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Review of LineBarrels Of Iron

December 5, 2008

If you’re like me, then you’re probably a boy who’s been picked on for most of his entire life and has dreams of being a hero of justice who fights bad guys, gets a lot of respect, and pilot a giant mecha. And if you’re like me, then you’re like Kouichi Hayase, the protagonist of LINEBARRELS OF IRON, a new mecha show produced by GONZO. There’s really only one big difference between Hayase and myself (other than the fact he is a magically gifted Japanese kid and I’m a rather mundane American adult):

Hayase is a moron.

Now, let’s be honest here, raise your hands: was anyone surprised by that? There’s a 50% chance that becoming a mecha pilot reduces your IQ by about twenty points, and Hayase, unfortunately, does not get in the 50% that allow you to remain smart. He styles himself as a “hero of justice” (not kidding here) and strives to protect his hometown of Miura, Japan, but in the process of fighting the enemies, he ends up causing more property damage than PETA supporters on Thanksgiving. He even takes a swipe at the good guys (although, in his defense, he didn’t know they were good.) When he’s not getting his butt kicked, he starts acting like a swaggering braggart, which usually ends up getting him in more trouble. Oh, and his mecha–the titular LINEBARREL–comes with a naked chick named Emi Kizaki. It also has a cool teleportation ability that allows it to teleport to wherever he is. Initially, Hayase isn’t attuned enough to summon it on his own, so he requires some assistance.

And by assistance, I mean Kizaki’s breast. Yes folks, you read it right–in the beginning, he has to fondle her breast in order to summon the LINEBARREL. (You have to love those Japanese, making perversion mainstream.) Apparently GONZO realized that this might not be a good gimmick for the entire show (there is a distinct possibility even they have their limits) and so this is changed around the fourth or fifth episode, to where Hayase can summon it on his own.

The show itself is not that bad, but it does have a glaring problem: none of it is particularly fresh. It’s just another serving of all-too-typical giant robot fare. True, it presents the serving competently, but you’re not getting anything new. It has lots of action scenes involving lots of destruction, it has (seemingly hundreds) of embarrassing moments where the protagonist’s idiocy shines, and it even has Kizaki busting Hayase’s chops (quite literally) for multiple things, including looking at her undressing on a PSP. The show try to throw a curve ball by killing off Hayase’s best friend early on, but people die all the time in anime now, and that death only leads to Hayase entering a deep rage, which of course grants LINEBARREL epic powers and allows him to summon it at will. Yeah. That’s clichéd too. Oh, and the bad guys come from a parallel universe. Where have we seen that before? (These DUAL! realities are just going to PARELLEL their TROUBLES in this ADVENTURE.) And to top it all off, Kizaki–who I originally thought was in her twenties–ends up going to Hayase’s school as a fellow student. (It’s like pouring some BLEACH into your eyes.)

There is something I like about this show, however,–WARNING: AUTHOR IS ABOUT TO DIGRESS INTO LITERARY ANALYSIS ZONE–and that is the character rebirth Hayase experiences: being transformed, literally, from a dorky junior high school student to a “superhero” with a giant robot. Again, it’s clichéd, but it does seem to ask that question: “What would you do? How would you perform?” and seems to do it in a relatively realistic manner. Most anime I’ve seen somewhat gloss over the damage done, but LINEBARREL puts it up front and doesn’t try to ignore the consequences. And really, what would you do if you suddenly had a giant mecha? Would you flail around when nobody pays attention to you, demanding respect? Personally, I’d be reluctant to deploy LINEBARREL. Even though I’m 19 and Hayase is around 13-15, I still was like that around his age.

Overall, the show has a good story, believable characters, and some good presentation. The animation style (other than the mechas) seems a little old-fashioned, but I like it that way. (And I mean circa 1997/98, not 1985.) Unfortunately, I can’t give it an A; there’s just too much of it which has been rehashed a dozen times over. Still, if you’re bored, it won’t be too bad.

Great

Great

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