Posted on 29 January 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews




I currently have reviewed almost 700 series (this is my 692th review, to be exact), and yet I haven’t quite seen anything like The Big O here. The way in which it somehow manages to combine film noir with giant robots fighting each other is really commendable. On top of that, the soundtrack is completely unique as well, it has a unique main character for an anime, and even the entire premise that this series is based on is just… unlike anything I’ve seen. Sunrise, I applaud you for creating such an interesting series!

First things first, though, because this series does like to toy with your suspense of disbelief a lot. You see, the protagonist, Roger Smith has the profession of “Negotiator”: he mediates between fair deals in order to solve conflicts. And seriously, you’d be surprised at how this show time and time again makes these negotiation jobs boil down to giant robot fights. Some villains have some of the most bizarre reasons to suddenly grab a giant robot in order to attempt to accomplish their goals.

I also hope that you like series that don’t bother to answer all of the questions they ask, because this show loves to pretend that it doesn’t make any sense. Instead, it leaves things up to the viewer to interpret, and fill in the blanks. And that’s the beauty of this series: none of the characters really has any idea what’s going on. What we see here is 26 episodes of characters struggling against the unknown, everyone doing this with a different interpretation. This show doesn’t just have an original setting, it also manages to make it very deep by consistently looking at it through different eyes and trying to analyze it.

It also helps that it’s wonderfully told. The entire series has this great mysterious atmosphere, and the stories it presents work really well with the lead couple, Roger Smith and Dorothy. The two of them also play off each other extremely well and are both very well written. Roger Smith is a great lead character because he constantly thinks and never takes anything for granted, while Dorothy’s deadpan portrayal of an android is consistently haunting. The dialogue is also really well written, and the scriptwriters time and time again manage to accurately portray all of the different characters end up in this series.

The Big O is mostly episodic, but it’s the kind where everything comes together at the end. When I watched some of the episodes, they seemed pretty pointless at first, but now that I just finished the final episodes, I’m surprised at how each of the episodes had its purpose, either by adding to one of the characters, giving the setting more depth, or the storyline itself.

My one complaint is that the action scenes, while wonderfully combined with the dialogue, do feel a bit formulaic after a while. This also has to do with the fact that the battles are often held held for… strange reasons. As the show goes on, the stakes that are put on the battles actually increase, though, which takes the monotony away again.

This show also has its share of mindscrew moments. If you’re looking for a confusing series to watch, then this definitely is a recommendation, because when you look beyond the unanswered questions you can see that this show has a story that the creators put a lot of thought and effort into.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Excellent atmosphere and good build-up. The script is great and everything nicely comes together after a while. Just don’t start nit-picking every tiny detail.
Characters: 9/10 – Diverse, no teenagers, and the characters fit the setting exactly and make excellent use of this.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Unique look, and during the money shots the inbetween animation really is impressive.
Setting: 9/10 – Imaginative, unique and thought-provoking. It doesn’t answer a majority of the questions it asks, but knows it and uses it to its full advantage.

Suggestions:
Argento Soma
Bokura no
Gasaraki

12 Responses

  1. Meep says:

    Yay! I watched this anime years ago, but I still love it a lot. I still listen to the OST too.

  2. Watcherzero says:

    On my to see list since I saw the DVDs, did this anime have an OAV or Film years back? I might have seen that, if not its my mind playing tricks on me.

  3. Loz says:

    Paradigm city… a city that has lost its memories…

    I did enjoy how it executed the film noir angle

  4. Firechick says:

    You’ve been completing a lot of stuff lately, Psgels. Now the only anime you need to finish/review are…

    Blue Gender
    Futatsu no Spica
    Gankutsuou
    Juuni Kokuki
    Musekinin Kanchou Tylor
    To Aru Majutsu no Index (second season)
    Touhai Densetsu Akagi: Yami ni Maiorita Tensai

    Yeah, somehow I managed to keep track. I dunno why. LOL.

  5. Taka says:

    An interesting tidbit about Big O I don’t know if you know or not is that originally sunrise only made one season. It premiered in 1999 with just thirteen episodes despite Konaka wanting 26. I remember when I watched it what a huge blow the 13th episode cliffhanger was. Another Dorothy? One that murders people like crazy?

    The 2nd season was co-produced by Cartoon Network and just 7months after its Japanese debut. In reality it was the international fan response that made the 2nd season possible. Without that response a 2nd season may never have been made and you would be reviewing this show as good, but unfinished.

    That being said the way they finished the show was a confusing mindfuck.

  6. Firechick says:

    Whoops! Agh! Dangit! Stupid me!

  7. iketaurus says:

    psgels i dont comment often but i must say thank you for reminding me on how great big-o was. Did you watch in english or with in jap with eng subs?

    I think I might re-watch it but i’ll wait based upon your response

  8. psgels says:

    Iketaurus: I watched it with a japanese dub and english subs.

  9. DangerMouse says:

    Man did I love pretty much everything about this series, when I watched it on CN before buying the DVDs, from the setting, to the art style to the character and animation, even the concepts were really interesting in how they were looked at as mentioned throughout the review. Still listen to the soundtracks for this regularly!

    Yeah Taka, really glad it did too due to all the extra info we got in s2, only wish we had managed to get an s3 to make further sense of the finale which was good but ended crazy. :)

  10. iketaurus says:

    psgels: thanks for the response

  11. Yarow12 says:

    Do we find out who created the Megadeuces at some point? What the white suited man wants? What the phantom guy (mechanical arm, white face, can’t see his eyes, wears suit with hat) is?

    I just accidentally read the “Ending” part of Big O’s Wikipedia page… biggest mistake of my life.

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  • AidanAK47
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 03:27 PM)
    Ghibi’s up would certainly be a different beast altogether.
  • K-Off
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 03:08 PM)
    @Ken no, the ghibli one.
  • Kenjeran
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 01:55 PM)
    @Juno: Up? That Disney-Pixar one?
  • Noel
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 01:39 PM)
    Hi there. I’m currently interning for a small company in London, and they tasked me with creating a video tribute to Howl’s Moving Castle. I came up with this, and I thought you might like it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tS-zTTQzgjI Noel
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 12:23 PM)
    The only time they ever get along seems to be during non-canon alternate universes made for fanservice, official or not.
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 12:21 PM)
    Erm, no. They didn’t “get along” so much as Sayaka at least sympathized nicely with her. At least, until the end, when she basically swore never to sympathize with her again. XDDD
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 12:20 PM)
    Another interesting point is that the character relations are pretty fluid, too. Characters can act differently toward each other in different timelines/potential futures. Rebellion actually solidifies Homura’s consistent feelings toward Mami and also that Sayaka just cannot seem to be on good terms with Homura… but even then, for a while, they got along pretty well until the end. XD
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 12:17 PM)
    Madoka’s characterization seems pretty non-linear and only show up when necessary, so it’s definitely easy to see that they’re “dependent on the plot,” but there’s a ton of stuff there to piece the characters together into something coherent and solid.
  • AidanAK47
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 11:55 AM)
    Madoka’s characters act pretty confusingly? I never got that. I always felt there actions were pretty logical in the first viewing.
    Though a second viewing of anything can help. Mostly because you know the main story so you can focus on the little details.
  • Juno
    (Thursday, Apr 24. 2014 11:27 AM)
    If anyone wants me to ask any specific questions, let me know. Funny enough, people are saying the same thing I’ve been saying for a long time–that multiple viewings help us understand the characters better. Because a lot of characters DO act pretty confusing at first, but upon a second viewing, after we know more about them, those actions make complete sense. Meaning that Madoka’s characterization is not linear.

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