125. Time Bokan: Royal Revival

During the 1970s super robots had their first big boom. Following the release of Mazinger Z in 1972 a slew of similar robot shows came out until they slowed down in the latter half of the decade. One of the biggest franchises of the time was Time Bokan which ran through to the mid-80s in its various iterations. In the 90s and 2000s there was a slew of remakes and revivals of these 70s shows aimed at those, now grownups, who watched them as kids. Time Bokan: Royal Revival is one such production. To head this project they brought in Akira Shigino as directo; the same man who directed the most beloved entry in the franchise, Yatterman.

814131015846_anime-time-bokan-ova-royal-revival-blu-ray-altbThe OAV has two very separate episodes. The first episode consists of a race between all the villain gangs (Time Bokan established the one women and two henchman villain gang trope, think Team Rocket from Pokemon) in order to see who the villains of the next series will be. So they all have their various weird and wonderful mechs/machines and then proceed to have a very Wacky Races style of race. The main characters of this episode are the Doronbo gang from Yatterman, who are so popular that they were actually ranked forth most popular villains of all time in a 2016 poll.. Aside from the various racing antics there is a fun side plot about how one of the Doronbo gang now works in a ramen shop and doesn’t want to leave his wife to go back to a life of crime. In fact this whole episode is full of those sorts of things, for instance it turns out that Doronjo is actually now a housewife with quite few kids. It is kind of fun seeing how the characters have grown up but also are still totally the same. All in all a fun little episode without a huge amount of substance.

In the second episode the Doronbo gang are tumblr_inline_nuv5tw6U5N1tw1wp2_640back and have been ordered, by their boss, to infiltrate Tatsunoko Land. Here they have to face off against various 70s Tatsunoko heroes such as Gatchaman, Casshern, Hurricane Polymar, and Tekkaman (basically the same lot who team up in 2017’s Infini-T Force. Eventually, they also fight the original heroes of Yatterman. While this seems like it is an excuse to have a big old punch up, showing off the best moves of each hero, it is instead used an excuse to ruthlessly take the piss out of all of them, characters of the 90s, and 90s otaku tropes as well. If you understand what they are talking about it is pretty hilarious, but I can easily see it being utterly baffling it f you don’t. My favourite running gag was how utterly lame the Yatterman heroes are and how everyone thinks they are super lame, they really were really lame in the original! I could have done without all of the characters screaming and shouting all of the time but it kind of goes with the territory when you get into 70s action anime.

Visually it is a bit of an odd beast because they retain the 70s visual design but apply 90s quality to it. It isn’t amazingly animated, but it is decent and there is always lots going on in any scene. I think the best comparison would be the Gekiganger scenes from Nadescio. The music and vocal performances similarly keep to a 70s style, for better and for worse. If you like those styles then it is a great fit with the visuals but if it grates with you then you will not have a fun time.

All in all, I actually quite enjoyed this show. The thing is I knew most of the references and so got most of the jokes, though I’m sure I missed quite a few. The average anime fan isn’t me though and so it is likely they have never even heard of Time Bokan, Gatchaman, etc. To those people this will be utterly impenetrable and likely deeply unfunny. Sadly, this just isn’t for everyone, it isn’t even for about 99.9999% of anime fans. This makes it all the more bizarre that it has a Western release, surely it can’t have been profitable?

Final Score: 6B

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