Linebarrels of Iron: Part 1 (ep.1-12)
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The sci-fi adventure Linebarrels of Iron (2008) opens in 2019, as a gargantuan mecha plummets from space, crashing into the woods in Japan. Designated junior high nerd Kouichi is taking a shortcut through those woods to fetch lunch for a clutch of bullies when the robot-suit crashes. He awakens next to naked babe Emi, who helps him establish a link with the mecha Linebarrel. Kouichi discovers he is the Factor, the human destined to pilot the robot-suit--although Emi explains that the mecha killed him when it crashed and has restored him to life. For the first time, Kouichi feels powerful: he declares himself a Champion of Justice and wreaks havoc in the nearby city as he tries to prove it. Before he can do too much damage, he's recruited by the Juda Corporation to join the fight against the evil leader of the Katou Organization, who's out to rule the world. Linebarrels of Iron veers erratically between fan service slapstick and formula mecha battles. The setup at the Juda Corporation suggests a harem comedy, but Kouichi is an arrogant jerk who lacks the good-natured charm of Tenchi in Tenchi Muyo! or the hangdog appeal of Keitaro in Love, Hina, and the gratuitous nudie shots interrupt the fumbling progress of the story. Masamitsu Hidaka's pedestrian direction keeps the battle scenes from generating much excitement as an apparently endless supply of weightless robots from the Katou Organization get cut in half by Kouichi and his understandably reluctant allies from Juda. Linebarrels of Iron ranks among the least impressive offerings from the prestigious Gonzo studio. (Rated TV MA: nudity, violence, risqué humor, alcohol and tobacco use) --Charles Solomon
(1. The Iron and the Boy, 2. Justice Barreling Along, 3. Azure Terror, 4. The Price of Justice, 5. Guidepost to Tomorrow, 6. A Radiant Night, 7. The Worst After School Hours Ever, 8. Playful Devils, 9. The Black Chamber, 10. Overdrive, 11. Supernova, 12. From the Tropics with Love)
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The anime series is directed by Masamitsu Hidaka (known for his directorial work on various "Pokemon" series and films), series composition by Kiyoko Yoshimura ("Chocolate Underground", "Dogs: Bullets & Carnage") and Shigeru Morita ("Mobile Suit Gundam Seed", "Seikon no Qwaser"). Character design for the series is by Hisashi Hirai ("Mobile Suit Gundam Seed", "Sokyu no Fafner", "Infinite Ryvius", "Heroic Age"), mecha design by Tsutomu Suzuki ("Zone of Enders", Kurokami the Animation", "Bokurano") and music by Conisch ("Hitohira", "Hipira: The Little Vampire"). "Linebarrles of Iron" is animated by Gonzo.
"Linebarrels of Iron" Volume 1" comes with a total of 12 episodes, with six episodes on two DVD's.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Linebarrels of Iron: Volume 1" features pretty solid animation. The artistic backgrounds are nicely lighted and shaded. Character designs are also well done and feature the character designs with a lot of shading and featuring the character in a variety of emotions. Also, the series features a lot of mecha. Each pilot on both sides with their own machina and abilities definitely brings in this other element to the series. There is a lot of action featured in "Linebarrels of Iron" and a lot of destruction. GONZO did a spectacular job with the animation and a series that I hope receives the Blu-ray treatment.
Audio is in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound and Japanese Stereo. Both voice acting for the English and Japanese are well done. The English dub is very well done and was quite pleased with the amount of action and sound effects. Good use of surround channels and good punchy bass for booms from the subwoofer. I definitely would love to hear this soundtrack ala lossless audio if brought to Blu-ray. But for the most part, English dub soundtrack is well done and more immersive. Japanese soundtrack is very good but only in stereo but if you have a home theater receiver capable of setting audio on all channels, it definitely makes the soundtrack much more immersive.
Subtitles are in English.
"Linebarrels of Iron: Volume 1" comes with the following special features:
* EPISODE 6 - A Radiant Night Audio Commentary - Featuring audio commentary by Caitlin Gass (ADR Director), Alexis Tipton (Emi) and Josh Greeley (Kouichi)
* Music Video: Proud - (3:42) The full animated music video for "Proud".
* Promotional Video - (1:22) The original Japanese promotion for "Linebarrels of Iron". Subtitled in English.
* Original Japanese TV Spots - (1:19) The original Japanese TV commercials.
* Textless Opening Song - (1:47) Opening theme song by JAM Project.
* Textless Closing Song - (1:35) The ending theme by Maaya Sakamoto.
* Trailers - FUNimation Entertainment trailers
"Linebarrels of Iron" is enjoyable, action-packed, sexy and mecha driven anime series with a twist.
I really enjoyed this series. For one, it was interesting to have the protagonist that was mentally unstable. No, nothing like Shinji of "Neon Genesis Evangelion", the character of Kouichi had this unstable mentality because of his ego and willingness to become this "ally of justice". In some sort of twisted way, he sort of reminded me of Kira of "Death Note" and Kouichi trying to exact his way of justice and having so much power getting caught up in his head.
Also, this mecha anime series contains a little bit of that "harem" style in which there are many female characters who start to show interest towards Kouichi, something you really don't see from a mecha anime series and also because it's harem, it has its share of a little fan service. Especially as the female pilots thinks that to show their appreciation to an Earthling, they must take off all their clothes. Granted, there is no nudity in "Linebarrels of Iron" but it added that sexual element to the series which mecha otaku's who enjoyed series like "Gravion" or "Gurren Lagann" will enjoy.
So, far the first half of the anime series has featured quite a bit of action and it's going to be interesting to see what happens when both organizations go all out. I can imagine that this series is going to switch to serious mode during its second half as JUDA and the Katou Organization pilots battle each other and I can imagine that characters are probably going to get killed in battle.
But what I found important with this series is that each episode is connected and they are fun. No filler episodes. With so many characters featured in this series, there is a good amount of character development and a very good balance of humor and action. And that is what makes "Linebarrels of Iron" so addicting and enjoyable.
As for the DVD, this is a pretty solid release that actually has a good number of special features than just the opening and ending theme songs. Character and mecha design especially the artistic backgrounds are well done. The series is also well-acted both in Japanese and English. Personally, this is one series that I hope FUNimation Entertainment considers for a Blu-ray release. It's a really fun, action-packed series that I can imagine, will look and sound great via HD.
Overall, the first volume of "Linebarrels of Iron" was exciting and a good amount of mecha action, humor, fan service and more. Definitely recommended!
Released across two discs, Linebarrels of Iron comes packaged as a pair of thin packs within an outer cardboard slipcase and consists of episodes 1-12. The show comes in at a total runtime of 300 minutes and wears an appropriate TV MA (mature, 17+) rating due to animated violence, a little bit of rough language, female topless nudity, and implied sexual encounters.
Language options are standard sub & dub with both an English dub and original Japanese soundtrack (either in Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround) & the choice of English subtitled if so inclined to turn them on.
Extras include a commentary by the English cast & staff, Promotional Video, Japanese TV Spots, Music Video: Proud, textless opening and closing songs, and a host of fresh Funimation trailers on the second disc.
The story, which isn't overly complex or poorly edited to appear deeper than it really is, goes something like this: Set in 2019, we follow along on the exploits of junior-high school student Kouichi Hayase, who spends his days being bullied at school while reluctantly relying upon the physical protection of his childhood friend, Hideaki Yajima.
His life is forever changed when traversing a nearby park on his bicycle while running an errand for the class bullies and an artificial satellite falls from orbit. Crushed, presumably to death, it is later revealed that the accident was not in fact a fallen satellite, but rather the Machina mecha, Linebarrel's out-of-control entry from earth orbit. Lying next to the downed robot and bloody young man is a fully naked beautiful woman (Emi Kizaki), the apparent pilot of the machine.
Through a fairly interesting explanation, it is revealed that in the moment of contact, young Kouichi became a "Factor"; the name given to Machina pilots who possess a physical link with the robot itself. Since the link works both ways, Kouichi discovers that he possesses incredible physical strength as a result of the merger as well. Before long he decides to follow Emi's advice and join JUDA, the world's largest medical equipment maker, which happens to secretly own several other Machina robots for the purpose of protecting humanity.
On the surface you may believe that this prose is nothing unique among the mecha genre: the secret organization, the regular school-aged kid with the ability to be the savior of the human race, fan service galore, a requisite beach-episode and so on and perhaps in some capacity, you would be correct. However, what makes this piece unique is a pair of elements that go a long way toward interesting entertainment: 1) Pacing- It is so nice to encounter a mecha property that doesn't attempt to be Evangelion. The story builds on a linear, episode-by-episode basis (rather than jumps all over the timeline in effort to appear deeper than it really it is), and existential themes are not forced down the viewer's throat in the process. 2) Unpredictability- This is a tale that succeeds on its own merit: characters you like die, the good guys don't always win, the world isn't fair. Here's a show that likes to toss plot twists into the mix! Viewer interest is never forced and the surprises just plain work.
Visuals deserve praise as well with many smooth computer-generated sequences per episode providing a fantastic scope of size and sheer devastational power of the machenas. When blended with that unrivaled sense of pacing mentioned above and it's clear that Masamitsu Hidaka, perhaps most well-known as the director of Pokémon, takes his craft very seriously!
Japanese band Ali Project provides the opening and closing themes as well as several of the scores throughout and just nails the mood of the anime with catchy, upbeat vocals atop musical themes that hint toward a slightly more sinister depth: A metaphor for the innocence lost in the show's main story arc itself perhaps.
In all, I found the first 12 episodes of Linebarrels to be delightfully entertaining. The blend of elements and near-perfect pacing provide much to be excited about and the tight visuals only further compliment the storytelling. Whether or not any more episodes will follow is yet to be determined but I, for one, certainly hope so and eagerly await such news.
I was really surprised by this series.. It's good all the way around. the animation, voice acting, and soundtrack are all great.I'm not a fan of the animation style where the characters have lines drawn on their cheeks just below their eyes, but I can get used to it. The story is pretty good. It's a little different from your typical Mech series like Gundam. It's more mature. There is a bit of language, a little nudity, and some seriously suggestive stuff. I'm not not a big fan of Mech animes in general, but this series has plenty of other elements to keep things well rounded. It's kind of similar to Gundam Seed Destiny and Full Metal Panic. I think that fans of those shows will enjoy Linebarrels of Iron.
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