Kurogane No Linebarrels (The Experiment To Destroy Gar Forever….Or Perhaps Just The Real Robot Genre)

It’s Like….He’s Both Shinji Ikari And Gai Daigouji At The Same Time….Yet He Makes Both Look Like The Greatest Characters In The World

Calling it right now, Kurogane No Linebarrels is a conspiracy to try and forever destroy the image I get whenever I picture gar pilots and real robot mecha anime.  Normally everytime a character starts making speeches about justice I immediately go into a muscle flexing tic and fall into a trance.  With Kouichi my only response was, “……Is this guy for real or is this some sort of joke”.  No, unfortunately this guy is for real…..I think, and I get the sense that whoever was in charge of coming up with the concept for this character decided to mash the two most overused tropes in mecha anime leads into one dude and see how it worked.  Unfortunately unlike Simon the Driller it doesn’t.  At least not yet, that’s for for damn sure.

You see, Simon worked as a character because he was allowed to grow from a squirrely and timid nobody kid digging below the surface of the Earth into the manliest man the galaxy had ever seen over the course of 26 episodes.  He also had a role model in Kamina to whose manliness he could aspire and took from that man his greatest aspects (courage, strength, charisma), while he worked to eliminate his worst aspects (recklessness, stupidity, arrogance) on his way to becoming a hero.

Kouichi goes from getting harassed by bullies at school, to claiming justice is on his side afterward in what seems like it really just had to be a joke, to having a giant robot fall almost on top of him and deciding he’s the guy because he get’s to pilot it……all within the span of one episode.  But what there’s more.  After somehow punching through a wall with his bare fists, which causes the girl he’s been hanging out with for the past few minutes to remember her name (no idea how these two plot points are actually supposed to be related), she invites him to touch her breast in order to summon Linebarrel which promptly appears through a portal in the sky.  Kouichi who is now suddenly “the guy” then manages to leap into it’s open cockpit by jumping what must be at least 20 feet off the ground WHILE carrying Emi in his arms like some sort of wannabe hero and then proceeds to beat up some other robots in the area.

Speaking of making no sense…….okay well…..that is unless we learn that Kouichi has an 8th dan black belt in Karate, is a cyborg or has “the potential”, Emi has a communicator implanted in her breasts, and Linebarrel has portal techology all within the span of the next episode.  Whatever the case, times definitely ticking on the explanation for Kouichi’s sudden Clark Kent to Superman transformation.  Now speaking of sudden feats of strength, did anybody imagine that they were hearing the 6 million dollar man bionic sound effect when Kouichi suddenly grabbed Emi and leapt into the cockpit?  And now I’m drawing a blank….

Okay, wow….I sort of understand where Omni was coming from when he couldn’t really think of anything to say.  Truthfully speaking, this opening episode really didn’t do anything for me, and it certainly didn’t do much for the mecha genre.  Watching something like Kurogane No Linebarrel episode 1 for a first mecha series would almost certainly put anybody off the genre, and I wouldn’t really blame them.  It makes use of almost all of the horrid real robot cliches out there in just the first episode.  Let’s do this checklist style:

– Whiny and pathetic student for a lead who suddenly ends up becoming the pilot of a giant robot that he immediately knows how to pilot like a natural (check)

– Arrogant teenager for a lead who thinks he’s the greatest pilot ever and on the side of justice (somehow check)

– Mysterious girl who becomes an acquaintance of the male lead and grants him “the power” (check)

– Shadowy organization with an ominous agenda that is wreaking havoc around the world (check)

– Opposing good organization that appears poised to stop shadowy organization (check)

I’m really not at all inspired by this show, and it doesn’t help that the opening episode literally gives me nothing to look forward to for the next one (nothing I would call a hook at least), nor does it really give me anything relevant to whatever the eventual plot could be in the episode itself. Names, faces and mecha action is pretty much the sole offering of Kurogane No Linebarrels first outing.  A lot of shows do this for the first episode, but not many make it seem like it wouldn’t be a potential loss if I didn’t bother to watch the next episode.  There is the possibility like with any series that has just begun that it will somehow improve slightly and work out it’s own little semi-unique story in the much saturated sub-genre of Real Robot anime, but for some reason I doubt it.

Perhaps it’s because it has just about everything I can think of that people love to loathe in terms of uninspired mecha anime series. Contributors include Hisashi Hirai with his usual stable of copy/pasted character designs (which look especially unwelcoming here because of the artist’s habit of drawing them with really small eyes and this scribble/blush effect under everyone’s eyes that just looks all kinds of awful), and Ali Project with the opening (seriously, does anyone outside of Japan even like this duo?).  The series also makes use of Gonzo’s preferred style of CG mecha (which look no better or worse then the CG used in Burst Angel 4 years ago).  Not a good combination and I’d swear it’s almost deliberate or something and they are trying to turn people off in anyway they can. Is Gonzo trying to pull a The Producers or an Uwe Boll with their latest projects or is this stuff (Hirai, CG Mecha and Ali ProjecT) really just that popular in Japan?  You be the judge.

Anyway, I feel compelled to say something positive about this show before I sign off for the night so here goes.  Well…….I guess I could offer that Jun Fukuyama and Jouji Nakata’s always welcome voices were fairly solid.  The music which gave me the sudden urge to flip the light switch in my room off and on while it was playing could also be described as decent…..that is if I felt it were in any way matched deliberately to or fit any of the scenes in which there was music.  GAaaaaaaaaaaaah, I’m supposed to be positive here, but really what can I offer?  I joked earlier tonight on Animesuki that Kurogane No Linebarrels might be the candidate to replace Soko No Strain as the worst modern real robot anime I could think of in recent memory, but truthfully, if it keeps up the presentation it gave me with episode 01 then it just might achieve that distinction by default by the time we hit episode 5.

Let me just say one more thing.  I know I normally object to bringing the issue of studio into discussions about the anime they produce, but Gonzo is really starting to feel like the anime equivalent of a pulp novel publisher.  Every season they come out with at least 2-3 new series which I would describe as awful (Dragonaut) to mediocore (Strike Witches) and based purely in the realm of light distractions of possible intrigue.  The whole Crunchyroll distribution method also reminds me of the kind of thing a pulp novel publisher would use.  Most of them were so cheap, sleazy (for lack of a better word) and shoddy (both in a physical and artistic sense) that they just couldn’t get on the shelves of your regular retail medium.  Most outlets just wouldn’t have them so the publisher would have to find unground methods for distribution.  Crunchyroll and the internet seems like the same thing, and gives the impression that TV stations just won’t have a lot of Gonzo’s series because they don’t think they are worth the timeslot and draw.  Even though Linebarrels does indeed have three broadcasters, I still get that vibe.

I really think Gonzo could use an image overhaul, something like one big series in the same vain as Last Exile to help clear their name of that B-Anime/Pulp Fiction label that I tend to attribute to them as of late.  Gonzo is a big studio, they can deliver some hits, it’s just a matter of consolidating their efforts into making something remarkable.  Anyway, I’m going to be keeping my eyes on Kurogane No Linebarrels as I’m really to see if it’s going to turn out to be decent or if it really will continue down the path to becoming one of the worst mecha series ever made.

Rating: Two And A Half Out Of Ten

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13 Responses to “Kurogane No Linebarrels (The Experiment To Destroy Gar Forever….Or Perhaps Just The Real Robot Genre)”


  1. 1 tigerlily October 4, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Dude i strongly recomed you to read the sourse material, is two or three clicks away in onemanga.com and then after viewing some ep you could do a revaluation of the series and see for your self why gonzo kill it at first shoot, then you could see the reason i like the manga and it’s for the character development, even if at the begining of the first two volumes he acts like a complete bastard and damn proud of it.

  2. 2 Kaioshin Sama October 4, 2008 at 7:24 am

    @Tigerlily: Wait, so you are telling me that Gonzo essentially did something with the source material for this series that makes it unworkable by the end of the first episode? You piqued my curiousity a little so perhaps I will check out a little bit of the manga some time this week.

    Okay, actually, I’ve been reading around a little and heard from some people (no source I trust based on word alone yet though) that they squashed a volume worth of character development for Kouichi into one episode worth of material. That’s part of the reason why I’m curious enough to read the manga. I want to see if this is indeed true.

  3. 3 Camario October 4, 2008 at 7:27 am

    Essentially what I wrote at Omni’s, really.

    I don’t know what was changed from the manga, and don’t see a reason to find out, but so far this is fairly traditional and derivative. Not terribly bad, but not special either. Simply good to kill a little bit of boredom, at least until we see where this series is trying to go.

    That’s not hard though: I even remember being somewhat entertained by Souko no Strain, now that you mention it, probably not for any particularly good reason but at least it seemed amusing at the time.

    Though indeed…the main lead seems quite uninspiring. The weird, perhaps rather senseless antics are within my limits, so I don’t really mind them as long as we do get some answers or exposition within a couple of episodes. I doubt it, but it’s not impossible by any means.

  4. 4 drmchsr0 October 4, 2008 at 7:54 am

    Kyosuke Nanbu.

    ’nuff said.

  5. 5 Elysion October 4, 2008 at 8:35 am

    “Soko No Strain as the worst modern real robot anime I could think of in recent memory”

    Heresy, it was far more intresting than most, IMO.I was far more intrested by SnS than G00 for exemple.

    Anyway, don’t expect too much from the manga.I read the first chapters and I barely remember them.It wasn’t bad…..just ordinary…

  6. 6 Vallen Chaos Valiant October 4, 2008 at 11:19 am

    “I really think Gonzo could use an image overhaul, something like one big series in the same vain as Last Exile to help clear their name of that B-Anime/Pulp Fiction label that I tend to attribute to them as of late.”

    The current bet is that GONZO is doing exactly that:
    http://celestialkitsune.wordpress.com/2008/09/09/shangri-la-anime-eiichi-ikegami/

    I am not saying Shangri-la would definite work out like Last Exile; to be honest, I have very low expectations for them. But it seems this is the next big thing Gonzo is trying to do in order to rescue its reputation.

  7. 7 Auriga October 4, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    I just finished reading the available chapters in onemanga (which spans from volumes 1 to 5), and after reading two reviews of the first episode I must say I’m very disappointed with the anime. The manga (so far) is really good (it also helps that the art is freaking amazing) and reading it really got me worked up for the anime version. Alas, I might just wait for the entire manga to finish instead.

    Anyways, for those interested, here are some differences (and obviously, manga spoilers, so read at your own risk) between the manga and the anime:

    – There’s a three-year (I believe) time skip after the Linebarrel crashes on Kouichi. And there’s a good plot twist involved here.

    – Wussy Kouichi hardly gets any development. And his arrogant version isn’t simply all talk (but yeah, “ally of justice”) – he even starts out as a gang leader who also happens to be a model student, which all the more justifies (sorta) his arrogance.

    – Emi never has amnesia. Even more, although she’s introduced early on in the series (as Juda’s means to monitor Kouichi), the two only get to interact with each other in… Volume 5? Or was it 4? Yes, it takes that long.

    – The manga is supposed to be ecchi, but in reality it’s really tame. Makes me wonder where the ecchi bits in the anime (as people described) came from.

    I really recommend checking the manga out.

  8. 8 Gideon October 4, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    For some reason the manga never managed to win me over. Which is odd, because it offers nearly everything that makes a manga worth reading. Rather interesting overall story, good art, and giant mechas duking it out. So why didn’t I like it? I blame the characters. Not one of them managed to win my sympathies. Having concluded said fact; I stopped reading.

    Im not saying the manga is bad or anything; it just didn’t work for me personaly. As for the anime: based in this review and my past experience with the manga -> I’m not watching it.

    Recommendation: read the manga. The manga is always better.

  9. 9 Terrestrial Dream October 5, 2008 at 12:50 am

    Appreciate on Kaio for the review, I was thinking of watching this but it seems that it is quite bad. And looking at the screen above the characters look pretty bad and seems kinda low-budget. Also on Gonzo, their manga base animes from what I saw are mediocre and so I really can’t see this getting better.

  10. 10 Epi October 5, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    Soukyuu no Strain was actually pretty good for what it was. It never pretended to be a ‘great’ series, just a fun distraction, and as always Kawasumi Ayako was excellent.

    I dunno Kaioshin, read a bit differently your post could have easily been about the first two episodes of Code Geass season 1, if you’d never seen either show. As well, how is your Gonzo bashing any different from the Sunrise bashing that a lot of people do, even if you choose not to use as ‘strong’ words? Not trying to pick a fight, but just saying…

  11. 11 Kaioshin Sama October 6, 2008 at 4:26 am

    Truth be told I really have nothing at all against Gonzo in a personal sense. I don’t think the B-Anime style production gimmick is bad per se since I don’t have to watch all or any of it and can take my pick from whatever does interest me to pass the time (since Gonzo usually has a variety of picks per season), I just don’t think it’s a particularly strong image for a company to portray.

    I’m also not beyond giving Kurogane No Linebarrels a chance to get the ball rolling, but this opening episode was extremely weak in my opinion and didn’t have anything that grabbed me right off the bat. It also had in my opinion some unforgivably weak artwork for an opening episode, which is where most series are supposed to be making their case. A slow cliche start can be forgivable in an anime, but not when there’s so many other things working against the show providing a reason to even watch it.

    If I had to give any real suggestion to people considering KnL it would be to wait a little while before watching so one can see if it can shake off that derivative feel it’s got going right now.

    For the record, the primary reason I don’t like SnS is as follows:

    – I am Sara Werec and I am lacking in confidence as a result of my brother being a Union traitor. As a result I let people on the ship bully me and I wish I could get my Onii-chan back.
    – I have this friend named Lotti who is really nice to me, but my Brother killed hers. Later she’ll suddenly hate me for it even though I had absolutely nothing to do with it whatsoever.
    – Oh no my brother is attacking, what should I do?
    – Pep talk from Lotti
    – I’ll fight him off in my Strain. I did it! Now I think I have the confidence to do the right thing and kill my brother for the greater good. I will resolve to do this….but I’ll be right back where I started by the next episode anyway.

    Rinse and repeat for the first 3 quarters of the series to give Sara cyclical character development to end all cyclical character development. Worse though is that she’s really the only character they try to develop besides Lotti and it still doesn’t work right.

    Add to that other aspects like flimsiest reason for a good soldier turning into a maniacal supervillain that I have ever seen (Ralph Werec is still my all time worst villain in an anime ever and I still don’t know why his hair colour changed from blond to stereotypical evil bishounen silver when he became a villain), an ongoing war that doesn’t actually matter for anything in the storyline yet keeps getting referenced, and some really boring mecha designs and uninteresting battles and Soko No Strain is quite the snoozer.

    I’m not actually joking when I say the highlight of the show for me was Lotti in the shower and running on a treadmill. That’s what I had to settle for as I waited in vain for something interesting to actually happen. In the end I realized that the whole series sank or swam based on just how much one gave a damn about Sara Werec’s storyline, and since I didn’t find it interesting at all and was unable to empathize with her or her brother complex (and the brother himself didn’t help either, did I mention Ralph Werec?), that was the driving force for her character, that singlehandedly did the series in.

    Honestly, I would have preferred to see an updated anime version of the A Little Princess story over them trying to turn a classic novel into a mecha series.

  12. 12 Epi October 6, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    So I just watched the episode in question, and I don’t really see where you’re getting your confusion from, and why you think the main guy is supposed to be gar in any way…

    From what I get, the main guy is this loser who gets picked on and can’t stand up for himself, but likes to think at least in his head that he’s not such a wimp (he admits this himself in the episode). When he finally does discover that he has powers, he’s just really giddy that in fact his fantasy of not being a wimp is true. I’m sure as the story progresses if this is a halfway decent show, we’ll see him start to realize that power doesn’t make someone good or bad, and he could have always been better if he just stood up for himself earlier.

    As for the powers, it’s pretty obvious that something bad has happened to him when the Linebarrel falls on him. Judging from the blood stains soaking through his body to the back and the front (which strangely enough his friend doesn’t comment on) he miraculously survived being hit by a mecha. The girl is obviously related to the machine. As with anime convention of being ‘revived’, it’s pretty obvious what’s happened. The machine that fell on him saved his life by reincarnating/fixing him by giving him the power to drive the machine (thus his innate knowing how to drive it). As a side effect he gets super powers. Since only the driver of the machine has such powers, the girl which is associated with the machine recognizes this, and so she regains her memory… I dunno seems pretty straightforward to me.

    As for the animation, it’s not horrible, but we’ve been spoiled as of late. It’s no Macross Frontier or Gundam 00, but it’s on par/better than such shows as Fafner, Gigantic Formula and Heroic Age.

    If there is some problems with the show it’s that the main character is completely uninteresting and has little to no back story. I don’t care if he lives or dies, he seems like a loser to me with very little redeeming value. The plot meanwhile is quite mysterious and we’ll have to see how it plays out.


  1. 1 Kurogane no Linebarrels ~ Underrated stuff you wish you had watched (oh and final episode thoughts) « When Anime Past Meets Present Trackback on March 21, 2009 at 5:46 pm

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