September 16, 2012

Linebarrels of Iron

There is no shortage of giant robot anime series where the main character seems to accidentally get the coolest job of all having to pilot one of these awesome machines. Linebarrels of Iron stayed true to this trend. While I do love giant robot anime, I get tired of watching the same story premise over and over. While there were a number of similarities in Linebarrels of Iron in comparison to other series such as Gundam Seed/Destiny, Overman King Gainer, and many others, this show kicked off with a tonne of action, which kept me interested from beginning to end.

The premise of this story has to do with a middle school student named Kouichi Hayase, whose is constantly being picked on and bullied. Kouichi is often being protected by his two best friends Yajima and Risako. While running some errands for three bullies in his class, Kouichi is crushed by a giant robot known as a Machina. Kouichi is revived from the dead by the machina and ends up inheriting its power, allowing him to begin defending himself and relying less and less on his friends. With his new found power, Kouichi ends up becoming the pilot, known as a factor, for the giant robot, which is called Linebarrel. As Kouichi becomes stronger and works towards his goal of being an Ally of Justice, he continues to drift further away from his old friends and closer to his new friends. As relationships develop and memories are unlocked, the true fate of the world and the fight for right and wrong becomes grey area that is not so clear anymore.

Linebarrels of Iron had a number of redeeming qualities that made it a quick and easy anime the get through. The story was quite well done. It was easy to follow for the most part and each episode ended with suspense that made you want to continue watching. The relationships that develop and the tragedy that ensues through the show keeps you wondering how the story will evolve. I often found myself thinking I knew what the outcome of a situation would be, only to find out that I was wrong. This lack of predictability was refreshing and couldn't help but keep me curious.

Heavily tied into the story is the development of the characters. As a whole, the character development was well done. My only real complaint here was something that is often common in many anime and manga, there are instances where the characters have a very clear and open opportunity to be with a person that they care about, yet somehow manage to screw it up or be completely oblivious. I understand that this is part of what makes shows entertaining and it also lends itself to the modestly of displays of affection in Japanese culture, but still it wouldn't hurt once in a while for a character to just "go for it" and state the obvious. My only other real gripe with the character development was with Kouichi's immature attitude. In the beginning of the show it was understandable, but it felt like it took too long for him to grow out of some of his immature modalities.

The artwork present in Linebarrels of Iron was quite appealing. There was a lot of CG use in developing the machina and robotics throughout the show. The actual animation was very representative of Gundam Seed Destiny (which isn't surprising since the same team of artists was used). There were even times when I could swear that I was seeing Amuro Ray in Kouichi. The female characters had the typical curvy, bouncy bodies that were over-endowed and borderline completely exposed. There are a number of scenes that are not the most appropriate for younger audiences (mostly due to characters lack of clothing). The use of vibrant colour went a long way in making this show even more appealing visually.

The soundtrack was not among my faviourite, however, it as not completely terrible. I had a hard time getting into the opening and ending themes and the in show BGM was nothing memorable. I often found that the music didn't really help to set the tone of the scenes. Thankfully the scripting was intriguing enough that it could still evoke the emotions that the writers were hoping to portray to the audience.

Overall, Linebarrels of Iron is certainly a series worth checking out for those looking for action and romance wrapped up into one neat little package. There is a short OVA of 2 episodes that accompanies the series. While the series flies by quickly, watching the two short OVA episodes was like pulling teeth. They don't seem to have much relevance to the story and after watching the second, it leaves the door so wide open that it makes the series feel like it didn't end. That aside, sticking to the 24 episode series should leave you satisfied.

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