I think it’s no surprise that my favourite director of all time is Kazuki Akane. If you look at my Top 10 favourite anime, this guy directed three of those spots, and even his flawed series of Geneshaft was fascinating science fiction. Now, I’m not going to compare Heat Guy J to his other series, though. The entire review would then pretty much look like “Yeah, the [insert element here] is very good, but not as good as Escaflowne, Noein and Birdy” over and over again, because as a standalone series, Heat Guy J has a lot to like.
Starting off, the action in this series is really good and also surprisingly varied. The animators here ended up experimenting with a ton of different styles for animating their action scenes, you have clean brawl-fests, there are fights with messy yet very expressive animation, there are gunfights, car chases, sword battles. This wide array of different styles makes every action scene here worth watching. If anything, just watch the first episode for some superbly directed and animated action. The soundtrack too is very excellent and varied as well. The character designs will probably take a while to (this and Escaflowne have the same character designs ;)), but once you do they too look great, diverse and imaginative.
The show is pretty episodic, and the ratio of random to plot related episodes is about 30 to 70, and even episodes that might seem random at first turn out to have some significance as the story goes on. Heat Guy J’s story is very much dependant on its cast of characters, which really is excellent. The acting is perhaps a bit stiff at times, but the entire cast grows into something lovable by the end of the series. All of the major side characters either get some significant development or an interesting back-story, and I especially loved how the final fight with the major villain at the end ties everything together, wrapping this series up very nicely without leaving any bad aftertaste whatsoever.
The series takes place in another one of those post-apocalyptic futures, but what’s interesting is that while most shows of this kind tend to have a very bleak and depressing outlook, Heat Guy J balances this out with also a lot of positive energy. On one hand, it delves into corruption and crime, but on the other it’s having fun and celebrating humanity’s collective ability to survive a harsh environment and making the best of what they have. This balance they create is great and definitely gives this show an interesting setting to work with.
So yeah, to get back to the first paragraph: this show has a lot of good stuff in it, though I also admit that it did not reach the heights of Birdy, Noein and Escaflowne. Most of the difference lies in the details, though: the latter ones were much better fleshed out and the only real flaw of Heat Guy J is its stiff acting at times, Still, it’s hard not to love the titular J and his constant one liners about what a real man should be, or any of the other characters for that matter.
|Storytelling:||8/10 – Nice pacing, interesting stories.|
|Characters:||9/10 – Great and lovable characters with diverse backgrounds. Nice depth and development to them as well.|
|Production-Values:||9/10 – Excellent animation, especially during the action scenes. Awesome soundtrack.|
|Setting:||8/10 – Simple but effective. It’s well fleshed out at the end.|