Reviewed by: Spike
Released by: Bandai Entertainment
Age Rating: 13+
Region: 1 - North America
Volume 1 of 6
Length: 125 minutes
English 2.0 Stereo
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
In the distant future mankind’s inability to regulate the damage it was doing to the environment has led to a disaster of almost cataclysmic proportions, now the human population live in huge domed cities to allow the more habitable climes to focus on food production and restoring the ecological balance. However, the inhabitants of these cities have become restless and many believe that the lands of their forefathers are ready to support them once again, these people are known to plan Exodus, whereby they vacate the "domepolis" cities and return to their former homelands. Unfortunately, the corporations that supply the domepolis with food and supplies at heavily inflated prices are none too happy about this turn of events that will put a dent in their profits and might provoke other cities to do the same thing.
Enter Gainer Sanga, a game champion who has recently been awarded the title "King" for his prowess in the gaming tournaments and has been thrown into gaol under suspicion of insighting Exodus. Here, under the guard of the Siberian Railroad police he meets Gain Bijou, who seems at first to be a drifter but shows himself to be a competent fighter as he frees himself and Gainer from the prison. Now Gainer has found himself in the pilot seat of a mysterious giant mecha called an Overman and is now fighting for the one thing he despises. Exodus.
Incredibly, the animation looks quite dated, with only the barest hint of computer graphics used and the hand drawn animation looks like a throwback to the days of Macross with its low cell count and amazing gravity-defying hair styles, although this in no way detracts from the series and in some ways means that you're watching the show rather than revelling in the eye-candy in front of you. The music is suitably cheesy and melodramatic with the opening theme extolling the virtues of King Gainer and the willingness to risk ones life in battle against an energetic j-rock background, the incidental music follows this familiar pattern.
The characters are more interesting than they are believable with the main protagonists seeming like diametric opposites. Gainer is withdrawn and serious while Gain is outgoing and jovial, this as well as their circumstances causes the two to harbour a rivalry. Other, less critical characters include Sara, the love interest and princess Ana, a young hostage who seems to come out with more intelligent comments than all of the male cast put together, these amongst a whole legion of others, good and bad, give the show an enormous cast, each with their own quirks and personalities.
The series seems to play out much like many other giant robot anime out there, young boy reluctantly pilots giant robot eventually getting better and better at it while proving himself to his mentor and winning the hand of the girl he likes. The main meat of the show is the fight between the leaving people and the railway police in their lesser "silhouette engine" robots as well as the more powerful but much rarer Overmen with bouts of interpersonal drama and comedy in between.
The real saving grace of Overman King Gainer is the premise of the show and its execution, normally when you think of a group of people that want to exodus to Yapan in the east (Hmm, I wonder where they could mean?) you think of a small band of well-meaning but naive misfits rather than a whole city, complete with levitating city blocks. This is Overman King Gainers real power, while each episode is passable in it's own right, the storyline and unpredictable nature of the show will be the factor that makes you buy the next disk.
I must say I enjoyed the first volume of Overman King Gainer immensely for it's attention to detail and it's quirky style, where else can you say you enjoyed watching the little girl doing The Monkey? (The 60s dance style not, well, y'know...) I can highly recommend this show to anyone who enjoys giant robot shows, however it is not very likely that this show will appeal to fans who don't enjoy this genre, and they might therefore want to give this one a wide berth.