I wuz robbed! Someone call the anime police! What a crock of crap! Please excuse my histrionics, but never have I felt so cheated by a show as I was from “Kishin Houkou Demonbane”. It promised one thing but devolved into…mecha! I can’t stand mecha, but the fact they had to lie and cheat me into it is even worse. So why did I hang around for the full run? I’ll explain that in a bit, but first, the plot. Giant fighting robots! I mean…ahem! That is to say….
We are in Arkham City, which look kind of future retro. We drop in on Private Detective Kuro Daijuuji. He is a financially poor detective, but we cannot determine if he is a generally poor detective. I thought it might be a steampunk approach to things, as his ‘secretary’ is an answering machine hooked up to a reel-to-reel tape, activated by a dial-up phone with a manual typewriter to tap things out. He is screening his calls as he owes a lot of money to a lot of people for a lot of things.
One day, he is asked by Ruri Hado of the Hado Financial Group, to search for a magic grimoire. (Isn’t that redundant? Aren‘t all grimoires by their very nature magic?) As Kuro searches for the book, he unexpectedly runs into Al Azif, a pretty girl who turns out to be the grimoire Kuro is searching for. While being chased by the Black Lodge (a really nasty secret society that controls all in this barfy burg), Al forges a contract with Kuro, bestowing him with powerful magic. Soon afterwards, Al also activates Demonbane, a Deus Machina owned by the Hado Financial Group, (and originally owned by Ruri’s grandfather) to combat the mechanical menace from the Black Lodge. With this, the war between the Hado Financial Group and the Black Lodge begins.
OK, I was expecting not only the steampunk approach, but something more ‘traditional’ in a detective mystery. Instead, Kuro transforms into that hunk up there, while Al becomes the chubby chibi before they pilot their gundam…..I mean, Demonbane, and they are the only ones who can do this. Otherwise, the robot is the world’s biggest paperweight.
It’s just that the foes they encounter leave a lot to be desired and it comes off as bad farce. Doctor West is a character whose personality might be better suited to “One Piece” or even “Pokemon”: a paste-on baddie who has as much strength and purpose as tissue paper. WET tissue paper. And even the Black Lodge doesn’t seem all that horrible or pernicious of a group. Yes, they cause troubles, but it’s one of those high-level societies, taking care of high-level problems that leave us proles out in the street. But I never felt the fear they inspire, or try to inspire. All hat and no steer, right?
Oddly enough, the real strength of this show lies in the end. You see, they pull a ton of references from H. P. Lovecraft for this series and explain those references about him and those other authors that followed after him, in continuing his tales. The show itself is only about 18 to 20 minutes long, as you have these meticulous footnotes at the end, explaining names and locations and references, to help you understand this world better, or who they are and why these names were chosen. I certainly learned a load more about HPL and Cthulhu and those demons. The only drawback with that is you have to pause the show, as they do not give you enough time to read and absorb what is being offered to you.
The show itself is kind of pffft! The fight sequences are a bit too fluffy to be taken seriously and Kuro is not growing as a person. He’s like painting an outhouse heliotrope. Sure, it looks better but it still stinks. And the one area where something could have been established better (as he mooches off the local church, run by a possible cat lady sister) is not done enough. Like I said, I don’t think they really understood what they wanted to do. It did start out as a video game and it betrays those roots with the fight sequences, but when it came to doing something with the plot, they weren’t funny enough to be comedy and not serious enough to be drama, so even those ‘situations of peril’ do not seem all that perilous.
The show is over 10 years old and it looks it, in regards to the anime style. If you told me that some of the animators worked on “Pokemon”, I would believe it, certainly in those exaggerated takes and reactions to events, especially the always-annoying Doctor West. I caught this show as a stopgap between the seasons. If you were to watch it, I would suggest it for the same reason, so you could walk away from it if you had to.
Binging? Don’t do it; it’s a bad idea. It’s just the nature of the show might repel you (it repelled me) and the flaws become heightened. Nothing is honestly gained by watching it all at once, save that it is now OUT OF THE WAY! You might want to stay, just for the Cliff Notes at the end, so you learn a bit more of its history, but that’s on you.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (Works for the comedy, not so for the drama)
Plot 7 (I felt cheated by the ruse)
Pacing 7 (Moves along consistently)
Effectiveness 8 (It gets it point across….)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Bingeability 4 (Diminishing returns)
Overall 5 (Spinning one’s wheels)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Why don’t you get a real job?