Sunday, August 3, 2014

Anime Review No. 83 (KO Beast)

KO Beast (OVA) aka KO Century Beast Warriors
Initial Home Video Release: 1992-93
Director: Hiroshi Negishi
Script: Satoru Akahori
Studio: Animate-Film/Project B4

Well, well, it’s been a while, folks. But I am now getting back into the groove of doing reviews on a regular basis. Also, its my 3rd year anniversary for the blog so this month will be full of special reviews. Now, as I posted before, first off the bat: KO Beast!
Our gang of heroes, everyone ^_^
In the far future or something, the earth has been split in half. By what force that is explained but it makes very little sense. Beastmen roam and have taken over and are in a war against Human technomages as the two vie for control of the planet. KO Beast follows the adventures of Wan, Bud Mint, Mei-Mar and Tuttle as they contend against the villainous V-Darn and V-Sion and their sadistic fairy Akumako, whose boss is Czar Master a mysterious but evil being who wants to, of course, take over the world. Luckily, Wan (a prototype of every shonen protagonist for the next 20+ years) and his band of warriors have some tricks beneath their sleeves. For one thing, they can transform into anthromorphic versions of themselves, being human-animal hybrids. Wan turns into a tiger upon sneezing, Bud turns into a chicken when he gets goosebumps, Mei-Mar and Tuttle turn into a mermaid and turtle respectively. They have Yuni, daughter of Dr. Password who holds a secret power that might be the key to an united future. Lastly, they got these I-Jinn statues which can turn into giant mecha that can combine… like nearly every Sentai in that respect. I am going this far because I feel that this is a show meant to see to be believed.

I like the mecha designs (done by Rei Nakahara who would go on to work for  Blue Seed and Angel Links ), very old school

Now, this is a very silly and ridiculous show, to be frank.I mean, the OP pretty much tells you that right off the bat. Especially when I first saw this, I was like ‘what the fudge is this?’ but then as I continued I warmed up to its insanity. That is probably because KO Beast is just so optimistic and full of fun and very earnest. It is a lovely combination of adventure, shonen action, fantasy/sci-fi ever encapsulated in 7 episodes. The 7 episode OVA is split into two different stories: Episodes 1-3 being a shonen style quest adventure while Episodes 4-7 transitioning from that to being a rescue mission story. There is promise of further adventures but thankfully this OVA is relatively self-contained, something not many of KO Beasts’ contemporaries did.

Our heroes have the right things in mind lolz
There is not a serious bone in this show’s body and it is certainly proud of and/or well aware of this fact. Even when it does get serious, it manages to do that and crack a grin in the midst. It had me laughing all the way through, which is most likely the result of the writer and director for this OVA. Hiroshi Negishi and Satoru Akahori, two guys big in the anime scene of the ‘90s, make their debut more or less here. The CV for these two (Negishi would go onto do Burn Up W, much of 90s Tenchi Muyo and Saber Marionette J while Akahori would write for such shows as Nadesico, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, Maze the Megaburst Space, Sakura Wars, etc) is quite a sight to behold, even Negishi was responsible for that trainwreck known as Amazing Nurse Nanako, but yeah we all can’t be perfect.
The OVA has some nice backdrops
Hmmm.,.....nah that couldn't be!
Of course, the writing and direction are complemented by an impressive art style and animation, even for the time. Sometimes it does get a bit cartoony and rubbery but hey it fits the tone and attitude of the show. Of course, consider when this first came out, its the early 1990s, as anime was coming out of the gritty, ultra-violent/sexed up OVAs of the 80s/early 90s. Sailor Moon was just out in 1992 on TV for instance and anime that came out in 1992 read like efforts to distance themselves from those kind of material. Anime studios began moving towards a broader eclecticism (at least in terms of the kind of shows/genres/stories they produced adaptations ). Essentially KO Beast came out at a time when more shows geared to genres like fantasy, sci-fi, slice of life, drama, etc which continues to this day. Not to say shows of those genres existed prior, but they were at the fringes of the anime fandom at the time when the only known shows from that era were space operas like Macross and Gundam or ultra-violent schlock like well, anything infamous from that era take your pick. Not to say that KO Beast was a pioneering series for the japanese animation field, but it stands as part of a vanguard of early to mid 90s anime.

Only in this anime does Lisa Ortiz voice a sadistic devil-Navi for the dub lolz 
The English dub, produced back in 2003, is a steady effort from NY Headline Studios, one of the better studio groups from that area. While certainly not their best effort (Kare Kano) but it is not that far off from that in terms of quality. It is somewhat notable for starring early career Liam O’Brien and Sam Riegel as well as NY dub mainstays like Angora Deb, Rachael Lillis, Lisa Ortiz, Jessica Calvello and J David Brimmer. Granted it gets a bit repetitive in terms of the additional/bit parts but otherwise a fine dub overall. Note this is one of a few shows that has both an American and British dubs. But, The British dub was only for the first 3 episodes and seems lost to history though a friend of mine has seen some of it and called it ‘legendary’. The best bonus for the US release is the english dub outtakes which are hands down the funniest I’ve heard. Granted, its mostly the actors flubbing their lines or inserting unneeded references into the scenes as one would expect from bloopers, but one can definitely tell that this was a riot to record, for sure.

So yeah I like this show, its got a special place in my heart when it comes to 90s OVAs, right along with Magic Users Club and El Hazard. It got some good stuff going for it and any sort of shortcoming are forgiven because it is just so darn funny and entertaining.

KO Beast is available by Right Stuf, though only as 3 DVD singles that are out of print but can be found easily on Amazon or eBay.

But you know, things can't all be fun and games all the time.....

Til next time, dear readers.....

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