Is there a cyborg with the power to keep my attention?
Cyborg 009 has been a long-time classic anime, first debuting in 1968. Numerous continuations and reboots of the series have been done since each more gritty and realistic than the last. My best memory of the franchise was the 2001 Cyborg 009: The Cyborg Soldier. It was the standard for many anime tropes, and had good enough art and animation to make it really enjoyable to watch its updated story.
For those new to the anime otaku bandwagon (Welcome, what took you so long?), Cyborg 009 is the story of nine people who were kidnapped by a mysterious organization called Black Ghost. Terrible experiments were done upon them, and they were transformed into cyborgs, each with special powers unique to them. They escaped, and brought down Black Ghost in an attempt to return to peaceful living. The main character is the ninth Cyborg, Joe Shimamura, who was gifted superspeed.
Call of Justice is a modern continuation of the story, following directly after 009 RE: Cyborg, which continued the original manga. As a note, it is not dubbed, but does have English subtitles. The Cyborgs are called to action against a group called The Blessed, a gang of immortals with superpowers who want to force the evolution of everyone on the planet. Problem is, only 5% of the population would survive the process. That’s not kind. The Cyborgs are pulled into the battle, and go after The Blessed. Bad guys with immortality, however, have a habit of getting a foothold in key government positions, and they send a counter-terrorist mechanized infantry after our heroes. Battle, Battle, Battle, Conversation about the importance of the human heart, Battle, we’re done.
This was originally created as a series of three movies in Japan, but was broken up into twelve episodes when Netflix released it on February 10th. It was made by Signal M.D., a subsidiary of IG Port studio, and it shows. The character designs are heavily influenced by IG’s last movie of the franchise, 009 RE: Cyborg. The Cyborgs now feature newer, more armor-like suits that have strange gold doodads on them instead of the classic buttons. I don’t mind this alteration, as it actually makes them look like they are out for a fight, and not headed to a dinner party with the military brass.
Visually, this series would be really amazing… if it was a video game on my 3DS. The entire thing was made using CGI and 3d models. This normally wouldn’t bug me, but this show made it obvious. Each character was animated so stiffly, I’ve seen paper dolls with more soul. The special effects and environments were bland and little to no effort was put into them. The mouth movements didn’t even seem to sync to the voice acting, even in the original Japanese! Strangely, the English dub was closer to the mouth movement than the Japanese, and even then, it was off more often than not. I’m asking Signal M.D.: Did anyone tell you that this was supposed to be a movie? Other studios make animated shorts with more visual appeal than this had to it.
So, let’s talk about the sound. Volume control, good. I never had to strain to hear them talk. The Japanese voice acting was fine, but the English dub was not acted so well. Each character’s accent was more fake than a politician’s promises, and I didn’t believe in any emotion portrayed by them. Except for 001, and he’s a baby. Sound effects, on the other hand, got a little annoying. The final episode had Joe bursting into his Accelerator superspeed repeatedly to fight the Big Bad Evil Guy. Each time he did, it gave off a buzz that made me think my phone’s vibrate was going off. Over and over and over again. The heroes each use the same laser gun, and do so a whole lot, with the same feeble “pew” sound effect each time. It starts to grate.
Okay, visuals had issues, and sound was annoying, but the story was great, right? Nope. To be honest, I can’t remember the plot for half of the series. I started watching the night before I write this. I think I actually might have fallen asleep around episode 7 or 8. I remember one or two of the battles at the beginning, then a blur, then a fight against the Emperor at the end. I couldn’t tell you why that gal in the skin tight outfit was suddenly working for the Cyborgs. I guess she was a Blessed, but I can’t remember what her power was. Serious, this anime put me to sleep. I give it three Cyborgs out of ten, even though there’s only nine.