Brain Powerd is a Sunrise anime from ’98. It was directed and written by by Tomino Yoshiyuki, the creator of Gundam and the person responsible for the Garzey no Tsubasa OVA. I was asked to review this on the grounds that I hated Evangelion and this is, as impossible as it sounds, supposedly worse. I find that hard to believe, but let’s take a look and decide for ourselves.
During an excursion, Utsumiya Hime discovers a giant plate. From the plate emerges a giant mecha, one of the titular Brain Powerd. She becomes its pilot and escapes from a pair of giant robots that are chasing her. One year later, Isami Yuu, one of the pilots, is leaving Orphan, the one-dimensionally evil organisation dedicated to helping their ship, called Orphan, reach the stars even if it destroys all of humanity besides them. Yuu has somehow figured out that this obviously bad idea is, in fact, a bad idea. So, he escapes aboard his own Brain Powerd and meets up with Utsumiya. He greets her like an old and dear friend, in spite of them having only met for all of thirty seconds a year ago. Turns out that she’s part of the Novis Noah, a ship dedicated to stopping Orphan. Will Novis Noah succeed or will Orphan manage to blast off? And if it does, will that devastate humanity?
Let’s start right away with the fundamental flaw with the writing in this series. It’s very disjointed. Plot points come out of nowhere, the dialogue jumps around and there’s a lot of plot progression that involves the situation just being different for no adequately explained reason. The narrative flows very much like it was just made up on a time crunch with no plan behind it. It’s almost like a group of people who don’t really understand writing got together and played the party game where you take turns making up parts of a story.
There are smaller issues as well. The romance in this is total tripe. It basically involves two characters barely exchanging dialogue, having no chemistry but getting together because…. Undyne can suplex a boulder. This series also doesn’t understand how things like energy work and the Novis Noah’s “doctor” must have gotten her degree from a diploma mill because her areas of expertise are acupuncture and moxibustion. In other words, Pseudo-scientific nonsense that operates on the placebo effect. Let’s just hope no one who pilots these living mecha into battle gets seriously injured and needs real medicine. There are other elements that just don’t make sense. The Novis Noah decides to take on a bunch of orphaned children, in spite of being in constant danger and then they act surprised when that decision doesn’t go well for them.
On the positive side this series, like Garzey no Tsubasa, can be pretty funny in its incompetence. So, that’s something.
The trouble with disjointed writing isn’t relegated to the narrative itself. Character motivations suffer the same fate. They’ll shift without any real reason. Yuu can also be annoying at times. Particularly when he’s giving sanctimonious speeches. Aside from that, the characters are just dull. They’re archetypes who occasionally shift to different archetypes because the plot says they need to.
The artwork and animation in this are hilariously bad, mostly. The action sequences can be hilarious as can the facial expressions that aren’t dull surprise. The future technology is pretty stupid looking and can be funny. The character designs are terrible with one dude looking like he’s rubbing his nipples when he puts his fingers in his jacket pocket. The opening sequence gives us inexplicable nudity of a bunch of the young female characters. Because that’s super relevant to the mecha battles between Orphan and the Novis Noah. Totally not a cheap ploy to get people to watch the series.
there are some actors in this cast who are good at their jobs but this is also one of those series where you’d never know it to hear them in it. To name a few, Watanabe Kumiko and Paku Romi are both good actresses. The trouble is that the series doesn’t need them to showcase their skills. It needs them to have one or two emotions. Which results in performances where none of the actors seem to care. The music is pretty good. It’s not Kanno Yoko’s best soundtrack by any means, but it is a Kanno Yoko soundtrack and she’s damn good at her job.
There isn’t any. Which is just as well given how this series handles romantic elements.
So, that’s Brain Powerd. It’s a really poorly written series with dull characters, hilariously bad art and actors who read the script and knew they didn’t need to put in an effort. That being said, let’s move on to the big question. Is it worse than Evangelion? Well… no. For one thing, the protagonists are smart enough to not be part of the cartoonishly evil organisation in this series. For another, the antagonists do have motivations. The main goal is even one that’s reminiscent of Ra’s Al Ghul’s or that organisation from the Invasion of the Dinosaurs Doctor Who serial. So, it’s even something that can be done well, when it’s in the hands of competent writers but even in this series it’s, at least, something. Most importantly, it’s nowhere near as pretentious and the characters in this are almost as one-note, but nowhere near as painfully obnoxious. And, while Evangelion was a painful slog, this one can be bad in an amusing way. That brings me to the final rating. Brain Powerd gets a 2/10. Honestly, I don’t recommend watching it, even for those unintentionally hilarious moments, just because of the length. Next week I’ll look at Mouryou no Hako.