The aptly named main male protagonist, and also the best character of this anime.
Today’s post is for a mecha anime I have never heard before watching its first episode, titled Kurogane no Linebarrels. Considering that I have a thing for mecha anime titles (although will not necessarily rate them highly), me not knowing about this particular anime with plenty of mechas in it is borderline blasphemous. Then I watched all 24 episodes of it and realized why this anime, with Gundam Seed-like character designs, wasn’t really well-known. This anime is a 2008 anime, but it has no chance at all to dethrone the current holder of the ‘Anime of the Year 2008’ title, One Outs – Nobody Wins, but I. And IMO that anime will hold the said title for a long time to come.
And he is truly proud of his given name.
The biggest loser at a local Japan’s middle school was forced by the school bullies to go buy some junk foods from outside the school. With the time limit of 10 minutes, he tried to save time and take a shortcut through a forested spot in the middle of the city. Suddenly a stray mecha appears out from nowhere and fall onto him. As we all know, mechas are usually big, hard and heavy, therefore the falling mecha kills our main male protagonist instantly. THE END!
No wonder why this anime was unknown to me before I started watching it; the storyline is overwhelmingly ordinary. There are no angsty emo main character that you can make fun of; just your bog-standard shounen main protagonist like the one you can see in Märchen Awakens Romance, amongst others. While the save-the-world-from-evil plot cannot be hailed for its originality, at least it still make this anime pretty much watchable even if other factors tried to drag it down.
This anime starts well, with decent pacing and storyline progression, for at least in the first half of this 24-episode series. As this anime enters the second half, fluffy events (that welcoming party, Christmas events etc.) and the lame-ass romance subplot (someone should watch the first Macross and make it a definitive guide on how to wrote a romance subplot for any future mecha anime titles) started to make their appearance, making the central portion of this anime less palatable. The flow of the storyline, which is smooth at that point, was also interrupted by scene transition problems that you can see between episode 15 and 16, between episode 16 and 17, and the most glaring of them all, in the middle of episode 23. The latter in particular is pretty much retarded, and will be explained later.
The ending suffers from bad presentation, which is a pity because despite being cliché-laden and predictable, the plot of the ending is actually decent. Being crammed into 2 episodes (or is it 3?) caused the pacing to be notably faster than what you can see in the preceding episodes, but the aforementioned scene transition problem in the middle of the penultimate episode is just as bad as the same scene transition problem documented extensively in my Asura Cryin’ review. Doing an important story progression off-screen will always be bad for storytelling, and this anime is not exempted from this rule. I personally doesn’t see a new season, but then again there are some unanswered questions and few unpursued potential story arcs left hanging when the final credits stopped rolling. The ending would have done well with a couple of extra episodes, that’s for sure.
Character developments is uneven overall, with the badly-timed usage of ‘false antagonist’ plot device really not helping this anime in this aspect. By using that plot device too close to the ending arc, the main male protagonist (the best character in this anime even if his character development is pretty much by the book) would then have to focus upon a new antagonist which character is not clearly defined and has low airtime at that point. The same plot device also caused the character development of the original antagonist to be wasted, and exposed the severe lack of character developments for other characters such as the main female protagonist a.k.a. the antagonist younger sister (their relationship is almost worthless in the context of the storyline – not explored at all) and also for the JUDA’s president (his relationship with the main antagonist seems to be deep, but never explained – the grave at that island with giant squid is proof of that).
Unfortunately, the writers of this anime used this plot device once too many times.
Character designs in this anime is very good, no complaints about this one. There are some black hair owners in this anime too, which is a very good thing. Mecha designs is just average though. Still definitely a positive aspect for this anime.
In general, voice acting in this anime is decent, but there are no outstanding performer(s) that I can spot (or hear).
The OST is good, but not so for any of the OP and ED themes.
The animation quality in this anime is great, even in fast-paced scenes. But choreography in action scenes is just average, and you will not see any good battles or fights in here. The director who has screwed up the presentation of the ending arc, has done a neat job in other earlier parts of the anime.
6 out of 10. One Outs will still keep its title for the time being, and highly likely, for a very long time too.
This picture pretty much sums up this anime's main storyline.