Posted by psgels on 16 June 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews


I first learned about Overman King Gainer through its OP that you’ll either absolutely love or absolutely hate. In my case, it was the former, so I just had to watch the series, hoping that it would be more than just a cheesy mecha-show. As it turns out, twenty-five years after creating Gundam, Tomino still knows how to make a good anime.

As it turns out, he left the realism as seen in Mobile Suit Gundam for what it is (after all, after creating 200 episodes and various movies of Gundam, how much more can you play with realism?) and instead he decided to focus on creativity. The result is a series that might be nothing special when concentrating on the big picture, but is filled with lots and lots of details that sparkle with creativity. The setting in the middle of Siberia, the Exodus where entire cities travel for hundreds of miles, looking to “break free”, the mobile suits designs, you can see that a lot of time has been spent to make the setting as original as possible, and it really works.

Tomino also didn’t forget how to pull off good action. In this series, there are no episodes dedicated to intermezzos or aftermaths. Every single episode has something fun in store for its viewer, leaving hardly any chance to get bored. So much is happening on-screen. This is really an anime that’s meant as entertainment, and I call this mission accomplished.

Interestingly, Overman King Gainer has the same weakness as Mobile Suit Gundam: both have a main character that becomes the pilot of the main mecha through very questionable reasons. This one needs a bit of minutes to get the hang of it, after which he can pilot the thing as a master, only because he happens to be good at video games. This will indeed give you improved reflexes, but there’s also the matter of getting accustomed to the new controls, and learning to endure the physical strain on your body while fighting.

The plot overall isn’t the most solid ones around by far. During some fights, the writers pull random powers out of thin air, just to keep the story flowing smoothly, and there are quite a few sloppy explanations that rely too much on the viewer’s imagination. The ending also goes on for too long. I really feel that this would have been perfect for 22 or 23 episodes, simply because the climax takes bloody ages, becoming a bit too serious for its own good. Thankfully, this series manages to finish with the bang that it was supposed to deliver, but the road to this descends to a generic “stop the world from getting destroyed”-plot that moves too far away from what made the rest of the series so enjoyable.

It’s interesting to see the evolution of such a prominent director. Overman King Gainer isn’t better than Gundam, but instead it’s fresh and fun. If you liked series as Gurren Lagann or Code Geass, you’ll probably like this one as well, and personally I enjoyed this one the most: it’s got the fun and down-to-earth factor that Code Geass seems to be lacking, and the engaging storyline that I was missing in Gurren Lagann. It’s far from perfect, but very enjoyable nonetheless. I wonder what Tomino’s up to right now. He hasn’t released anything since the Wings of Rean, has he?

9 Responses

  1. Camario says:

    I’ve been hearing good things about this for a while, but personally I still have mixed feelings about Tomino as a director.

    Still, I guess this bumps it up in my watch list, just need to get through Baccano first.

    Btw, in an entirely unrelated subject, I finally watched the Phoenix TV series you reviewed here a couple of years ago. Excellent series and, yes, Tezuka really went much further than I thought he would, in a certain arc. Won’t say more, to reduce spoilers.

  2. Realism is overrated. I’ll definitely check this out. ^^

  3. The thing with King Gainer is that it’s mostly just fun to watch. That and the whole city travelling across the tundra in rows thing is a really cool idea and neat to look at.

  4. Phelps says:

    I think that the biggest problem with King Gainer are the dialogues.

    It has pretty good story, setting, characters and mecha, however the lines the characters speak don’t “feel” natural. I also think several plot points became confusing due to these deficiencies in the script.

    But it’s still a very enjoyable series, and my favorite anime OP.

  5. senerikfred says:

    That’s. . .some OP. . .

  6. Hunter-Wolf says:

    Kinda reminds me of Eureka .. or maybe Eureka was inspired by this … it seems to mix creativity with a tiny bit of realism and an epic cast of varied characters ( mostly ship crews )

    Psgels .. if you liked this one then you might as well like Eureka 7 ( which was fantastic )

    I actually saw the main mecha in a PS2 game trialer that mixed many mecha fighting each other ( it had the one from Eureka 7 too ) .. and i actually thought the design was very creative and looked cool rendered in 3D … might give it a watch to see if it is better than E7 or not ^_^

  7. miden says:

    guess ill take a look at this oneXD~

  8. Teru says:

    Hunter-Wolf, the similarity with Eureka 7 can be easily explained, both shows have the same character designer, Kenichi Yoshida.

  9. Hunter-Wolf says:

    Teru, thanks .. that explains a lot … but what i saw from King Gainer ( intro and an AMV ) it seems the similarity extends more than that … the main mecha seems to be more organic on the inside and most of the characters seem to be crew members on battleships … also there is the saving the world theme … if someone saw both i think he/she can confirm that … i’m not saying they are identical .. but they rather share many themes .. and of course the character designs too.

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  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 11:14 PM)
    Synecdoche is incredibly rich in detail, and keen return viewers can find a lot of things they missed the first time thru. Kaufman didn’t have a single teacup in a shot that didn’t mean something. Pacing is a bit of an issue, but if you notice the passage of time you can see that was deliberate as well. The movie could’ve been livelier, but for a movie about death and decay that would’ve been a bit of a sell-out.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 11:01 PM)
    @Emma: Birdman and Synecdoche have a lot of thematic elements in common, and given that Synecdoche was released in 08 makes me realize that Alejandro González borrowed quite a bit from it; although in the end they are different enough to justify Birdman’s existence. Where Synecdiche was a better written movie, I feel that Birdman was the better directed one.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:15 PM)
    And I’d go as far to say this beats out birdman for me by miles.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:14 PM)
    The film is a solid mood piece thanks to the in tone cinematography, a great performance from Hoffman that along with his characters drama makes for an emotionally investing film. And before it gets TOO sad theres all those bits of dark humour fitted in there that work out pretty well. This is probably my favourite work by Kaufman currently.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:14 PM)
    Well Bam, I had a go of synecdoche there. A bit of a slow burner, near the end slightly drawn out, however that last stretch was forgiven by that bonkers ending.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 01:23 PM)
    The voice of the main character got kind of annoying though, the dub wasn’t all that good either.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 01:22 PM)
    This was based on/was a homage to a series by the Gigantor creator and having grown up with gigantors 90s reboot this felt like a nice throwback, plot is fairly simple but used effectively. It’s a shame that it feels like there was more to tell but at seven episodes I suppose it avoids outstaying its welcome.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 01:20 PM)
    Decided to marathon Giant Robo, I think this was mentioned by someone on here before. I guess it was fairly entertaining, great action direction, looked good for its time, you don’t notice the hour long episodes go by, adequate characters, nice retro artstyle also, not sure if I got excited over this as big O and Mazinger however but still fun enough nonetheless.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 07:10 AM)
    Seeing Hoffman in before the devil knows your dead and his character being dependent on drugs, that was another thing that hit me a bit knowing the circumstances of his death. Watching most wanted man I could also see that he was wearing out physically.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 07:00 AM)
    This is not Anno bitching about otakus jacking off to his characters and turning around and selling Rei panties, this isn’t the idiots at Shaft throwing around meaningless camera angles and the oh-so-symbolic teeth brushing scenes, this is a human being looking you in the eye with fear and telling you that he’s dying; morbid, honest, moving and remarkable.

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