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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  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:49 AM)
    I’m fairly fond of the artstyle sunrise used back in the 90s also.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:46 AM)
    Actually with old artstyles in mind, I watched an old ova called california crisis recently, the character design stood out for me, the ova itself is fairly trashy however, more of a guilty pleasure.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:31 AM)
    I still don’t like the art in madoka regardless though.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:29 AM)
    “Even if a series which has detailed backgrounds and a sharp dark tone features moe characters the show would be considered lighthearted and Moe, and any violence will come off as forced or even comical.”
    Madoka says otherwise.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:24 AM)
    But still even in terms of cutesy looking female characters, I’m still going to pick the old art over the new usually.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:23 AM)
    In general I would prefer character designs fit in with their genre usually. I do however believe that moe, fanservice and those oldskool designs have their place and where they are or aren’t appropriate.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:11 AM)
    @Emma: the old Madhouse style was also my favorite. Even tho they were cartoony it was still a much more realistic approach. I think we talked in length about how moe just took over the industry, to the point of making anime synonymous with that specific style.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:00 AM)
    Shiki was another example where I could forgive the terrible character designs because I was invested in the plot.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 03:55 AM)
    But where older art styles are concerned, its the character designs found in the likes of ninja scroll, ghost in the shell and wicked city that catch my interest most.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 03:49 AM)
    *some of the older artwork more

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