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Zeoraima: Project Hades
voice cast: Paul Juhn, Veronica Taylor, and Alissa Gordon

director: Toshihiro Hirano

120 minutes (15) 1988
Manga DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 2/10
reviewed by Michael Bunning
The Steel Dragons are a secret criminal society whose aim is to take over the world using the Hakkeshu: huge, super-powerful mecha robots that they pilot. It's been a l ong slog for the Dragons - 15 years ago, the scientist who created the Hakkeshu, Masaki Kihara, destroyed all but one of them and hid the eighth (Zeoraima of The Heavens), which only he could pilot. The Dragons have just about finished rebuilding the seven Hakkeshu that Kihara destroyed, and surely the time is right for their world conquest?

Well, not quite, because there's still the matter of the missing Zeoraima that they have to deal with first. The government have it, and they kidnap a 15-year-old boy, Masato, who they think can pilot the mecha. It turns out that he can, because he's a clone of Kihara. Yay! Only, he's emotionally scarred because the government are being singularly nasty to him - the people he thought were his parents are government agents and don't care about him, he's kept in solitary confinement and fed gruel and so on. Boo!

To cut a (overly) long story short, the Dragons send the Hakkeshu to destroy Zeoraima one at a time. Kihara pilots it and defeats them. Repeat seven times, and you've got this series. There are some attempts to introduce drama into the series by eschewing the traditional invading aliens scenario and making the enemies human beings, but the baddies are so insanely bent on world domination that they're caricatured and one-dimensional, and you don't care about them at all. For that matter, you don't care about the 'hero': poor abused Misato. Because the story is so bland and repetitive, no amount of melodramatic soul-searching and 'who am I?' monologues can make up for it.

The subtitles are fine (and let's all repeat the anime mantra here: 'always watch it subbed. The dubs are dreadful') but the script is poor at best. Add to this the fact that the dubbing for this title is among the worst I've ever heard, and that the animation is not of the highest quality (though it's not bad for a 1988 release), and it's tough to finish watching a single episode, let alone all four. I'm sure it will have its supporters, though. Fist Of The North Star and Guyver are both very popular, despite being as atrocious as Zeoraima; but if you want to watch a decent mecha anime, the original Gundam movies are being re-released soon, and you'd be far, far, far better off waiting for them to appear than wasting your money on this disaster.

Special features are thin on the ground, too: previews for other Manga releases, and that's all. Dolby digital 5.1 and DTS audio on both English and Japanese soundtracks is nice, but the anime just doesn't deserve it.

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