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Roach Armada

April 4, 2010

To everyone that’s complaining about Heroman taking place in the USA and hating on it for having American stuff in it:

You get an F in US Social Studies. So says Great Teacher Landon.

I say this because said people clearly have no idea that this anime has nothing to do with the USA. Yes, the subtitles at the beginning of the episode claim that this is “Center City, USA,” but this is not the USA. In the USA, jocks don’t hang out with skater geeks and fat kids that act like Cartman from South Park. That little posse that the main jock dude has makes absolutely no sense. There’s no way in hell that a football player would be hanging out with most of those dudes. He might hang out with the black dude, since they’re probably on the same team, but that’s the only believable aspect of said posse. The skinny preppy kid might know the jock and they might not hate each other, but I seriously doubt they’d frequent the same social circles. And the only way said jock would hang out with the geeky asian kid with headphones is if said asian kid was his crystal meth supplier. As for Cartman, the jock’d more likely kick his ass than Joey’s in real life.

This, along with everything else that takes place in this episode, tells me that this isn’t anything coming close to resembling the real USA. This is the USA filtered through 80’s Hollywood movies and again filtered through a Japanese writer who has never set foot outside of his prefecture, much less Japan itself. The professor that Joey goes to see is totally Doc Brown from Back to the Future. The jock’s posse is the sort of thing one would create if one liked John Hughes films. The fashions the kids wear look more like costume designs from Rival Schools United By Fate rather than anything an actual US teenager would wear.

This is basically an anime universe created by and for otaku. The only way in which it resembles reality is the fact that Heroman has stars and stripes on his armor. That’s as close to the USA as this anime gets. And I find all of this pretty damn awesome.

I’m loving the ridiculous setting. It’s so far removed from reality that it becomes its own unique setting. It’s just as fantasy-like as the techno-magic college town of Railgun and Index or the French-inspired surreality of Revolutionary Girl Utena’s school setting. It’s the sort of place that can only exist within anime, and it makes no sense that anyone would bash it for being “too American.” If you feel that way, you need to go back to school and take some social studies classes again. You’re out of touch with reality.

I loved the first episode of Heroman. It played out like a 60’s super hero comic book origin story. Joey Jones’ “origin” is no different from Peter Parker’s or Bruce Banner’s or Tony Stark’s or The Fantastic Four’s. Every single one of them (Yes, Stark included) was a geek before they became a hero. They were all smart people who found themselves in a life-threatening situation. Peter Parker got bitten by a radioactive spider. Bruce Banner was hit by a gamma bomb. Tony Stark had to build power armor to escape from bad guys. The Fantastic Four were bombarded with space radiation. And Joey’s toy robot, which he had an emotional bond with, was struck by lightning in the same manner that Frankenstein’s monster was brought to life. All of these heroes came out of their dramatic ordeal with powers that they choose to use for the “greater good.”

Joey Jones is a super hero. His power is “I have a pet robot.” He’s going to fight space cockroaches and, if the opening credits are correct, get wrapped up in government conspiracies. This is all pure comic book fodder, and it’s awesome to see this sort of story play out in anime form.

Is it original? Nope. Then again, most of the series people harp about every season aren’t very original either. Durarara’s cast may be awesome, but can you seriously claim that any of them are genuinely unique? Celty’s just an old folklore character inserted into a modern story. That’s no different from Joey/Heroman’s US super hero character archetype being inserted into an anime setting. “Take character from A and place it in B.” Same principle, and I like both of them because of this juxtaposition.

We’ll see if Heroman actually turns out any good, but based on this episode I think it will.

Also, I seriously doubt Stan Lee had much involvement in this series beyond saying “Hey, true believers in Japan! I’ll give you a no-prize if you make an anime based on this two sentence description I wrote in between swimming in my mountain of cash I made from the Spiderman movie series and swimming in this other mountain of cash I made from the new Iron Man sequel!” It’s cool to see him expanding his intellectual properties outside of the Marvel/DC fandom, but beyond the premise there’s nothing in this episode that “feels” like anything Stan the Man’s done in the past.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 4, 2010 11:30 AM

    You know, I’d dig the first episode, had I not read the godawful manga first. Granted, I only got about half way through the manga, and it seems the anime diverges around the point I gave up on it.

    And to be fair, the anime DOES improve on it vastly. From the revelation of the future roach threat to simply being animated and therefore moving at a quicker pace than the manga.

    But I’ve been spoiled. Or ruined rather. I’ll have to wait for ep 2 in order to gain an unbiased view, but to be fair, ep 1 is very much a classic ep. I just can’t personally enjoy it because of the awful manga’s first chapter.

  2. Shay Guy permalink
    April 4, 2010 12:23 PM

    Spider-Man meets Giant Robo. That’s about it. Originality isn’t the point here. Though I think Celty’s a little more developed than her Dullahan-in-Ikebukuro premise.

    I don’t think I’ve heard of anyone “complaining about Heroman taking place in the USA and hating on it for having American stuff in it,” though. So what no-way-is-this-America elements are there other than the jerk posse?

  3. April 4, 2010 7:39 PM

    The Engrish plastered everywhere?

  4. April 6, 2010 5:26 AM

    Joey Jones is a super hero. His power is “I have a pet robot.”

    There has GOT to be a way to make his power sound cooler.

    That said however, yes, Heroman is fucking awesome.

  5. April 7, 2010 2:34 AM

    Mmm. I caught Doc Brown, but to think of the entire universe as a funhouse mirror of John Hughes… That’s actually rather spot on, looking at all of it. Sharp eyes.

    “What’s the matter, Joey? CHICKEN?”

  6. Taka permalink
    April 11, 2010 12:14 PM

    When I watched the first episode I was trying to decide if this was an otaku anime spin on american comics or an american comic spin on otaku anime.

    you’re post have convinced me that it is the former. Especially the comments about Jon Hughes films and Doc from back to the future. This is clearly America filtered as you said through 80’s movies and the Japanese writer.

    I even felt like like the font they used in their “to be continued” looked like Back to the future font. Not to mention they used English instead of the usual “tsuzuku”.


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