Posted by psgels 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 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
    (Saturday, Sep 5. 2015 01:23 AM)
    “Rin Tohsaka owes her existence to Asuka Langley”
    Just no
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Sep 5. 2015 01:23 AM)
    “That’s generally the criticism I hear of Nasu fans, great to see they cope by passing it on to other works.”
    Aiming right for the gut shot aren’t we. But to no avail. The difference is that I am well aware of Fate’s faults. But you blind yourself from Eva’s but covering it in symbolic justification.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Sep 5. 2015 01:21 AM)
    Rin Tohsaka owes her existence to Asuka Langley.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Sep 5. 2015 01:16 AM)
    And read the TV Tokyo story outline that was presented by the Eva Committee and see how much of the story was perfectly planned from the beginning and that aside from some religious imagery cake-dressings the core themes were already preset from the initial phase and not straw-grasping by observant fans.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Sep 5. 2015 01:11 AM)
    @Aidan: That’s generally the criticism I hear of Nasu fans, great to see they cope by passing it on to other works. It’s exactly what Evangelion ‘did’ that makes it one of the best, and what it did was to deconstruct the whole medium and introduce themes and styles of story presentation that were new to the genre. Its legacy is the effect of its greatness, not the cause.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Sep 5. 2015 01:06 AM)
    *always
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Sep 5. 2015 01:05 AM)
    @jerkocaust: you award has the choice to stop watching a any point, that’s on you.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Sep 5. 2015 01:01 AM)
    I despise the act of covering for a shows flaws by saying of symbolic and psychological crap that could just be pure coincidence and not even creator intent.
    We aren’t denying Evangelion influenced the industry but Bam if it’s going to be hailed as one of the best anime of all time then it’s what it did that matters. Not what it inspired.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Sep 5. 2015 12:58 AM)
    “Now the characters are emotionally a bit blank because that’s what Anno wanted. To show the mental isolation of the protagonist they needed to keep him separated and tormented.”
    Or…it’s poor characterization. Seriously you are giving Anno way too much credit.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Sep 5. 2015 12:40 AM)
    Okay, random boring fact (and showing of my nerdiness) apparently Robin William’s was an Eva fan, there is also an Eva refererence in the film one hour photo.
    And while on the subject of anime/manga references in films Buronsons sanctuary is referenced in The fifth element.

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