Heat Guy J: One machine’s struggle with insecurity in its own masculinity.

Heat Guy J is an anime created by director Akane Kazuki. It was one of Satelight Studio’s early productions. This will be their second anime I look at. The first being Sousei no Aquarion, an entirely bland offering. Will this one be any better? Let’s take a look and find out.

Story:

In the future, mankind is living largely confined to large cities not because of man eating giants but because their electric and water purification grids only function in certain areas and there’s only a small group that still understands how the technology works. In the city of Judoh, Daisuke Aurora works for the city’s special services division to prevent crimes along with his android partner, J. Most episodes deal with Daisuke and J solving cases. There is an underlying story arc about Daisuke looking for his father’s murderer, but I can’t go into too much detail about that without spoiling part of the series. Especially since most of the stuff that actually comes from that happens near the end.

Let’s start by looking at what the story does badly. The first thing is the pacing. They keep going back to the underlying plot but they don’t really go anywhere with it besides reminding you it exists until the last three episodes. At which point everything just gets thrown at you and there’s a rushed, hastily resolved climax. The episodes and cases also vary in quality quite a bit, some are pretty good but on the opposite end you have the stuff with the Siberbians, a group of people who are painfully stupid to watch. They don’t believe in technology, except for the stuff they actually use because going without entirely would just be so darn inconvenient. They also believe strongly in the ideal that every adult should be fully independent, except that they have a society with laws, enforcement of said laws by members of the village who work together and a leader. They also subscribe to other ill-conceived, irrational and inane religious/philosophical ideas. There are only two episodes with these clods and they are terrible. You also get some clunky exposition dialogue and forced events that happen solely because the plot needed them to.

So, what does the series do well? Quit a bit, actually. A lot of the concepts at play are kind of interesting and fairly unique. Most of the cases are decent enough with some good moments and tension. There’s a lot of potential in the world itself and it is somewhat well taken advantage of. The series also does a good job of introducing most of the important plot elements that are going to eventually come into play for the climax well in advance and in a subtle way. You never know what previous events that seemed like just parts of a single case are going to come back as an important point until right near the end and when they do get brought up it makes sense given the context.

Characters:

The best way to describe the characters in this series is that they’re close to kind of standard archetypes with maybe one or two things to differentiate them from the usual character types they’re playing off of. There are exceptions, a lot of the one shot and side characters just are their tropes, and there are a few characters like Boma or Daisuke himself who are more interesting, but in general that’s what you can expect. A certain character type with a few additions. They aren’t badly done, mostly, just don’t expect anything too good from them. This isn’t at Stand Alone Complex’s level.

Art:

The art style is pretty unique but it doesn’t look bad by any means. The characters look pretty good and the action sequences are nicely done, mostly and the futuristic tech you see is visually interesting. If there’s any problem with the art it’s that the backgrounds tend to be pretty basic. They don’t look bad, but they do look like not a lot of effort went into them.

Sound:

The performances are decent enough, although most of them aren’t anything great. The actors do their jobs competently although you do get some exaggerated lines and some that are a little wooden. However, those lines that are a bit wooden come from Sugou Takayuki who’s voicing J and they give the character an inhuman quality that works given that he is an android. There is one really strong performance and it comes from Sakurai Takahiro, the same actor who voiced Cloud Strife and Megaman X. The music is pretty standard. It’s simple and functional.

Ho-yay:

This series has a little bit. The dynamic between Vampire and Daisuke comes across as fueled by sexual tension at a few points. Kyoko also takes another girl home with her at one point although that one is less homo-erotic and more that the plot needed it to happen. So, the ho-yay factor is a 2.5/10. There’s a little, but it goes nowhere.

Final Thoughts:

Heat Guy J is a sci-fi series with some interesting elements, nicely done action and good episodes. It also has some really bad episodes and a lot of general story issues. If you’re a fan of sci-fi police stories you’ll probably enjoy it. For myself, it’s a 6/10. It’s decent enough for what it is, but there are a lot of better works out there and it’s merely okay in most respects. Check it out if you’re a fan of the genre. That’s the end of 2014. Next week we’ll be entering January and that means Studio Ghibli Yuri anime starring Hayashibara Megumi. Well, not really. As awesome as it would be to be able to combine all the various themes I’ve had in January, and as amazing as that anime would almost certainly be, I don’t think it actually exists. So, it’s going to be magical girl month. It was NanoFated to happen eventually. Until then, have a happy new year everybody.

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One thought on “Heat Guy J: One machine’s struggle with insecurity in its own masculinity.

  1. Pingback: Nanbaka: Because Comedies Need Tragic Back Stories, Apparently | Anime Reviews

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