Posted by psgels on 17 December 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews

Madhouse, they’ve really established themselves as a powerhouse unlike any other animation studio, so when they announced their marvel project, I’m sure many people were looking forward to it: four twelve episode series, focusing on Iron Man, Wolverine, the X-Men and Blade. With two years of hype surrounding it, I was really looking forward to see what they could do with these premises. And then Iron Man finally aired. Oh boy.

Let’s start with the visuals. I usually don’t mind strange character-designs at all. In Iron Man though, people just look silly. The character-designs themselves aren’t particularly the problem, it’s just that all of the characters are drawn off-model 90% of the time. The result isn’t pretty: Tony Stark looks like a goat, one of the reporters looks like a warthog, it just screams uninvolved outsourcing all around. An interview with a Madhouse executive seems to hint at how the highest priority for their staff was spent on finishing the movie Redline, and it really shows that this had its effects on Iron Man.

If the graphics were just the issue then this could have been easily forgiven. But just about everything about Iron Man is just horrible mediocre. Take the plot: the series follows the tried and tested “first half random stories, second half plot”-pattern, and it fails at both of them. The random stories int he first half are just utterly stupid. Things are just there, without ever getting a reason why. They’re a complete mess at stupid decisions made by just about everyone. My favourite was the time in which Tony Stark gets attacked by a hacker, and the hilariously bad way in which he eventually gets defeated. Most of the stories though are so dull that they aren’t even bad enough to be funny.

The main story of this series on the other hand is just so ridiculously corny that it completely saps any kind of creativity that could have been put into it. These are especially the parts that feel like they were written by a twelve year old: it pulls the cheesiest twists in the book, over and over again. The dialogue is full of these cheesy morals without any attempt to give them depth: they’re completely shallow. Especially the final episodes are just one big soap opera that pull the kinds of plot twists that try to be sad but end up horribly corny and predictable.

That kind of a mess of a plot could in theory have been saved by the cast of characters… but no. They suck too. The worst is this reporter girl whose annoying antics have no place in this story, but every single character in this series is bad. Tony Stark has been turned in this moralizing womanizing dork, and the people around them lack any kind of creativity or even characterization.

I’ve been blogging for more than five years now. And seriously: I have never seen a worse season for Madhouse than the current Autumn Season. I wish I could say something positive about this series, and I guess that there is one episode that I actually liked. I mean the one with the psychic girl. It’s still riddled with problems, but at least it tried to be a bit genuine. The rest all is mediocre at best and while it may not be the worst series out there (hey, it’s nowhere as terrible as say KissxSis or Ladies Versus Butlers), this one could have been infinitely better, if it just was handled by a staff that actually cared about it. In the end, I can only say one positive thing about it: the soundtrack rocks. Seriously, go listen to it.

Storytelling: 5/10 – Moderately entertaining at best, cheesy, corny, shallow, superficial and just plain stupid at worst.
Characters: 4/10 – The character development that’s there is terrible, most of the characters are just paper bags.
Production-Values: 7/10 – I very rarely deduct points in this category: I only do that when the graphics actually get in the way of the rest of the series. They do here, making characters who try to be really serious look incredibly silly.
Setting: 5/10 – It’s the kind of setting that tries to be epic but fails horribly.

Ultraviolet: Code 044 (This is how superhero anime should be done god dammit!)
Testujin 28-Go (Yes, Tetsujin roughly translates to Iron Man)
Mobile Police Patlabor
I mean, there are so many examples this series could have followed. And yet it went with the most generic one.

7 Responses

  1. Avatar Firechick says:

    I do kind of wonder why Madhouse hasn’t been making anime out of popular manga anymore. They adapted such awesome titles (like CardCaptor Sakura, Gunslinger Girl, Chobits, etc.). I wonder why they’re not doing it anymore?

  2. Avatar Guigas says:

    This show sucked SO HARD.
    Please, don’t waste your time with this anime.
    Go watch the movies, they are infinitely better than this piece of junk.

  3. Avatar Bill says:

    Nowadays, the adaptation business is focused on popular moe/bishoujo manga. This ranges from fan service shows to titles like Aria. GSG and Chobits would probably qualify too.

    According to Madhouse, they’d like to work on more of these if given the chance. However, the studio has been effectively blacklisted by production companies/publishers due to a history of low quality efforts (Madhouse shows range from astounding to abysmal, depending on their focus).

    The delays on projects like Hellsing don’t help matters either. Presumably, that one got yanked away by Geneon, which would be another black mark on their record.

    So yeah, while Madhouse is highly regarded, the trust isn’t there. If producers feel that the odds of a strong effort aren’t high, they’ll go with a more consistent animation studio (and I mean consistent in terms of production quality, not story. Madhouse has farmed entire series out to Korea with almost no quality control, which pisses the financiers off).

  4. Avatar Kalandra says:

    IMO, Madhouse didn’t get to adapt Gunslinger Girl anymore because the author want it to be more Moe, while Madhouse made it more artistic. By no means bad, (in fact season 1 is very good) but I guess they just aren’t trusted anymore for moe/bishoujo title. Which also explain why KyoAni being so famous lately.

  5. Avatar Pax says:

    I am not a fan of iron man or comics altogether, I have however seen many super-hero movies and I was kinda curious to see how an anime version of Iron Man will turn out, my expectations were very low btw, yeah the 2 Iron Man movies were awesome but those had RDJ. Now this anime version definitely sucks, and honestly I don’t think the rest of the marvel adaptations will be any better. I can only hope that Supernatural, another japanese-american collaboration, will be better, there we have an example of an actual tv series that works and it will be an even bigger pressure on the team working on the ova’s.

    I really want Madhouse to adapt another one of Urasawa’s manga, they have 3 more great ones available (20th century boys, Pluto and Billy Bat).

  6. Avatar Bill says:

    BTW, word has it that several key directors have recently left Madhouse, including Ryosuke Nakamura (Aoi Bungaku) and Tetsuro Araki (Death Note, High School of the Dead).

    Dunno what’s going on, but it looks to be a turning point for the company.

  7. Avatar Taara535 says:

    Yeah, I couldn’t stomach past episode 1 of this anime. I’m shocked psgels actually lasted it out, because it really was atrocious.

    One word of warning about the movies (especially the 2nd one) – they are generic action movies and (for me I find this incredibly annoying) there actors who speak “Russian” really suck at it, they can’t even properly translate a news headline into Russian.

    That said, the movies are still significantly better than this.

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