjoying it more.
My recommendation hasn't changed much since the first volume. If you are a fan of this kind of show, you'll get a lot more mileage out of it than I have to this point. The animation is solid and the action is good for a comedy series. They make lots of jabs at the anime superhero genre, some of which work better than others. Either way, I doubt it will ever be worth more than a rental.
The Daichis is still hanging over the edge of the cliff of guiltiness. I am prepared to let it fall to its death unless it gets its act together in a hurry.
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