Akihabara Dennou Gumi
Released Year : April 4, 1998 to September 26, 1998
No of Episodes : 26
Genre : Adventure,Mecha,Sci-Fi,Shoujo
Plot : A "patapi" is a cute mechanical creature which is like a cyber pet. It can eat, sleep, play, and even help out its owners with some stuff. When Hibari Hanakoganei receives a patapi from a prince in her dreams, she is thrilled and names it "Densuke". When mysterious forces try to steal Densuke, Hibari discovers that Densuke is not just an ordinary patapi. Densuke has magical powers that allows it to transform into a powerful cyber-fighter who looks like Hibari. Hibari's friends also receive similar patapis, and together they form the Cyber Team in Akihabara. (Source: AnimeNfo)
Our Review : Another series with hopes of standing out by mixing a bunch of genres. And another example of how stupid it turns out to be when you think that all it takes is shoveling ideas without planning ahead.
STORY SECTION: 5/10 [Lost in Space]
Analysis: General Scenario 2/2, Pacing 1/2, Side Stories/Extra Spices 1/2, Believability/Reasoning/Realism 0/2, Conclusion 1/2
Ok, this series had no idea of what it was trying to be about. It kept jumping from one genre to another without ever utilizing their full potential. Here is what I mean:
- It has cute girls going to high school and doing the usual teenage stuff we see in Slice-of-Life. Looking for romance, fame, learn to cook, clean, dream about the future and the like. But they didn’t really manage to accomplish any of those. None got into a serious romantic relationship or clearly improved at something social.
- It promotes karaoke and pop idols. But none of the girls chased the carrier of a pop idol. And the girl who already was one, remained stale at it.
- It has cute little robots, called Patapi, transforming into busty, fighting chicks that protect the world. People keep talking about them all the time, showing us a Kids-paired-with-monsters story like Digimon or Shaman King. But it never gets into fanatic proportions, in order to brainwash us into blindly like them.
- It has girls transforming into powerful heroines and fighting an evil hidden organization in very repetitive and predictable ways, like in Mahou Shojo series. But it never exploits this aspect, as the battles are short and lame.
- It has numerous sleazy jokes about boobs and old men peeping at panties, like in Ecchi series. But it never goes too far and mostly repeats the same pattern, thus failing to be interesting for long.
- It has some Drama and Dementia aspects, as some characters have really messed up pasts. But none of these manage to absorb you, since they last too little and are almost abandoned from a point on.
- It has several Mysteries and Metaphysical overtones revolving around happiness, God and the Apocalypse. Quotes from the Bible keep popping up. Names and concepts from several mythologies and civilizations keep being used. Goals like world peace, immortality, the evolution of mankind and salvation of the soul are mentioned. But they are all presented in such vague ways that you eventually don’t care about them. Episode 22 is dedicated solely into explaining every mystery in just 20 minutes. It makes you more confused than satisfied.
- Robots, Nanomachines, space stations and several more provide a Sci-fi aspect as well. You get a scientific explanation about everything supernatural in the story but they could easily dub it “magic” without much worry.
I admit that this mix was very interesting and the story did try to explain everything. But in the end, it was a bunch of irrelevant ideas that went to waste. Nothing managed to truly stand out in all this mess and the ending was very disappointing. Although the series had potential for greatness, it screwed up big time in terms of plot and lame characters.
CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10 [Cookie cutter strikes again!]
Analysis: Presence 1/2, Personality 1/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 1/2, Catharsis 1/2
- All characters are stereotypes. You can find the same archetypes in 99% of anime. Just a quirk in behavior, a vague backdrop story, a different hair color and you’re done! None has a strong presence, none matures much and none really has real catharsis in the end.
- And once again, the villains outshine the heroines. They had goals, they had a decent story, a drama, an ideal, a twisted vision of aiding humanity. What did the heroines have? Tits and pink panties. You choose…
ART SECTION: 4/10 [Little girls with big robots]
Analysis: General Artwork 0/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 1/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 1/2
- Not only the series shows its years but it also has a minimalistic way of depicting objects and people. The colors are generally bright, human figures are drawn with only essential detailing and everything gives off a feeling of silliness. The only realism you will find in it, are the real photographs of historical events and of medieval drawings the animators scanned in some backgrounds. Generally old and plain.
- On the good side, there are numerous occasions where the background has interesting artwork (laboratories, space stations) and the characters interact with it in very likable ways. So, look for the (usually silly) things the characters will be doing with their surroundings.
- About the girls: Really big eyes, really short skirts, really dumb looks. The high school girls look like 10 year-olds. Clearly as a way to be moe enough for both male and female viewers. And they wear all those corny big ribbons, fluffy cloths and shiny leather that most series use as fetishes. There is a lot of focus on their boobs and underwear as constantly present fan service. Generally, the animators present the girls as male sexual phantasies without ever going too far into spicy details.
- About the boys: Who cares! This is a girl series! Males like fathers, male students and politicians were used just for more sexual jokes or for serious events. The main villains in the story are in fact men; both dreamy males and sinister middle aged men. But they will look so generic that you will not care about them.
- About the mecha and the monsters: Pathetic! They are ugly and crudely drawn. The best ones are the Divas and the Valkyries just because they look like sexy female warriors and not because they pack some serious equipment.
- There are lots of stills, repeated transformations and ridiculous deformity that really turn you off during the battles. Facial expressions lack vividness, body movement lacks liveliness. You clearly won’t watch the series for its action or special effects.
SOUND SECTION: 4/10 [Pop idols and The Apocalypse]
Analysis: Voice Acting 2/3, Music Themes 1/4, Sound Effects 1/3
- Very good voice acting as each character was talking with a distinctive tone of voice and was using a different form of dialogue. But it was always being wasted because of the crudely drawn characters and their silly grimaces. And you must bear some really lame high-pinch voices and Patapi squeks.
- Most songs were J-pop trash about teenage girl romance bull. The series promotes karaoke and pop-idols but using them during singing scenes was really out of place since there was complete lack of lip-sync. The rest were quite atmosheric, as they were serious and eerie and they were used during serious moments and important revelations.
- Sound Effects are as pathetic as the visual effects. You can easily skip those.
VALUE & ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10 [Been there, done that]
Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 0/3, Memorability 1/4
Well, if I hadn’t watched any other successful genre-mixing series, I would probably like it more. But since I have seen those in my Suggestion List, this title has nothing to offer.
There is also a movie sequel to the series but don’t expect anything more. That weird space station is to no-good and the girls are sent to save the day again. The animation is far better and the silly-looking characters to look a bit more serious and matured. But it is still the sequel to a series about cheesy battles, lame heroines and a metaphysical but terribly killed-in-presentation main idea. Shoo! Away with it!
VERDICT: 3.5 / 10
And then the naked girl rides her mechanical Pegasus and teleports to the pink volcano where the spinning tomato keeps singing about how small the porridge was one second ago. It picks its nose with the tail of a grape and… What? The story sucks? But it has so many interesting ideas!
Successful multi-genre-mixing series: The Vision of Escaflowne and Brigadoon.
Successful mix of Mecha with Religion and Metaphysics series: Neon Genesis Evagelion, Ghost in the Shell, Zegapain, Ergo Proxy, Argento Soma, Betterman, Soul Taker and Rahxephon.
Successful Mahou Shojo series: Princess Tutu, Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura.
Successful Pop Idol series: Looking For The Full Moon and Perfect Blue.
Successful Kids-paired-with-monsters series: Digimon.