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?