Saturday, August 8, 2009
One of the things I've always appreciated about Imagawa is his ability to maintain an air of whimsicality amidst apparent seriousness. He doesn't take things too seriously, but doesn't resort to cheese that can compromise badassery. Episodes 17 and 18 are vintage Imagawa in that regard. Giggles and fist pumps aplenty.
Episode 17 begins with Koji and Nishikiori's pursuit of an escaped Kedora and Dr. Hell and friends' attempt to quell Duke Gorgon. Duke Gorgon prompts a gigantic Greek column to shoot out of the earth, but then meets a quick and easy demise, promising however that he will return. The Kedora escapes into the column, prompting some gigantic roots to sprout out of the column and rush into the power plant. A lot of unfortunate workers are crushed. Koji and Nishikiori unexpectedly join forces with Dr. Hell to find and destroy the Kedora. Baron Ashura is sent to help them out. Upon entering the column, they find that the Kedora has hidden itself in an alternate-reality dream world replicating the past. The Kedora hopes to buy itself enough time to launch the column and itself into space.
By the end of episode 18, Baron Ashura has come away with some great character development, Duke Gorgon dies once more, some other key characters are killed in the process, and Zeus and Hades clash in a dazzling titanic battle that is the absolute highlight of the two episodes, which features Zeus doing his own rendition of the Rocket Punch.
Indeed, episodes 17 and 18 are neither short on activity nor entertainment. Unfortunately, despite the fun, there was still some disappointment to be had. First, these episodes do have their moments of nice-looking action, but it's obvious that production values are being limited by an anemic budget. The animation is horribly inconsistent, especially when it comes to matters of scale. Mazinger Z can approach the size of a mechanical beast in one scene, and then be small enough to stand as a tiny speck on a Mycenean warrior's shoulder the next. In terms of plot, I was really disappointed at how early and non-epically some of the characters died after the setup they'd been given. Then again, who knows. This is Imagawa after all, and he may very well be bringing these characters back in great fanfare later on. Or he may just have something else up his sleeve that will once more make me eat my words. Perhaps we can expect a possible entrance from Poseidon?