September 20, 2009

“I guess this is the mindset of the people of Domepolis…”

Exodus Specialist Gain Bijou, Overman King Gainer

Well, truth be told, I don’t know what to say.

The first time I got wind of Overman King Gainer, I immediately linked it to Eureka 7. It was until much later that I learnt that the only similarities both series had was that they both had the same character designs, with explained the uncanny resemblance. Nevertheless, the link stuck in some small buried form because after watching both, I felt that King Gainer was a bit lacking. Not lacking as in “this makes sense… NOT” lacking, but “hey i just blinked and did X shoot Y” sort of lacking. You see, the action is TOO FAST.

The story is such: Gainer Sanga is your average teen living in a not-so-average world; in the distant future, Earth is uninhabited.

To be specific, large portions of it are uninhabited; back in the past, an environmental disaster of epic proportions occured due to mankind’s rapid advancement in civilization. Realizing their mistake of taking too much from the land, the survivors gathered their comrades and left their homes to live in the most inhospitable areas ever in order to let wildlife and nature recover in the equator and other areas, in specially constructed cities called Domepolis (plural Domepoli); think the Sahara Desert or freezing Siberia. The overall management of the Domepoli are headed by the London IMA (International Management Authority, according to the Sage Wiki) and the enforcement of laws in the Domepoli are tasked by Saint Regan, a branch of the IMA.

This is where the meat of the story comes in. Saint Regan is the law enforement arm, but the supplying of the Domepoli (seeing that the limited space in the structure and the harsh environment outside allows for pathetic crop-growing opportunities) with essentials and other supplies are handled by private firms. The story starts with one Domepolis where Gainer Sanga, an orphan, and the Siberian Railroad Company, a large private firm with a monopoly over what is most likely a large number of the Domepoli in Russia.

Of course, people have unpredictable emotions; after an unstipulated amount of time possibly spanning at least a century or two, people have begun to desire to leave the Domepoli in movements called Exodus, to go back to their ancestral lands (the Exodus the series focuses on is on its way to J- I mean, “Yapan”). The London IMA and the private firms, presumably profiting from the people’s reliance on them, are fiercely reluctant to allow such Exoduses, and spread propaganda about the environment-harming effects of Exodus on the environment, as well as putting down any movements they might find.

The entire series puts the viewer in a roller coaster from the very first minute; Gainer Sanga is a lone kid and a pro gamer of all pro gamers who spends much of his time hooked to the internet (or whatever passes for that). He still, however, goes to school and such, and this is when the roller coaster flies off its tracks a la Final Destination-style. Moments into his school day, Gainer is arrested by the Siberian Railroad Patrol, an arm of the Siberia Railway Company, for involment in an Exodus. He is thrown into a cell alongside other innocents, and one not-so-innocent Gain Bijou, a real Exodus member. When Gain breaks out Gainer goes with him, and he gets sucked up into the entire mess when he gets to pilot an Overman, a mech of days past. The Overman, who Gainer names King Gainer(ego much?) is key to helping the pro-Exodus people of that Domepolis escape in huge moving blocks of the city by completely showing the Siberian Railway Patrol people who’s the boss of who. The show continues with “monster of the Week”-like encounters with the Railway Patrol, but as it progresses the series gets a bit more intense in terms of action and reveals some hard truths about the past of the planet.

The cast of Overman King Gainer, while diverse, focused on only a few people; namely, Gainer, Sarah, his friend and a pro-Exodus member, Gain Bijou and his 1337 skills as an Exodus specialist, and Princess Anna, daughter of the duke of the Domepoli they are escaping from. Most characters hardly show any development, but the plus side is that all of them are pretty colourful to begin with, which solves that particular part of the show. The few that do develop have humorous scences and touching scenes to accompany that dialouge, making it all the more better to watch.

In terms of animation Overman King Gainer was, for the most part, cool and fine. No troubles here, and fight scenes that mattered ( for example Gainer/King Gainer V.S. Cynthia/Dominator) were given the utmost attention to make them truly breathtaking.

The backstory is fine, utlizing a fairly well-known but hardly-used plot involving the environment setting civilization back by a few notches. The show could have used a bit of time from their monster-of-the-week episodic encounters with the Railway Patrol to elaborate more on the origins of the Overmen though, as it is clear that they are not common items as most people and pilots drive Silhoutte Machines, bolt-and-nut real robots with ammunition weapons and metal joints. What makes the Overmen a step up from these is their ability to utilize a Photon Engine, which basically allows them to create force fields and projectiles among other things, from sheets of light emmited by the engines termed “Photon Mat”, or so I’m told by the English dub of the anime. The Overmen also use biomechanical fibres called Muscle Engine, which mimics real human muscle and of course, gives the Overmen much higher performance than other clanky robots in the series. While some Overmen are man-made and mass-produced in some way, the show makes mention of “early Overmen”, clearly machines of incredible power and a certain self-autonomy. The final boss of the series turns out to be one of these, and the mid-boss of the series was the cast’s first encounter with an “early Overman”. No other information has been presented about the past of the Overmen since then, however.

Despite being a bit rushed at the start and near the end, Overman King Gainer is a should-watch series, one notch up from if-you-have-time. It might not compare up to Eureka 7 or Mobile Suit Gundam where the story and character development is concerned, but the lighthearted tone of the story for the most part and the way characters wise up to their new situations quickly will leave you wanting to know more, rather than having to dread sitting through the next episode of bitch-slapping from the captain. The only problem is, sometimes things are so poorly explained and happen so fast, you might want to keep a ready finger on the rewind button if you’re watching the DVD version.


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