My Games

Monday, May 16, 2022

Fight! Iczer-1 Not-Review

I've previously discussed being a big fan of the Super Robot Wars videogames, and especially since MRD2 is partially Mecha-focused, I've been trying to expose myself to more obscure, or at least less popular in the US, Mecha anime and manga, especially those which have been featured in SRW. I saw this one among a list somewhere, and for whatever reason it called to me.

As is the case with most of the other not-reviews, I'm not giving you a plot synopsis really, just my general impressions.

Iczer-One seems like one of those anime that has been lost to time, and I do get why, but I also think it's a shame, because it's pretty cool. It's only three 30ish min episodes, or there's an OVA that's basically just the three episodes, I think maybe with some scenes rearranged. Tbh I'd recommend watching it as the OVA but I've watched both and it's good either way. The short length gives them little time to develop things and leaves you wanting more, but I think that works in its favor, and it also keeps it from being too decompressed.

I am a sucker for that late 80's-90's anime style, where it has that grainy hand-drawn look, a lot of painterly backgrounds and colors and details, a little more realistic, not so super-deformed, while still recognizably anime. This is a really gorgeous anime, has an amazing soundtrack, excellent character and creature designs, just oozes style. It's got this very of-a-moment style of citypop, cyberpunk, gonzo science fantasy. There's a creepy weird ominous vibe that permeates the whole thing.

I don't think all of these screenshots do it full justice; there was a lot of cool stuff that I'm struggling to find in screenshots.

There's lasersword fights in subspace dimensions, Mecha fights, body horror, and creepy monsters. I will say the Mecha designs are just ok and they don't get to do much, which I suspect non-trivially contributes to why it has not had much resonance over time. In general, there's just not a whole lot of "there" there, which is fine, it's only three episodes, and for someone like me, all the unknowns and open questions of what this is and what's going on actually just makes it better (as opposed to some uninteresting or trite background on this or that).

Big Gold is a creepy motherfucker, really left an impression on me. You really have to watch it to appreciate it. It makes this... groaning/whining sound. Also, what a name.

The anime was apparently based on a manga that was serialized in a hentai magazine, but I haven't been able to find many particulars on which issues, if they've been translated in English, etc. I will say that while the anime has some "ecchi" elements, like the pilots of the Mecha being shown naked inside the cockpit, but it didn't really come off to me as hentai, but maybe the manga is more graphic. Anyway, many of my favorite elements of the anime were the music, sound design, colors, and painterly backgrounds, so I would like to read the manga just to have that context, but I'm inclined to think I'd prefer the anime anyway.

Also, there were two "sequels", neither of which were great but not terrible, but I'll briefly comment on those too. There were also apparently some spinoff manga and audio dramas and stuff like that, but I'm not gonna bother with any of that.

Iczer Girl Iczelion was I think nominally connected to Iczer One, but it felt more like a spiritual sequel / retelling than an actual sequel. It takes a lot of the same core plot beats, but does it as more of like a magical girl thing, no mecha, and with a lighthearted tone compared to the weird, dark, ominous vibe of the original. It has a few clever ideas, and it's short (only two episodes) which also works in its favor, and it does have a style of its own, but I can't say it left as strong of an impression. Both in animation and in art design it feels much more 90's to me, with sort of a gothic science fantasy vibe that I do appreciate in itself but not as much as Iczer One's. I dunno, if you like Iczer One it's still worth checking out I guess.

Iczer Reborn / Adventure! Iczer-3 was easily my least favorite of the three. It's six episodes, which still isn't long, but even under that strain I think it struggles compared to the three and two episode runs of the preceding shows. It has an animation style closer to Iczelion, while merging the two art directions in a way that feels like neither more nor less than the sum of its parts. It's more so a sequel to the original, while also feeling weirdly like a retelling. It just... doesn't add anything. Most of the plot beats and even designs are taken almost directly from the original, but Neos Gold is a poor-man's substitute for Big Gold, and Iczer Three herself I found kind of annoying. It also has more of that goofy / lighthearted tone of Iczelion which to me clashes with the stylings of Iczer One. I didn't hate it, and it's only six episodes, so if you enjoyed Iczer One and Iczelion well enough, then go ahead and watch it, but don't expect anything more than more of the same. I dunno, thinking back on it, I could imagine a version of this that's more like Vampire Hunter D, if it brought more new ideas rather than feeling like a retread, but as-is there's no "there" there.

So ya, that's the Iczer series. It's a shame that there isn't more of it, particularly in the style of the original. I'm glad for the original as it is, bad or mediocre sequels don't take away from that, but it would be cool to see someone with a vision for the franchise revisit this.


  1. Didn't think I would be reading a review for a hentai today but here we are

    1. Lol no! The manga apparently was, but the anime really wasn't. Like, it had some nudity, but hardly more so than many other regular anime. Less than ninja scroll by a long shot.