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COVERAGE - IRON MAN SERIES REVIEW
Iron Man Synopsis: Tony Stark arrives in Japan to help implement his goal of world peace by building the Arc Reactor, a carbon-neutral power plant, that once operational will be able to provide limitless (thus free) energy to the world. Set to retire his Iron Man persona, and about to mass-produce a line of Iron Man armor known as “Iron Man Dio,” Stark’s plans are derailed by a series of high tech Mech monsters. Zodiac, a top secret organization funded by the terrorist group A.I.M. is out to disrupt the Arc Station, steal the Dio armor and put an end to Iron Man. The Armored Avenger’s fight is only just beginning. The Iron Man Anime stars Adrian Pasdar as the voice of Tony Stark.
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Iron Man Series Review
By James Harvey
As I mentioned in my review for X-Men, my background knowledge in anime is pretty limited. I’ve seen some of the “must-see” titles – like Akira, Ninja Scroll, Ghost in the Shell, Street Fighter II, for example – and caught the odd episode of Dragon Ball Z, but aside from that? Zilch. Still, my interest in Marvel Anime was piqued – the line even included big names like Iron Man, X-Men, Wolverine and Blade – even with the weak reviews that were rolling in. I thought perhaps it would serve as a nice gate-way drug to bigger, better titles. And, you know what? I actually enjoyed Iron Man, and I wouldn’t mind digging deeper into the world of anime after all of this.
Tony Stark arrives in Japan to help implement his goal of world peace by building the Arc Reactor, a carbon-neutral power plant that, once operational, will be able to provide limitless (thus free) energy to the world. Set to retire his Iron Man persona, and about to mass-produce a line of Iron Man armor known as “Iron Man Dio”, Stark’s plans are derailed by a series of high tech Mech monsters. Zodiac, a top secret organization funded by the terrorist group A.I.M. is out to disrupt the Arc Station, steal the Dio armor and put an end to Iron Man. The Armored Avenger’s fight is only just beginning.
Iron Man, heavily influenced by the movie-interpretation of the Armored Avenger, tells a pretty basic story. Stark brings his Arc Reactor to Japan and…chaos ensues. It’s seen as a threat from all sides – political, business-wise, you name it – and Stark is relentlessly hounded from the first episode to the very end. There’s no real weird turns or shocking twists. By no means is it perfect – far from it – but I enjoyed the overall adventure. Iron Man comes along as a great, mature take on the character, but with the added bonus of robots duking it out in nearly every episode. And while there is a healthy dose of action, this show tends to throw the focus more on the business and political ramifications of what Stark is trying to accomplish. It’s not overbearing, but it’s not overlooked. There’s more than a few tense moments involving characters hunched over keyboards trying to defuse a nasty situation by clicking a few keys.
I can see why this is considered one of the weaker Marvel Anime titles, especially compared to X-Men or Blade. While it felt like X-Men has a narrative that was always being propelled forward with each episode, Iron Man takes some obvious breaks here and there. While the ongoing subplots remain lingering in the background, the series does get sidetracked on occasion for the odd ‘done-in-one’ tales. In fact, Iron Man feels more like a traditional animated series as opposed to X-Men. Still, the entire series does seem to wrap up nicely in the final two episodes, with nary a loose string.
The finished product here is also very different than the one that was teased, with changes to the animation quality and style, so I can also see why that would upset a fair amount of viewers. What we got wasn’t exactly what was expected, so the resultant backlash is understandable.
The series also suffers a bit from the “freak of the week”-curse, with Iron Man finding himself facing off against a new armored assailant with nearly each new episode. Zodiac keeps releasing these new threats over and over and, toward the end, they become very interchangeable and hardly different from the previous. The only time the series really breaks away from this is with the two-part finale. That being said, some of the “freaks” do play into the overall structure of the story so it doesn’t seem as obviously overt and repetitive, but it does get tiresome around the eighth or ninth episode.
Also, that cameo by Wolverine? Completely useless. It was kinda funny, yeah, but overall it served no purpose whatsoever.
When it comes to the voice acting, everyone across the board worked fine for me. While many found Adrian Pasdar to be a bit stiff in the role of Tony Stark, I thought he did a fine job. True, he started out a bit stiff in the first few episodes, but really came into the role for the second half of the series. In fact, by the end of it, he sounds pitch-perfect as Tony Stark, and I was impressed to hear him really give it his all during some of the action scenes.
Still, I really enjoyed Iron Man. It may not be the best Marvel Anime title, but I thought it stayed true to the comic book roots of Iron Man and spun some good tales. Nothing groundbreaking, mind you, but something Iron Man fans would likely get a kick out of. It’s really worth giving a shot, even for those not prone to watching anime. It’s not perfect, but it’s finite run helps the show tell a complete story with a satisfying conclusion, though...of course...with room for a sequel...
Continue to the Iron Man Home Video Release Review
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