Big O, Vol. 6 ★★☆☆☆

bigo6 (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Big O, Vol. 6
Series: Big O #6
Author: Hitoshi Ariga
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 208
Words: 7K

Synopsis:

These 4 chapters deal with Dorothy’s memory disk being stolen by Angel. It is revealed that Angel is part of a group that lives outside of Paradigm City. Roger attempts to get back Dorothy’s memories and fails.

The book ends with Roger and Dorothy both accepting that lost memories aren’t as important as the possible future.

My Thoughts:

This was a really sad letdown to the end of this manga. By sad, I do not mean emotionally sad, as in “My grandmother died, I’m sad”, but as in “Dude, your pink, heartshaped skateboard is just sad”.

I have to admit I raced through this as fast as possible just to get to the end. Overall, I found this manga to be poorly done. There were little to no actual story arcs, but proto-stories without any kind of resolution.

As much as I enjoyed the anime, the manga version of Big O has been nothing but a big disappointment from start to finish for a variety of reasons. I won’t be sad to get rid of these. Just not sure if I should simply trash these or not. After the Book (un)Haul post next month I’ll make a decision about whether to throw these away or if there are any other options.

Don’t read this manga. That is my Official Verdict and Judgement.

★★☆☆☆

[Manga Monday] Big O, Vol. 5 ★★☆☆½

bigo5 (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Big O, Vol. 5
Series: Big O #5
Author: Hitoshi Ariga
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 216
Words: 7K

Synopsis:

We get a chapter about Norman where he shows he’s so familiar with firearms that he can fire a machine gun around a whole group of punks and not hit them once. They were in the act of trying to pull a coup but with Norman’s “demonstration” on how to use a machine gun, they’re to afraid to try. Dorothy also helps out by doing cleaning chores around the house while Norman fixes Big O.

Beck ends up making a HUGE score and becomes so rich that he buys an entire Dome. Of course, he does it through proxies so the Military Police can’t touch him. He finds a gigadeus (the equivalent of what a megadeus is to humans) that somehow gives him a LOT of memories. Big O destroys the gigadeus but it is unclear whether Beck is caught or not.

The final chapter of this volume deals with a little girl who apparently can tell people their true pasts. Crowds of people end up driving her into an icy river, where Major Dastun attempts to rescue her. He tells the crowd they killed her and then Big O shows up and takes the girl and Dastun away. The girl is alive and Dastun moralizes on looking to the future and not the past.

My Thoughts:

My goodness, someone put this manga out of its misery, please! I feel like I’m reading this out of duty more than anything. And it is true. If I had just picked up this series without knowing about the anime, I’d have abandoned it after the 2nd volume for sure!

There is nothing of coherence here. Even the art and the battles leave me feeling baffled about what I’m supposed to be seeing or trying to get. The stories are just as bad.

One more volume and then I can ditch this. I might do a Book (un)Haul post on these, as the covers are really good looking.

★★☆☆½

[Manga Monday] Big O, Vol. 4 ★★★☆☆

bigo4 (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Big O, Vol. 4
Series: Big O #4 
Author: Hitoshi Ariga
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 176
Words: 7K

Synopsis:

Roger Smith is hired to find an old bar. What he doesn’t know is that the old bar has an enormous safe with a vast amount of memories in it. What the client doesn’t know is that those memories are all old letters between his father and and old lover. Roger keeps having flashbacks to a woman who he claims he’ll never forget, but he’s never seen her before. The chapter ends with Dorothy telling Roger that since she’s an android, she’ll never forget him.

2 mad scientists find a machine for extracting forgotten memories and end up kidnapping Roger. His memories overwhelm the machine and then he and Big O destroy the machine.

The final chapter deals with the return of Schwarzvald and his megadeus, Big Duo. Looking like Big O, but red and with the ability to fly, Schwarzvald claims that the power of the Bigs is for destruction only and sets out to destroy Paradigm City. Roger and Big O stop him but their battle has brought them to the attention of Alex Rosewater, the CEO of Paradigm Co and the de facto ruler of Paradigm City.

My Thoughts:

No scantily clad or uncovered women this time. Hence the high water mark of 3 stars.

Other than that, mediocre. Nothing is revealed, nothing interesting happens, the characters barely appear. Flat and lifeless is what this seems to be going for. Almost like it was a project that the manga-ka didn’t care about but had to do anyway.

Whatever. It doesn’t matter. I am going to finish this series since I own it, but my goodness, it is like eating stale crackers while sipping on tepid tap water.

★★★☆☆

Big O, Vol. 3 ★★☆☆½

bigo3 (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Big O, Vol. 3
Series: Big O #3
Author: Hitoshi Ariga
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Words: 7K

Synopsis:

Beck is broken out of prison by Angel and given his own megadeus, the Super Beck. He disguises it as another Big O and goes on a rampage. He’s determined to reveal that Roger Smith is the operator of Big O. Roger, with help from his butler Norman and Dorothy, take down the Super Beck without revealing Roger’s secret.

Dorothy has an encounter with an artist, who falls in love with her. He is leaving in a condemned building however and almost dies when it is destroyed. Dorothy saves him and the artist ends up in a hospital, where he becomes infatuated with a nurse. Dorothy learns a valuable lesson about male artists.

Some bio-weapon beast that eats metal is released in the city and only the Big O can stop it. It does.

Roger, Beck and Angel all separately come upon an older geezer living outside the dome who has access to genuine alcohal and tobacco and a huge stash of memories. Angel brings in troops from the Paradigm Company, Beck shoots his way out and Roger drunk drives the Big O and ends up burning the whole place down.

My Thoughts:

Once again there was ONE scene where Beck is bathing and it shows a woman with him and it is an R rated picture, so I dinged a half star. It made me mad, because now I know I can’t give this manga to any young person. What a way to waste an entire volume. Way to go, manga-ka.

The stories are pretty boring, Beck is still a 2bit loser villain and yet he still is the main badguy. Roger pretty much just punches him in the face with Big O every encounter and wins. That really isn’t good story telling. My memories of this being mediocre at best are definitely being justified.

Which has led me to adding the “Mediocre” tag to this review and the rest of the series most likely.

★★☆☆½

[Manga Monday] Big O, Vol. 2 ★★☆☆½

bigo2 (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Big O, Vol. 2
Series: Big O #2
Author: Hitoshi Ariga
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 216
Words: 7K

Synopsis:

We get the wrapup of the Dorothy storyline and how Dorothy comes to be part of the Smith household.

The next chapter introduces us to Angel and has Big O and Roger fighting a fleet of ghost ships, which turn out to be mostly fakes. One is a real ship and that is the one Angel has targeted so she can recover memories from it.

The 3rd chapter deals with a cyborg killer who has just regained his memories and begins to kill again on 40 year old instructions. This introduces us to Instro, a robot pianist. He is the prime suspect and when Roger clears him, promises to teach Dorothy to play the piano.

The final chapter deals with the origins of Schwarzwald, the crazy reporter who burns up in a fire and everyone thinks is dead.

My Thoughts:

Except for the Ghost ship story, the stories follow the same path as the anime. But rather lifelessly in my opinion. Without the BAS style artwork, this mecha just doesn’t have much oomph behind it.

It also appears that people can randomly/recently lose their memories or regain them. And yet memories are also stored somehow, somewhere. It is something that you can’t think too hard about before it becomes obvious that the creators didn’t give it much thought either.

Between chapters there are various character sketches or a full page of a character looking all action’y, etc. One of those was of Angel with her diving suit unzipped. While it didn’t go beyond cheesecake territory, it just wasn’t appropriate with the rest of the volume. It was grossly obvious fan service. I’m not a fan of that, so I dinged half a star.

Overall, while this isn’t necessarily a bad manga, like I stated in the beginning, the life just isn’t there. This is making even Season 2 of the anime seem pretty good, so once I’m done with these 6 volumes, I’ll be getting rid of them in one way or another.

★★☆☆½

[Manga Monday] Big O, Vol. 1 ★★★☆☆

bigo1 (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Big O, Vol. 1
Series: Big O #1
Author: Hitoshi Ariga
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 216
Words: 7K

Synopsis:

We are introduced to Roger Smith, Big O, Beck and Paradigm City.

Roger has several encounters with Beck, where Beck tries to blackmail the city for 5 billion dollars so he won’t destroy some memories, another where he uses an electricity eating bug to try to destroy Big O in revenge for the previous escapade and finally where he kidnaps R Dorothy and uses the Dorothy I megadeus to try to rob a bank. Every single one is foiled by Big O and Roger Smith and Beck seems to have it in for Big O.

My Thoughts:

I took a quick look at wikipedia and the Big O manga was started several months before the anime, probably to try to drum up excitement for the anime. With that in mind, I wasn’t surprised when this was a real hash of old and new material. The first story about holding memories hostage was all new, the electricity bug story had overtones of the electric eel monster and the R Dorothy story was pure re-tread.

The art was different. Very similar, but not the iconic Batman: The Animated Series like the anime. It was too bad, because that art worked so well. The Big O too was not shown to the best and besides being big and having some big fisty arms, didn’t have much presence. The biggest difference was Beck playing such a major villain. In the anime he’s a 2bit loser who occasionally annoys Roger. Here, he’s still an annoying 2bit villain, but he’s the main villain and he doesn’t even try to be corny/funny like in the anime. The perennial loser villain.

The biggest issue is the 40 year memory loss. In one page, Roger relates how people still show up without their memories, and the main event happened 40 years ago. But, most of the people trying to get their memories back aren’t even close to 40, so they shouldn’t have had any to lose. Or regain. If the time frame had been changed to 5, maybe even 10 years, then I could accept things better. It really feels like the 40 should have been 4 and something was seriously lost in translation.

Not an auspicious start for this manga series I’m afraid.

★★★☆☆

Big O, Season 2 (2003 Anime)

51x0ze2cd6l Big O, season 2, is where things get REALLY weird. Season 1 was all about meeting the characters and finding out the mystery of Paradigm City. Season 2 is trying to make sense of the amnesiac state of everyone and what the future holds.

While power plays are exposed left and right by various high officials and new megadeus are revealed like candy in a five and dime store, it all comes down to the fact that Paradigm City is a virtual reality and in the end is reset. But we never find out why it was created, or who actually created it  or what its purpose might have been.

 

mystery-clipart-question-mark-17-transparent (Medium)

Back when I first started watching anime, I enjoyed mystery, unanswered questions,  unresolved situations. It provided for an incalculable amount of speculation fodder. I’m no longer in that place and questions put forth simply to confusticate no longer amuse me, but annoy me instead.  And this whole season was trying to be one mind bender after another. It would have been simpler to just use the followering on yourself. With about the same results is my guess.

mindbenders_ambition

The “Mind Bender!”

The other change, in myself that translated to not enjoying this as much, was the almost unstated romantic angle between Roger Smith and R. Dorothy Wainwright.  As a single guy in his 20’s, this “destiny” between 2 disparate entities was something that spoke to my very essence. Yeah, I was one of those “romantics” as a young man. I never descended to writing bad poetry, but it was a close thing at times, hahahahaa. Now, viewing things from the other end of the telescope, it came across as heavy handed and about as subtle as a baseball bat to the kneecaps.

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Other than those 2 issues, this was still a fantastic watch.  The various battles between the megadeus was everything you could ask for in a mech battle.  The animation is as slick as the first season and from my casual watch, I couldn’t tell that 4 years had passed between seasons.

While I didn’t feel awash in confusion, or that I had wasted my time, I have to admit that I’m not sure I’ll ever watch it again. A very different reaction from my watch of Season 1, that is for sure. Upon this re-watch, I have to say that I think if season 1 had ended things, we’d all be better off.

Crap man, I’m watching my 20’s really slipping away. This gets a solid thumbs sideways 😉

 

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Big O, Season 1 (1999 Anime)

51xr9nnjx5l

The Big O started life, at least here in the United States, as one 13 episode series that ended on a cliffhanger so big that everyone who watched it screamed and hollered until the sequel was produced.

The setting is Paradigm City and a world devastated by an unknown Event forty years ago. Said event apparently destroyed the rest of the world and wiped the memory of every living person. We follow Roger Smith, a Negotiator, who makes deals between parties wishing to exchange “memories” (bits of data from the old world). He is the operator of a megadeus known as Big O. While rare, other megadeus do exist or can be built and these are usually run by various criminals, etc, giving Roger the chance to flex Big O and beat the living daylights out of them. In the first episode a hostage negotiation goes wrong and Roger ends up with R. Dorothy Wayneright, a robot that was built in the image of the original Dorothy Wayneright. Various adventures happen while it is hinted at that the world might not be as empty as supposed and that the power movers of the city know a lot more than they are letting on. Roger fights to preserve Paradigm City with the help of Dorothy,  his butler Norman and of course the megadeus Big O.  Series One ends with a huge fight between Big O and Big Duo and while Big O ends up victorious, in the distance we see 3 megadeus stalking out of the ocean towards the city.

I really enjoyed this anime. The art style is almost copied straight from Batman: The Animated Series. If you like that kind of art, this is going to really float your boat. The lines, the curves, the angles, it just works so well.

rogerdorothy

 

Second is the music. The opening theme song is pretty much the singer just saying “Big O, Cast in the Name of God, Ye Not Guilty” 2 or 3 times while some seriously Queen sounding music plays. It seems to be almost intentionally modeled on the music in the Highlander. While I wouldn’t listen to straight up Queen music, it has it’s place. The episodes are filled with a mix of saxophone jazz and some really intense and serious fight music. As odd as that combination seems, they stay separate and work perfectly.  The music man in this series had a great sense of what music fit where and how to blend disparate types seamlessly together.

The characters are pretty 2 dimensional. Roger is simply the cool private eye and while a romance is hinted at between him and R. Dorothy, that has more to do with her journey about learning to be her own person and not just a set of programs.  Norman is Alfred the Batman Butler and there are a whole host of side characters ranging from erstwhile allies to pure villains. While each character has a pretty specific role to play and a bit to fill, they never exceed that or become something more. It didn’t bother me but it is something to to be aware of.

bigocharacters1

 

Finally, we have the “mystery”.  It is the strongest part of the anime and yet the weakest at the same time.  Tons of hints and vague memory flashes show the sky being filled with megadeus and a world so advanced as to be a paradise. And yet we get hints of nothing being as it seems.  There are so many things that don’t make sense, whether deliberately or because of lazy story telling. If the memory loss happened 40 years ago, where did Roger learn to pilot the Big O. Why are so many young people (and I use the word “young” to mean anyone under 50) so obsessed with memories? They didn’t lose anything. something just doesn’t add up. Why can the megadeus sometimes act on their own?

I call this the strongest part of the anime because it allows the viewer to speculate endlessly with others who are watching. It is the glue that binds all the previous parts together. It is also the weakest because things simply don’t make sense. A story must be internally consistent for it to be a strong story.

Overall, I still enjoyed the heck out of this. Not as “cool” as my 25 year old self thought it was, but I think this is worth hanging on to for another view in several years.

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I did not expect to write this much. We’ll see if I’m so wordy about Season 2 next Sunday.

 

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